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Comiskey Park

By Patrick Mondout

One of the last of the truly historic parks (along with Tiger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field), White Sox Park opened in July of 1910. It was renamed Comiskey Park in 1912 in honor and at the request of the owner, Charles Comiskey. However, it reverted to the name "White Sox Park" from 1962-1975.

The owners installed Astroturf in 1969 (they called it "Sox Sod"), but only in the infield. It was thus the only major league field to be both natural grass and turf. That bizarre experiment came to an end when Bill Veeck (as in wreck) reacquired the team in 1976 and restored order (and the name Comiskey Park).

Disco Inferno

Veeck's antics included a "disco demolition derby" night on July 12, 1979 in which fans were encouraged to bring their disco records to be burned in centerfield between games in a doubleheader. In fact admission was only $.98 if you brought such a record and the promotion succeeded in attracting over 49,000 angry rock music fans who were still upset over the Bee Gee's Grammy for Album of the Year. They showed up with tens of thousands of disco records they had been discreetly purchasing over the years but couldn't wait to burn, baby burn!

Bored non-baseball fans spent three hours waiting for the Tigers and Sox to get of the field so the real fun could begin. For the players it must have been like being the opening act for the Sex Pistols. In the meantime those who felt threatened by the Village People had little to do but drink beer and glance at their watches.

For Those About To Riot...

The inevitable happened between games. Inebriated record holders felt liberated and were soon in control of the field, Donna Summer records were flying everywhere (and presumably the disco records of Elton John, Chicago, Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones as well) and a near-riot ensued.

The field was in such bad shape once Chicago's finest had finally cleared it of felons and 12" singles (souvenir hunters had cleared it of its bases) the head umpire declared the field unplayable and forced the White Sox to forfeit the game (that's an automatic 9-0 win for Detroit if you're keeping score at home).

"These weren't real baseball fans," said owner Bill Veeck at the time. "All I know is we won't try anything like this again. I was amazed. I wish I wasn't." Veeck, who had also owned the team between 1959 and 1961, would not own the team long enough even to attempt a "new wave demolition derby." He had to sell the team for the final time in 1981.

...We Salute You!

You could fill about 20 Comiskey Parks with all the over-35s in the Chicago area who claim to have been there that night. If you were one of them (no, really), please share your experience - providing you were sober and actually remember anything at all from that night - using our "Share Your Memories" link below.

I Will Survive

While disco made a nostalgic comeback in the late 90s, there would be no 20th anniversary "disco demolition night" for this Comiskey Park. The new owners threatened to move to a new stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida (that dreariest of stadiums which is now home to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) in the late Awesome80s if a new stadium wasn't provided by the city.

The "New Comiskey Park", which now has a corporate name, was built next to the old one and opened for business in 1991. Old Comiskey was demolished and the most of the site is now a parking lot for its replacement. The new one will have to last until the year 2071 to enjoy as long a life as its predecessor. In this age of disposable ballparks, struggling billionaire owners who need "new sources of revenue", and taxpayers who are only too happy to pay for another at ten times the cost of the previous, that seems unlikely.

 

 

Share Your Memories!

What interesting or amusing stories can you tell about Comiskey Park? What are some of the memorable events from this venue? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)


 

COMISKEY PARK

Image courtesy of the USPS

Opened: July 1, 1910

Surface: Grass

Baseball Dimensions: 349, 382, 409, 382, 349

Capacity: 37,272

Tenants: White Sox (MLB '10-'90)
Cardinals (NFL '22-25; 29-59)

Replaced by: New Comiskey Park


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