Cubs vs. White Sox, City Championship series, Chicago, Oct. 9, 1909, South Side Park
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
South Side Park I (1884)
The first South Side Park was somewhere in the neighborhood of 39th Street and South Wabash Avenue, and was the home of a short-lived entry in the Union Association of 1884.
Dimensions of South Side Park I
- Left Field – Unknown
Center Field – Unknown
Right Field – Unknown
South Side Park II (1890-1893)
The second South Side Park was at 35th Street and South Wentworth Avenue, just east of the eventual Comiskey Park. It was first the home of the Chicago entry of the Players League of 1890 (whose roster included Charles Comiskey), and then was the home of the National League team now called the Chicago Cubs during parts of 1891–1893.
South Side Park III (1900-40)
The third South Side Park, the best known and longest lived venue by that name, was on the north side of 39th Street (now called Pershing Road) between South Wentworth Avenue and South Princeton Avenue. The 39th Street Grounds served as the playing field of the Chicago Wanderers cricket team during the 1893 World’s Fair. After Charles Comiskey built a wooden grandstand on the site in 1900, it became the home of the Chicago White Sox of the American League. It served as home to the White Sox first in 1900 as a minor league team, and then from 1901 to June 27, 1910 as a major league team.
The team abandoned the wooden ballpark, with its capacity of 15,000, in the middle of the 1910 season after their new steel-and-concrete, and much larger Comiskey Park was finished, just three blocks north of the old park (corner to corner), where they began an eighty and a half season run. Meanwhile, South Side Park became the home of the newly formed Negro League baseball team called the Chicago American Giants in 1911. It was renamed Schorling’s Park for team owner Rube Foster’s white business partner, John C. Schorling, a south side saloon keeper who leased the grounds and happened to be Comiskey’s son-in-law.
The American Giants played their games there through the 1940 season. Then on Christmas Day of 1940, Schorling’s Park was destroyed by fire. The American Giants would play their remaining 10 seasons at Comiskey Park. Today, the Chicago Housing Authority’s Wentworth Gardens housing project occupies the site.
The South Side Park/Schorling’s Park/Wentworth Gardens site is located across Pershing Road from a junkyard site which was named a Superfund site in the late 1990s.
Dimensions of South Side Park II
- Left Field – Unknown
Center Field – Unknown
Right Field – Unknown
South Side Park III
August 14, 1904
Chicago vs Boston
Chicago Examiner, September 5, 1909
Plans were given out yesterday for the new White Sox Park, which is to be one of the finest in America. President Charles A. Comiskey announced that the new grounds will be ready for the opening of the American League season next Spring, and that work already has been started. The stands, which will have a seating capacity of 32,000, will be at Thirty-fifth street and Shields avenue,the main entrances being on that corner, with other entrances on Thirty-third street and Wentworth avenue. The stands will be placed at the southwest corner of the new grounds to allow the laying off of the playing field bo that the sun will not interfere withthe fielders.
The stands willbe entirely of steel and concrete. The grand stand, seating about 12,000, will be a double-decker, with 4,200 box seats. The pavilions, also of concrete, will be covered with only one deck, while the big concrete bleachers in left and right fields will care for the remainderof the throng.
Architect (Zachary Taylor) Davis, before designing the stands, visited the new grounds at
Pittsburg, St. Louis and Philadelphia and made his plans to escape the bad features of those plants. The grand stand pillars will be so far back that they will not obstruct any vfews. The stand will be laid off after the general plan of the St. Louis American League club’s, except that the pitch of the seats will be altered so that all may see, and the stands will be much nearer the playing field than those at Pittsburg.
The plant complete will cost nearly half a million dollars. It ls contemplated also that a fine row of buildings will be erected along the “Wentworth avenue side of the grounds for business purposes, and also a great indoor rink will be erected on the unused part of the plat purchased by Comiskey, making the plant perhaps the greatest amusement enterprisein the West.
South Side Ball Park, Chicago White Sox, 1911
This magnificent grandstand is a practical and sufficient proof of Chicago’s interest and loyalty to the great national game—baseball. It is principally of cement and stone and is one of the largest and best of its kind in America.
Comiskey Park was very modern for its time. It was the third concrete-and-steel stadium in the major leagues to be built since 1909. The others were Philadelphia’s Shibe Park (1909), renamed Connie Mack in 1953 and Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field (1909-1970). As originally built, it sat almost 32,000, a record at the time. Briefly, it retained the nickname “The Baseball Palace of the World.”
The park’s design was strongly influenced by Sox pitcher Ed Walsh, and was known for its pitcher-friendly proportions (362 feet to the foul poles; 420 feet to center field). Later changes were made, but the park remained more or less favorable to defensive teams. For many years this reflected on the White Sox style of play: solid defense, and short, quick hits.
On July 1, 1910, the White Sox played their first game in the fireproof park, made entirely of steel and concrete, which seated 32,000, including 7,000 in twenty-five-cent bleachers. A trolley from downtown brought businessmen to late-afternoon games after work. Fans from nearby South Side communities attended on Sundays. Night baseball, initiated August 14, 1939, allowed working-class fans even greater access.
The last game played at Comiskey Park was on September 30, 1990 in front of 42,849 fans in an afternoon game. The White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1. Carlton Fisk looked out across the green grass and summed up the feelings of many others in the park.
I don’t know if I want to see it as it’s being torn down. I think I’d rather see it now, when it’s all up, and then not see it. That way, I’ve got it in my mind what it was and what it continues to be. I have a lot of things from this ballpark, right between my ears, and I’ll keep them right there.
Dimensions of Comiskey Park I (Last)
- Left Field – 360 ft (347 ft)
Center Field – 420 ft (409 ft)
Right Field – 363 ft (347 ft)
Guaranteed Rate Field, formerly U.S. Cellular Field
The stadium was the first new major sporting facility built in Chicago since Chicago Stadium in 1929. The White Sox have exclusive control of the park. It was also the last one built before the wave of new “retro-classic” ballparks in the 1990s and 2000s. However, a few design features from the old park were retained. Most notable is the “exploding scoreboard” which pays homage to the original installed by Bill Veeck at the old park in 1960. The original field dimensions and seating configuration were very similar to those of Royals Stadium (now Kauffman Stadium) in Kansas City–which had been the last baseball-only park built in the majors, in 1973.
As originally built, the park was criticized by many fans because of the height of the upper deck. The upper deck was set back over the lower deck, and the stands rose fairly gradually. This was done to avoid the overhang problems that had plagued many stadiums built since the 1970s. However, this created one of the highest upper decks in baseball. The first row of seats in the upper deck at the new stadium is as far from the field as the highest row of seats in the upper deck at the old stadium. The pitch and angle of the upper deck give one the feeling of vertigo. Fans sitting in this area don’t get much chance for relief, as it is one of the few parks in Major League Baseball that do not allow fans sitting in the upper deck to venture anywhere else in the park, i.e. lower deck concourse.
The stadium houses 103 luxury suites located on two levels, as well as 1,822 “club seats” on 300-level mezzanine between the lower deck and upper deck. The club seats receive in-seat wait-staff and benefit from an enclosed concourse with multiple television viewing areas and bar-style concessions. The stadium has 400 wheelchair-accessible seats, 38 public restrooms, 12 escalators and 15 elevators. The new suites were one example of why the old Comiskey Park was demolished, as suites generate more revenue.
Dimensions of Guaranteed Rate Field
- Left Field – 330 ft
Center Field – 400 ft
Right Field – 335 ft