Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Goodbye, Baseball Palace of the World

Twenty years ago tonight, the Chicago White Sox played baseball for the final time at Comiskey Park. The ballpark that opened its doors in 1910 closed following a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on September 30, 1990. Bobby Thigpen recorded the final out of the game and picked up his 57th save of the season when Harold Reynolds, now a broadcaster for MLB Network, grounded out to second. Jack McDowell tallied the final win in the old ballpark's history. That closed out the history of what former team owner, Charles Comiskey, dubbed The Baseball Palace of the World.

Despite being a lifelong Cubs fan, I've always had a soft spot for old Comiskey Park. My team didn't play there, except during the 1918 World Series due to need for larger seating capacity, but I was always fascinated with the place. It wasn't better than Wrigley Field, it was just different. Wrigley Field was gentle and green. Comiskey Park was dark and loud. The north side park was old-fashioned and simple. The south side park was wildly electronic. The Cubs had a scoreboard with manually controlled numbers. The White Sox had a scoreboard with crazy, colorful pinwheels and fireworks. It was a completely different experience. Eventually the team added a Jumbotron screen in the scoreboard. And the Cubs lacked parking, but the White Sox had plenty.

Comiskey Park was the first baseball park to feature an upper deck. It was the home to the first All-Star Game back in 1933. The White Sox won the World Series there in 1917. Unfortunately, the 1919 team threw the series and became known as the infamous "Black Sox" and did not return to the World Series until 1959. The Go-Go Sox lost that one, too. The only grand slam hit in All-Star Game history was hit there in 1983 by Fred Lynn of the California Angels.

I never imagined that one of our local ballparks would be demolished. That was something that happened in other cities. Ebbets Field came down when the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles. The Polo Grounds were demolished when the Giants headed west and the Mets built Shea Stadium a few years later. Sure enough, during my senior year of high school, it happened. The demolition didn't take place until April of 1991.

On a personal note, I remember being at a game in the early 1980s and watched as an Elvis impersonator roamed the bleachers. I remember a game in 1985 when I sat right by the organist, Nancy Faust, and she took a few requests from my friends and me. One of my favorite moments happened there during a doubleheader in 1988 against the Boston Red Sox (read the first comment on this old blog for details). The last time I attended a game at old Comiskey Park was Opening Day 1990.

I don't have many pictures of the old ballpark, but I have a few saved here. I did find a few videos of note online.

The White Sox introduction video (the 2006 version) played before games features quite a few photos and videos of the old place.

This is a little bit longer, but a fan posted video of his final trip to Comiskey Park. The video is in three parts and was shot about two weeks before the final game. If you look, a young shortstop named Ozzie Guillen is out there wearing number 13. It's a little long, but it's worth a trip down memory lane. It's also obvious his wife or girlfriend wasn't that interested in being there.

[Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3]

After all these years, I still wonder if they could have fixed the old place up. Guess we'll never know.


11 Comments
nheinzel
Do you think this will ever happen to Wrigley Field?
!   Thursday, September 30, 2010
lgrant
It's a shame they tore down the old parks. I guess old movies are the best place to see them now. I saw the original Angels in the Outfield the other day and there were a few cameos from players like Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio and it was filmed at Forbes Field. I kept thinking about you when I watched it. I probably wouldn't have appreciated it being filmed there and the cameos as much before.
LGrant   Thursday, September 30, 2010
billpearch
I doubt the Cubs would do the same with Wrigley Field. They probably will perform a major rehab. I think they need to. I can easily see them rebuild the grandstand, but I don't have a clue as to the timeframe.
Bill Pearch   Thursday, September 30, 2010
daverock
wrigley needs to be torn down. i usually don't believe in superstitions, but what else could it be?
Dave Rock   Thursday, September 30, 2010
billpearch
Wrigley Field needs a lot of work. If for no other reason, the nets are still underneath the upper deck to catch crumblind concrete. That started happening in 2004, right? If they leave the scoreboard, bleachers (since they are recently renovated), and outfield wall, I think they could easily rebuild the main stands and actually improve them.
Bill Pearch   Thursday, September 30, 2010
Hi Bill,
I'm the guy who shot and uploaded the video you are referring to. And yes, my wife cared more about the italian beef than the game - she still could care less about baseball, even living in St Louis, like we do now.
I shot that video thinking I would have a personal keepsake of the Old Yard, and hoping that my future children would somehow appreciate the history (sadly, they are just like their Mother in that respect!). Along comes Al Gore's Internets, You Tube, etc., and I get to share it with the universe!
My only regret is not filming McCuddy's.
I enjoy your writings very much, and thank you for them
Les Neudorf aka Brokertothestars   Tuesday, October 5, 2010
billpearch
Les, Thanks for finding my blog. Your videos are fantastic. I'm glad YouTube gave you the opportunity to share them. When I searched online for videos, those were the best walkthroughs. Thanks again. Remember, baseball is always spoken here...even though I'm a Cubs fan.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Always enjoyed going to Wrigley, even as a Sox fan. Been in St Louis since '91. Have gone back up for a Cubs/Cards game, but still haven't been to a night game there.
Been to the Cell also - kind of like going to the mall instead of a going to a baseball game. I miss the political incorrectness of the old place!
Looking forward to your tweets....
Les Neudorf aka Brokertothestars   Tuesday, October 5, 2010
billpearch
Yes, Andy the Clown was certainly part of the politically incorrectness. How often do you get to games up here?
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Not nearly often enough. Last time was a couple years ago - Elvis Night at the Cell!
les Neudorf aka Brokertothestars   Friday, October 8, 2010
billpearch
The Sox have really improved the Cell over the last several years. All of the blue seats are gone. It's so much better than it used to be. You don't hear stories of fans suffering from vertigo in the upper deck anymore.
Bill Pearch   Friday, October 8, 2010
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