Comiskey Park #1,
Life Span: 1910-1990
Location: 35th and Shields St
Architect: Zachary Taylor Davis
Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1909
This view is taken from the corner of Thirty-fifth street and Shields avenue, looking northeast, where the grandstand will be located under the same plan as the present plant. To the right at Wentworth avenue is a housewrecking concern. This property is part of the tract. In the distance are Armour Institute and the new Seventh Regiment Armory.
Chicago Tribune July 19, 1909
BUILDING AT NEW SOX PARK TO BE STARTED ON AUG. 15.
Comiskey Confers with Architects and Engineers and Accepts Plans and Specifications.
After a conference yesterday with the architects and engineers who are figuring on plans for the new home of the White Sox. President Comiskey announced the work of building the new stands would begin on Aug. 15. The detailed plans and specifications for the plant have not yet been formally accepted by the master of the Sox, but the matter will be shaped up within a few days, it is expected.
The preparation of the new location has been rushed and the foundations for the grand stands could be started right away If necessary. Work on the diamond and playing field has engaged Comiskey’s attention most of the time so far, and it has progressed until things are ready for the top soil and turf to be put on the infield. This will be done as soon as possible, and the grounds will be worked on constantly until the frost sets in, so as to have them in shape in the spring. The “Old Roman” does not intend to be confronted with the proposition against which he has struggled in vain at the present location in en effort to provide a smooth outfield.
Not all the property purchased need be utilized for the ball park, according to tentative plans now in President Comiskey’s hands. Only a space 600 feet square is demanded by them. They call for a double decked grand stand of concrete and steel, fronting on Thirty-fifth street and Shields avenue, with an imposing entrance at the corner of those two thoroughfares. The pitch of the grand stand, which will extend to the ground level on the side next the playing field. will be such that there will be plenty of space for stores on the ground fronts both on the Thirty-fifth street and the Shields avenue sides. Pavilions will be extended from each
end of the grand stand to Thirty-fourth street on the west side of the field and to make a 600 foot covered stand on the south side of the grounds. Bleachers are planned for right and center fields.
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 remainder of 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 views. 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.
Chicago Examiner, July 1, 1910
35,000 Expected to See $750,000 Sox Home Opened
Five thousand soldiers, accompanied by four regimental bands, all the baseball notables in the land and Comiskey himself With his smile will be at Thirty-fifth street and Wentworth avenue to-day to open the magnificent new $750,000 home of tbe White Sox, the finest baseball yard in the world.
Best of all. Billy Sullivan, the veteran catcher aud idol of the South Side fans, will make his maiden bow of the season. Working with Sully wili be Ed Walsh, for six years the Sox’ most consistent winning pitcher. With these two famous players in the game, Manager Duffy can see nothing but victory over the St. Louis Browns to start the career of the Sox’ new home.
Seating room for 35.000 persons has been provided. It is expected that, most of the seats will be filled. Twenty-eight thousand bleacher and grandstand seats will be placed on sale at 1 o’clock to-day. and a number of box seats probably can be detained, although a great number of the 6,400 reserved seats already have been sold.
White Sox Park
Old Browns to Attend.
Baseball magnates, old ball players and noted fans from all sections of the country have been invited to attend. Vice President Sherman and Governor Deneen are expected, while members of the famous St. Louis Browns, of whicb Comiskey was a star member, will attend in a party. Perhaps they will don uniforms and practice a bit before the ceremonies start. Mayor Busse and members of the Council, including other city officials, will attend, as will visitors of the White Sox Rooters’ Association from Dubuque. St. Louis, St. Paul and
From Cincinnati Garry Herrmann will bring a party of celebrities nnd John T. Brush of the New York Giants will bring a party from tbe East. President Charles W. Murphy of the Cubs also will attend. Old-time members of the Sox, Frank Isbell and George Davis, wouldn’t miss the opening for anything. Issy. who is owner of the Wichita club, started out with Comiskey, and was a member or the first team be had on the South Side. George Davis, the veteran second baseman will come from Des Moines to attend.
Auto Parade to Precede Game.
Among the features of the spectacle will be an automobile parade that will include members of the Chicago Automobile Club, the Chicago Athletic Club, and the Chicago Motor Club. Leading the procession will be the soldiers now in camp for the Fourth of July celebration in Chicago They will march to the park aud conduct the flag raising ceremonies at the northwest corner of the arena. While the bands play national airs, thev will unfold the Stars and Stripes.
Chicago Examiner, July 2, 1910
Center Field on Fire.
Three spicy mishaps were noted during the course of tbe combat. Sully kicked up a tuft of turf aud fell sprawling chasing a foul fly in the fourth. The only damage was to the sod. A little while later the grass near the Browns’ habitat took fire. When the contents of the water bucket from the bench failed to subdue the flames a brave bug piled out of the stand and beat the fire to death with his hat.
The most serious accident was the spiking of Zeider’s throwing hand in the third. Stone slid to second on a low throw and his hoof gashed the captain’s fingers. French filled in at second while the Professor performed some first aid on the new grounds.
Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year Book for 1912
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.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
Chicago Tribune, April 8, 1990
Comiskey Park Timeline
In 1991, the White Sox will say goodbye to Comiskey Park their home for 80 years Here are some memorable dates in the history of major league baseball’s oldest stadium
Jan 19, 1909: little more than 10 years after bringing his baseball team to Chicago Charles Comiskey purchases tract of land near the corner of 35th and Shields Later that year he commissions architect Zachary Taylor Davis to design spacious ballpark for the White Sox on the site
March 17, 1910: The cornerstone of Cqmiskey Park is laid on St Patrick’s Day
July 1, 1910: Comiskey Park christened the Base Ball Palace of the World opens and crowd estimated at 30,000 watches the Sox lose to St 1 Louis 2-0.
1917: The park hosts its first World Series which the Sox win beating the New York Giants 4 games to 2.
1918: Comiskey Park hosts its second World Series as the Cubs wanting ballpark with larger seating capacity lease the park The Cubs go down in defeat to Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox
1919: The park hosts its third World Series and last until 1959), which the Sox lose—on purpose it is later discovered to the Cincinnati Reds 5 games to 3.
1927: In response to huge turnouts league-wide for the Yankees of Ruth and Lou Gehrig the park is double- decked raising the seating capacity to about 52,000.
July 6, 1933: Comiskey Park hosts the first All-Star Game in conjunction with the World’s Fair on Chicago’s lakefront The game is an instant success with crowd of 47,595 in attendance as the American League Ali- Stars beat the NL stars 4-2.
1934: The first of many changes in field dimensions is made The infield is moved back 14 feet closer to the wall
Aug 14, 1939: The first night game in Chicago is played at Comiskey Park John Rigney and the Sox beat St Louis 5-2.
1949: In 1949 and again in 1969-70, inside fences in left and right field are installed An inside fence in center field is erected in 1949, removed in 1976, and reinstalled for the 1981 season
1950: The first free-standing scoreboard is constructed in center field
July 11, 1950: The Ail-Star Game returns and the NL wins in 14 innings on Red Schoendienst’s home run
1951: new scoreboard is erected atop center-field bleachers at cost of $250,000 Also the club draws more than 1 million customers for the first time
1959: After 40-year absence the World Series returns to Comiskey Park as the Sox win their first pennant since 1919. After they win the opener 11-0, the Sox lose the Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 2.
1960: Owner Bill Veeck enlarges the center-field scoreboard and adds to salute Sox home runs flashing lights sound effects and fireworks
1969: Wire fences are installed shortening home-run distances (to 335 feet down the lines from 352 and to 400 in center from 415), and artificial turf replaces the infield grass Wire fences are removed in 1971, but the center-field distance remains 400.
1976: Veeck returns as owner and tears out the artificial turf and removes the center-field bullpen fence making distance from home plate to the center- field wall 445 feet The distance was reduced to 400 in ’81
1977: The White Sox set an attendance record as the team socks record 192 home runs and is dubbed the South Side Hitmen
1982: Diamond Vision scoreboard is installed 1983: Home plate is moved out 8 feet again changing distances to the walls—341 down the lines 374 to the power alleys and 401 to center Skybox contraction reduces seating to the present 44,432. Also the team surpasses 2 million fans establishing Chicago city attendance record
July 6, 1983: Comiskey Park is host to the 50th anniversary Ail-Star Game and the AL led by Fred Lynn’s grand slam an All-Star first snaps an 11- game losing streak by hammering the NL 13-3.
Sept 17, 1983: The Sox clinch the American League West Division title at Comiskey Park against Seattle winning the division by major-league record 20 games
Oct 1983: Postseason baseball returns to Comiskey for the first time in 24 years but the Sox lose Game 3 of the ALCS 11-1 to Baltimore and are eliminated the next day 3-0 in 10 innings
May 10, 1984: Comiskey Park is the site of the longest game in American League history After two days and 25 innings the Sox beat Milwaukee 5-4 on Harold Baines home run
July 1, 1985: The 75th anniversary Comiskey Park the nation s oldest ballpark is celebrated 1986: Home plate is moved back 8 feet and distances to the fences are remeasured and found to be 347 down the lines 382 to the power alleys and 409 to center
Dec 5, 1986: The Illinois General Assembly passes funding legislation to build new home for the White Sox across the street from Comiskey Park
May 1989: Ground is broken for the new White Sox park 1990s
April 1991: The first game is scheduled to be played in the new stadium
White Sox fans below gather in front of Comiskey Park in October 1959 hoping to buy tickets to see that clay s opening game of the World Series between the Sox and the Los Ange les Dodgers.
In 1927 the only expansion at Comiskey Park was completed. The ballpark was enclosed with double deck grandstands surrounding the playing field, except in centerfield where a single tier of stands was located, increasing the seating capacity to 52,000 The original scoreboards were located on the left and right field fences. Before the start of the 1951 the first electric scoreboard was added in centerfield in the opening between the second decks.
Chicago Tribune, April 22, 1960
Comiskey Park Scoreboard
Sox Fans to Hear Hi Fi—
on Ball Park Scoreboard
A movie he saw years ago, “The Time of Your Life,” inspired Bill Veeck, president of the White Sox, to install the “exploding” scoreboard in Comiskey park.
“This character in the film was always playing pin ball machines,” said Veeck. “Toward the finish he finally hit the jackpot and there was the racket and flashing of lights you ever heard or saw.”
A firing platform back of the scoreboard will go into action when a White Sox player hits a home run. It will be ready for the night game a week from Thursday against the Cleveland Indians.
There will be noises of varying tones and intensities. When Al Smith hits a homer, simulated hoof beats of horses will be heard. Al won a horse in Puerto Rico this spring for leading the White Sox and Phillies in homers in a three game series. Other buttons will produce varying noises, such as thunder and the collision of locomotives.
The eight small ladders atop the scoreboard will flash into electrical patterns. Strobe lights are atop the two higher ladders. Bombs and fireworks also will be exploding from the firing plat- form.
Cost of these installations, and other features, was $300,000, said Veeck. Yes—he said—there also will be the usual, or unusual, fireworks display after all night games.
Al Smith’s third inning home run.
Chicago Tribune, May 2, 1960
Cheers of 29,586 spectators still were ringing in their ears and their eyes were half-blinded by the multicolored send-off given them by the electrical monster in center field.
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