U.S. Cellular Field
Major League Baseball Park #10 out of 39
Monday, July 4, 1994
Chicago 3, Milwaukee Brewers 2
W– Roberto Hernandez
L – Ricky Bones
Attendance – 32,808
Thursday, August 2, 2001
Kansas City Royals 6, Chicago 3
W– Jeff Suppan
L – Kip Wells
Attendance – 16,021
Old Comiskey Park opened the first day of July in 1910 and closed after a game
against the Mariners on the last day of September in 1990.
New Comiskey Park opened the following April and, in my opinion, all it's been good for is making me wish I'd managed to see a game in Old Comiskey.
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf was one of several baseball owners who used Tampa-St. Petersburg -- and its empty ballpark -- to hold their home city and their baseball fans hostage in order to get a new baseball stadium. Now I've heard stories about the condition of Old Comiskey and certainly the team's current residence is in much better shape, but the old place had to have more character because the park now known as U.S. Cellular Field has none whatsoever. Brown on the outside. Blue and concrete-gray on the inside. At least the designers knew enough to re-create the old "exploding" scoreboard from the old place.
The White Sox, however, have yet to explode in their current digs. They drew their highest number of people during the park's first season. They won the AL West in 1993 (lost to the World Champion Blue Jays in the Championship Series) and the AL Central in 2000 (lost to the Mariners in the Division Series), but other than that, October's been a wide-open month on Comiskey's schedule.
The concourse ceilings are low enough to induce claustrophobia. The suites look like add-ons after the fact. The exterior ramps remind me of the hikes to the upper deck of the Kingdome. They did spruce up the place a little between my two visits, but it's still not enough to make the park interesting.
On my first trip, Tim and I hopped off the Red Line outside Comiskey and discovered that we had passed underneath a north-moving thunderstorm while the train was traveling underground. The rain had stopped, but batting practice -- the only reason we left the nightcap of the Cubs' doubleheader earlier -- was cancelled, so we wandered around the park for a while.
The Interactive Network was there, as well (just like Candlestick Park the year before) so we reserved a couple of machines and carried them back to our seats. As I mentioned before, the long, winding trek skyward toward our upper-deck seats made us wish we'd paid for a Sherpa. The game itself wasn't very exciting. Rookie Norberto Martin won the game with a ninth-inning single. The best part was the postgame Fourth-of-July fireworks display.
Back in Seattle, fireworks were used in the Kingdome after every national anthem, Mariner homer, and Mariner victory. There's something about an indoor fireworks display that doesn't quite work, though.
The weather in Chicago that night was in the low-80s and very humid. The crowd was still buzzing about the end of the game so they were ready for the patriotic display. What they weren't ready for, though, was the blue-white lightning that streaked across the sky in between bright bursts of red and green. It was almost as if Mother Nature said, "Excuse me while I whip this out." It was great. Oooohs. Aaaahs. Screams of terror. Every July 4th should be spent this way.
We were temporarily lost trying to find the car after the trip back north on the train, but we had more thunderstorms to keep us company for the rest of the evening. Tim and I spent three more days in Chicago before heading up to Milwaukee for the next stop on the 1994 trip.
In 2001, my wife and I ended our trip at Comiskey. The pictures below are from that trip. The first shot was taken from our seats. A little different vantage point than the first time. The second picture is the scoreboard after a Chicago homer. The third one is me standing behind a wooden photo-op cutout. The guy I'm about to tag out is ex-Tiger Brian Hunter. A woman nearby laughed when she saw the way I turned my head to make the scene work. A lot of people just stood behind the cutout and looked straight ahead. Doesn't work, though, and I take my fake baseball scenes seriously.
Just like my first visit, the White Sox were trying to repeat the success of the previous season. I guess the Royals don't draw well on the road.
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