of fair territory: 110,000 sq. ft.
of foul territory: Average
Elevation: 595 feet
poles: 347 ft.
Alleys: 382 ft.
Who Played Here: Chicago
First Opened: July 1, 1910
First night game: August 14, 1939
Last game: September 30, 1990
Surface: Grass (1910); infield artificial (1969); infield grass
Capacity: 32,000 (1910); 52,000 (1927).
Architect: Zachary Taylor Davis;
Osborn Engineering (1910)
Construction: George W. Jackson
Owner: Chicago White Sox
Day - July 1, 1910.
Comiskey Park opened on July 1, 1910, for major league baseball.
White Sox owner Charles Comiskey wanted to build a modern stadium to
replace South Side Park, which had become obsolete ever since Shibe Park
ushered in the era of concrete-and-steel classic ballparks.
Legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Big
Ed Walsh helped with the design of the park, and helped turn it into a
pitcher's haven. The outfield
dimensions were healthy - 382 to the power alleys, 363 to the foul poles -
but not so long as allow long ground balls to roll into distant crevices
for extra base hits. This issue made parks like Old Fenway Park (the
pre-1934 version) and League Park favorable to run production, even though
they suppressed home runs. The backstop was also placed a long way
back of home plate, allowing lots of pop ups to land safely in the
catcher's mitt in foul territory. As if the dimensions weren't tough
enough on hitters, the grass was generally kept long to slow down rollers
headed for the outfield.
Ground was broken on February 10,
1910 and the White Sox played their first game there on July 1 that year -
that says more about the high quality of manual labor back in 1910 than it
does about the quality of construction. In their first game, the
White Sox lost to the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles), 2-0.
In the winter of 1926-27, the wooden bleachers were replaced with concrete
and steel and double-decked, and the pavilions from left around home plate
to right were double-decked. The scoreboard was moved from center-field to
two locations on the left field and right field walls and uncovered
single-deck bleachers were added in center field. In 1947 the
center-field bleachers were eliminated to improve batters’ visibility
and in 1950, the bullpens were moved from foul territory down the lines to
behind the center-field fence. Bill Veeck installed the first
exploding scoreboard in the majors, high above the bleachers in center for
the 1960 season. In 1982, when the DiamondVision board replaced the
original, the pinwheels were retained. During Comiskey's eighty
years of existence, 72,801,381 fans paid to see games there. Before
old Comiskey Park was demolished in 1991, the infield dirt was moved to
new Comiskey Park.
In it's original configuration, the
park consisted of a covered double-decked grandstand that curved around
home plate and extended along the foul lines about thirty feet. Two
roofed single-decked pavilions continued down the foul lines, detached
from the grandstand. Wooden bleachers surrounded the outfield, except for
center field, where the scoreboard was.
games: The park was the scene of
many masterful groundskeeping tricks by Roger, Gene, and Emil Bossard.
For instance, in 1967, manager Eddie Stanky had the grass in front of
shortstop cut long because his shortstop had limited range; but at second
base the grass was cut short because the Sox second baseman had very good
range. Fans referred to the area in front of home plate as
"Camp Swampy" that year because it was dug up and soaked with
water when White Sox sinkerball pitchers were on the mound - guys like
Gary Peters, Joe Horlen, Hoyt Wilhelm and Tommy John. However, the
dirt was mixed with clay and gasoline and burned to provide hard soil if a
sinkerballer was pitching for the visiting team.
Opposing team bullpen mounds were
lowered or raised from the standard 10-inch height to upset visiting
pitchers’ rhythm. When the Sox had a lousy defensive outfield, the
grass was cut long to turn triples into doubles. When the Sox had
speedy line drive hitters, the outfield grass was cut short to turn
singles into doubles. When the Sox had good bunters, more paint was
added to the foul line in order to tilt the ball back fair.
The White Sox have boasted a great many pitchers who were standouts.
Hall of Famers Ted Lyons, Ed Walsh and
Red Faber pitched their whole
careers here, and Tommy John and Hoyt Wilhelm both spent significant
portions of their careers with the White Sox. Walsh (1907 and 1910),
Eddie Cicotte (1917), Lyons (1942), Faber (1921 and 1922), Thornton Lee
(1941), Billy Pierce
(1955), Frank Baumann (1960), Joe Horlen (1967) and
Gary Peters (1963 and 1966) won ERA titles while with the White Sox, and
Early Wynn and LaMarr Hoyt both won Cy Young awards as members of this
franchise. Before the 1919 scandal, the team boasted a terrific
pitching staff, including Eddie Cicotte and Red Faber And pitchers
like Monty Stratton, Juan Pizarro, Eddie Fisher, Wilbur Wood, Doc White,
and Eddie Smith have repeatedly finished among the league ERA leaders.
In great part, this culture is the result of the ballpark. Home runs didn't come easy here. The outfield posts stood an
imposing 347 feet away from home plate, the power alleys were a fairly
deep 382 feet away, and the center field wall was a goodly 409 feet
distant. To the left and right of straightaway center field, the
wall was actually even further away, by about 6-8 feet.
This dramatically changes a pitcher's strategy. First of all,
pitchers can go after hitters with confidence, firing heat through the
strike zone instead of picking away at the corners. This reduces
walks, increases strikeouts and allows a pitcher to lower his typical
pitch count in a game. Pitchers have a psychological edge because
they can get away with mistakes, and fewer base runners means pitching out
of the stretch less often. The White Sox repeatedly boasted talented
defensive players to give their pitchers an even greater edge. Over
the years, men like Luis Aparicio, Eddie Collins, Robin Ventura, Minnie
Minoso and Luke Appling graced the infield, and Jim Landis won five Gold
Gloves in the outfield.
The relative lack of White Sox sluggers over the years is also a result of
the ballpark. Carlton Fisk, Luke Appling, Eddie Collins, Fox, Minoso, Aparicio - the greatest of the White Sox
were all players in key defensive roles. No White Sox player except
for Fisk and Harold Baines managed to hit than 154 career HR while playing
in this ballpark.
Glovers in the 1950s for the Go-Go Sox:
Minoso, Jim Landis, Luis Aparicio, and Nellie Fox
Side, Chicago, Illinois: Left field (N), West 34th; third base (W),
Portland Avenue, later called South Shield’s Avenue; first base (S), 324
West 35th Street; right field (E), South Wentworth Avenue, later Dan Ryan
lines: 363 ft (1910), 362 (1911), 365 (1927), 362 (1930), 342 (1934),
353 (1935), 340 (1936), 352 (1937), 332 (April 22, 1949), 352 (May 5,
1949), 335 (1969), 352 (marked, 1971), 349 (actual, 1971), 341 (1983), 347
alleys: 382 (1910), 375 (1927), 370 (1934), 382 (1942), 362 (April 22,
1949), 375 (May 5, 1949), 382 (1954), 365 (1955), 375 (1956), 365 (1959),
375 (1968), 370 (1969), 375 (marked, 1971), 382 (actual, 1971), 374
(1983), 382 (1986)
field: 420 (1910), 450 (1926), 455 (1927), 450 (1930), 436 (1934), 422
(1936), 440 (1937), 420 (April 22, 1949), 415 (May 5, 1949), 410 (1951),
415 (1952), 400 (1969), 440 (1976), 445 (1977), 402 (marked, 1981), 409
(actual, 1981), 401 (1983), 409 (1986)
98 (1910), 71 (1933), 85 (1934), 86 (1955)
lines and power alleys: 12 ft (concrete, 1955), 9.83 ft (concrete,
1959), 5 ft (wire, 1969), 9.83 ft (concrete, 1971)
field: 15 ft (1927), 30 ft (1948), 17 ft (1976), 18 ft (1980)
to right-center inner fences: 5 (canvas, 1949), 6.5 (24-foot section
in front of bullpens, 1969), 9 (1974), 7 (canvas, 1981), 7.5 (1982), 11
(1984), 7.5 (1986).
Cubs played their 1918 World Series home games here to take advantage
of its large capacity.
foul lines were old water hoses, painted white and pressed flat.
section of the grandstand collapsed on May 17, 1913.
elevator for Lou Comiskey, in use from 1931 to 1982, had an inlaid
clock stood on tje wall in center to left of flagpole.
areas, including bullring in left and bullpens in right and
and Mexican restaurants and beer halls under the stands behind home
in the bleachers in center.
poles bend back slightly to join the top of the roof.
Nancy Faust played "Na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na, Hey-hey,
tradition of playing the Star-Spangled Banner at baseball games
started here in 1918. League officials had considered cancelling the
World Series due to World War I, until they learned that American
soldiers in France were looking forward to knowing the results of the
Series. During the seventh-inning stretch of the first game, the band
suddenly started playing the song as a patriotic gesture. Players and
spectators stood, took off their hats, and sang.