Goodbye, Baseball Palace of the WorldTwenty 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.