Saturday, March 09, 2019

Ballparks - 12 - Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, IL




It’s Springtime (in some places) and Spring Training is under way in the South. Time to return to my quest to build a reputable life list of Major League ballparks. Today, we have one visited 25 years ago when it was new.

The Chicago White Sox are among the American League’s eight charter franchises. They played in old Comiskey Park from 1910 to 1990 and have enjoyed a storied past. Penny-pinching owner Charlie Comiskey was such a tightwad, his players took gambler’s money to throw the 1919 World Series. It is forever known as the Black Sox Scandal. The team hosted the first All-Star game in 1933 and installed the first fireworks-exploding score board in 1960.

Late summer is a good time to visit Chicago. You still might get a scorcher of a day but you’re more likely to experience pleasant days and cool nights. Beck had work there and we went together the weekend before so we could do some Chicago things. On Sunday, we took in a day game at the Sox brand-new ballpark.

I did not bring a camera so there are no personal shots of the stadium. I wasn’t collecting ballparks at the time. I do recall NOT being impressed by the layout. A year before Camden Yards forever changed the way ballparks are designed, it appears they still were thinking symmetrical, colorless and bland. When we reviewed the Washington Nationals stadium, I referenced the Washington Post’s guide that ranked the thirty Major League parks and this one rated 29th. Only the sad Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg ranks lower. At least this field has real grass.

What I do remember about this game was Chicago living up to its ‘Windy City’ nickname. ‘The Hawk’ was flying that day. We had seats in the upper deck on the third base side. The wind was blowing so hard that infield pop-ups became outfield catches and routine outfield flies would have been home runs if the batters got hold of one.

(From Google Images)

There was a moment when someone’s big homemade sign was flying through the air…at upper deck level…like a magic carpet. I guess that’s why stadiums no longer allow signs to be brought in. They can turn into missiles. Between the wind and the hitting, it was a wild first inning, at the end of which, the Detroit Tigers were up 6-3. We left in the middle of the game so I could return to Baltimore and work the next day. Since the final score was 6-3, we didn’t miss much.

The box score can be found with the link that is the date at the beginning of this post. Fans will see Detroit’s lineup included stars like Cecil Fielder, Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson and future Hall of Famer Alan Trammel. The Sox lineup included the league MVP that year and Hall of Famer Frank Thomas and Tim Raines, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

In 2005, the ‘Pale Hose’ won their first World Series in 88 years.

The new park, called ‘Comiskey Park II,’ opened in 1991. In 2003, it jumped on the ‘naming rights’ bandwagon (U.S. Cellular Field) and again in 2016 (Guaranteed Rate Field). The added income has been put toward improvements that make it more aesthetic and fan-friendly…and still the Post thinks it’s the second-worst park in the game.

Sorry this exposure to one of the classic franchises was memorable in ways other than my photography, but it’s still another addition to the life list. Moving on.


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