Comiskey Park (35th Street & Shields Avenue, Chicago, Illinois) was the ballpark in which the Chicago White Sox played from 1910 to 1990. It was built by Charles Comiskey after a design by Zachary Taylor Davis, and was the site of four World Series (one of which was played by the Chicago Cubs due to lack of seating at Wrigley Field) and more than 6,000 major league games.
The successor to Comiskey Park was built across 35th Street to the south, and was also named Comiskey Park (or "New" Comiskey Park) until 2003, when it was renamed U.S. Cellular Field. The original Comiskey Park is now sometimes known as "Old Comiskey Park".
Comiskey Park was very modern for its time. It was the fourth concrete-and-steel stadium in the major leagues, and the third in the American League. As originally built, it sat almost 29,000, 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 down the middle). 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. The 1959 American League Most Valuable Player, Nellie Fox, who led the White Sox to the 1959 American League championship, was known for his frequent hit production.
The first game in Comiskey Park was a 2-0 loss to the St. Louis Browns on July 1, 1910. The last game at Comiskey was a win, 2-1, over Seattle on September 30, 1990. The White Sox won their first-ever home night game, over St. Louis on August 14, 1939, 5-2. The first no-hitter at Comiskey Park was hurled by Vern Kennedy on August 31, 1935 in a 5-0 shutout over Cleveland.
In 1918 Comiskey Park hosted the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. The Cubs borrowed Comiskey Park for the series due to its larger seating capacity. The Red Sox defeated the Cubs four games to two. Games one, two and three were played at Comiskey Park. The Red Sox won games one and three. It was the last Championship for the Red Sox for 86 years. Attendance was under capacity in that war year. The best crowd was game 3, with some 27,000 patrons.
In 1919 the White Sox lost the infamous "Black Sox" World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, five games to three in a nine-game series. Games three, four, five and eight were played at Comiskey Park. The White Sox won game three and lost games four, five and eight.
Comiskey also saw post-season action in 1983, when the White Sox lost the American League Championship Series to the Baltimore Orioles, 3 games to 1, with games 3 and 4 being in Chicago.
This coincidental connection of White Sox ballparks to significant points in All-Star history would continue at U.S. Cellular Field. Beginning with the game at the Cell in 2003, new rules awarded the winning league home field advantage in the World Series. The American League All-Stars won the 2003 All-Star Game on Chicago's South Side, and began an American winning streak that has continued through 2008.
Starting in the 1970s, Sox fans were further entertained by organist Nancy Faust who picked up on, and reinforced, the spontaneous chants of fans who were singing tunes like, "We will, we will, SOX YOU!" and the now-ubiquitous farewell to departing pitchers and ejected managers, "Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey-hey, GOOD-BYE!" Before he became an institution on the north side with the Cubs, Sox broadcaster Harry Caray was a south side icon. At some point he started "conducting" Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh-inning stretch, egged on by Veeck, who (according to Harry himself) said that the fans would sing along when they realized that none of them sang any worse than Harry did.
The largest crowd ever at Old Comiskey Park was a crowd of 55,555 (which was 11,063 over capacity) on May 20, 1973 for a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins, which also had the promotion of "Bat Day". By contrast, just over two years earlier, the smallest attendance at the park was recorded, with a puny number of 511 souls showing up for a game on May 6, 1971 against the Boston Red Sox.
Comiskey Park was the most frequent home to the Negro League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the East-West Classic, from 1933 to 1960. The Negro Leagues' All-Star Game achieved higher attendance in some years than its Major League Baseball counterpart, thanks in part to Comiskey's high attendance capacity.
For a number of years, off and on, the Chicago Cardinals of the NFL called Comiskey Park home when they weren't playing at Normal Park or Soldier Field. The 1947 NFL championship game was held at Comiskey. The stadium also presented boxing matches, including World Heavyweight Championship bouts featuring Joe Louis, Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. Roller Derby, professional wrestling and soccer games were also played at Comiskey Park.
During the last 8 years of its existence, Comiskey's annual attendance surpassed the 2 million mark three times, including the final season when the team contended for much of the year before losing the division title to the Oakland Athletics.
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf received more than $200 million in public financing for the new stadium after threatening to move the club to St. Petersburg, Florida. The stadium now called Tropicana Field was constructed by officials in St. Petersburg in an effort to lure a Major League Baseball club to Florida. The deal was sealed in a last-minute legislative maneuver by then-governor James R. Thompson.
Comiskey Park was demolished in 1991, a process that started from behind the right field corner, and took all summer. The last portion to come down was the center field bleachers and the "exploding" scoreboard. The site of the old park was turned into a parking lot to serve those attending games at the new Comiskey Park (later renamed U.S. Cellular Field).
Bill Veeck once remarked that "There is no more beautiful sight in the world than a ballpark full of people!" On its best days, Comiskey was stuffed to the gills, with 55,000 people or more lining the aisles and even standing for nine (or eighteen) innings on the sloping ramps that criss-crossed behind the scoreboard. The nearly-fully enclosed stands had a way of capturing and reverberating the noise without any artificial enhancement. As a Chicago sportswriter once remarked, "Wrigley Field yayed and Comiskey Park roared."
'Old' Comiskey's home plate is a marble plaque on the sidewalk next to U.S. Cellular Field, and the field is a parking lot. Foul lines are painted on the lot. Also, the spectator ramp across 35th Street is designed in such a way (partly curved, partly straight but angling east-northeast) that it echoes the outline of part of the old grandstand.
When the Sox won the 2005 World Series, their victory parade began at U.S. Cellular Field, and then circled the block where old Comiskey had stood, before heading on a route through various south side neighborhoods and toward the downtown.