Ballpark Tour: White Sox

Opening day was supposed to be less than a week away, so it is time to wrap up our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years with the one I’ve been to the most: the homes of the Chicago White Sox.  Between the two stadiums that have been located at the corners of 35th and Shields, I’ve seen at least 542 games, all but one of which have involved the White Sox.  So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Comiskey Park and Guaranteed Rate Field.

Stadium Name: Comiskey Park

Years in Service: 1910 – 1990

Visits: 12 (that I’m aware of)

Comiskey Park, the so-called Baseball Palace of the World, was the home of the White Sox from 1910 through the 1990 season.  Built on a former city dump at the corner of 35th Street and Shields Avenue, the stadium opened on July 1, 1910, as the White Sox lost to the St. Louis Browns 2-0.  The final game for the old ballyard occurred on September 30, 1990, a 2-1 victory over the Mariners.

Comiskey Park was the host for 4 World Series, including 3 in a row from 1917-1919.  The White Sox won the World Series in 1917 against the New York Giants.  The Cubs, looking for a larger seating capacity, moved their home games in the 1918 series against the Red Sox to Comiskey Park.  The 1919 World Series, of course, was the Black Sox scandal, where the White Sox threw the series against the Reds.  The White Sox returned to the World Series 40 years later in 1959, but fell to the Dodgers.  The final post-season games to be played in Comiskey Park were games 3 and 4 of the 1983 ALCS, which the White Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles.

Comiskey Park was also the host to 3 All-Star games.  The first All-Star game, in 1933, was held in conjunction with Century of Progress Exposition being held on Chicago’s lakefront.  The event returned to Chicago’s south side in 1950 and the final All-Star game at Comiskey Park was in 1983, the 50th anniversary of the first game.  Comiskey Park was also the frequent home of the Negro League East-West All-Star Game from 1933 to 1960.

Looking back, I’ve been able to piece together evidence of 12 games that I attended at Comiskey Park, either from pictures, stadium giveaways, or specific memories.  I know there are more, but I have not been able to pinpoint exact games as of yet.  The most memorable game I can remember would be the final night game, on September 29, 1990, where, after the game, the lights were symbolically turned off for the final time.

Stadium Name: Comiskey Park II/US Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field

Years in Service: 1991 – Present

Visits: 530

On the evening of June 30, 1988, with the clock literally stopped, the Illinois legislature passed a bill that provided the financing for a new stadium for the White Sox, stopping them from moving to St. Petersburg, Florida.  2 and a half years later, on April 18, 1991, Comiskey Park II opened, the first new major facility built in Chicago since the erection of the Chicago Stadium in 1929.  Sadly, the White Sox were embarrassed by the Tigers, losing 16-0 in the opening of their new park.

Unfortunately for the White Sox, the new Comiskey Park was the last stadium to be built prior to the wave of retro ballparks that started with the opening of Camden Yards the following year.  Because of this, there have been numerous renovations to the park, starting in 2001 with the addition of nearly 2000 seats and the relocation of the bullpens.  More extensive renovations began in 2003 in preparation for that season’s All Star Game and using the money generated from selling the naming rights to US Cellular, and continued through 2007, when the replacement of the blue seats with green seats was completed.  Less extensive renovations have occurred since, replacing the different video boards and creating premium seating areas.

The post-season came to the new Comiskey Park for the first time in 1993, as the White Sox battled the Blue Jays in the ALCS.  The stadium hosted its first World Series games in 2005, the first to be played in the city of Chicago since 1959, as the White Sox went on to sweep the Houston Astros and win their first World Series since 1917.

I attended my first game at the new Comiskey Park on April 20, 1991, the second game in the stadium’s history.  Since then, I’ve been to 529 other games at the stadium, the majority coming from 2005 on, when I became a season ticket holder.  I went to both games of the 2000 ALDS, which the White Sox lost to the Mariners, both games of the 2005 ALDS, which the White Sox won against the Red Sox, both games of the 2005 ALCS, which the White Sox split against the Angels, and game 2 of the 2005 World Series.  I attended game 163 of the 2008 season to break the tie between the White Sox and the Twins. and then the two ALDS games against the Rays, the first time I saw the White Sox actually end a post-season series, either in victory or defeat.

Notable regular season games I’ve seen at what is now known as Guaranteed Rate Field include the September 18, 2001 game against the Yankees as baseball returned following the attacks of 9/11, the April 16, 2005 game where Mark Buehrle defeated the Mariners in 1 hour and 39 minutes, the April 2, 2006 season opener against the Indians when the World Series championship banner was raised, the April 4, 2006 game where the players received their World Series rings, and the September 16, 2007 game where Jim Thome hit his 500th career home run against the Angels.  Not to mention a streak of 19 consecutive home openers.

Ballpark Tour: Cubs

Well, spring training has been cancelled and nobody knows when opening day will occur, but life must go on.  So, it is time to start wrapping up our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years with the penultimate stadium: the home of the Chicago Cubs.  Over 100 years old, I’ve been able to identify 359 games that I’ve seen there.  So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Wrigley Field.

Stadium Name: Wrigley Field

Years in Service: 1914 – Present

Visits: 359 (that I’m aware of)

Weeghman Park, home of the Chicago Chifeds of the Federal League, opened on April 23, 1914.  When the Federal League folded in December of 1915, team owner Charles Weeghman was allowed to buy the rival Chicago Cubs and immediately moved them from the dilapidated West Side Park and into his stadium for the 1916 season.  The Cubs played their first game at Weeghman Park on April 20, 1916, besting the Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in eleven innings.

That year, Weeghman sold a minority interest in the Cubs to chewing gum magnate William Wrigley.  As Weeghman’s financial fortunes started to decline, Wrigley acquired an increasing number of shares in the club and took on a growing role in the team’s affairs until November 1918, when Weeghman gave up his remaining interest to Wrigley, resigned as president, and left baseball for good. Wrigley would acquire complete control of the Cubs by 1921, and, prior to the start of the 1927 season, the park was officially renamed Wrigley Field.

William’s son, Philip K. Wrigley, had intended to install lights at Wrigley Field prior to the 1942 season.  However, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and the US entered World War II, Wrigley donated the materials for the lights to the war effort.  The Cubs eventually became the only team without lights, continuing to play day games at home exclusively until 1988, when lights were finally installed.  To this day, the Cubs are still limited in the number of night games they may schedule per season, though that number has increased significantly since the late 80s.

As Wrigley Field continues in its second century, renovations to the stadium to make it economically viable for the 21st century are nearly complete.  Expanded clubhouses and new training facilities have been put in place for the players, both home and away.  New scoreboards, rebuilt bleachers, new clubs, and expanded concourses have been put in place for the fans.

I’ve managed to identify 359 games I’ve attended at Wrigley Field, most of them since 2002, when I became a season ticket holder.  After years of futility with the occasional bit of success tossed in, the Cubs have seen sustained success over the past 5 years for the first time in decades, despite their collapse down the stretch last September.

Ballpark Tour: Reds

Spring training is in full swing and opening day is coming up in a little less than 3 weeks, as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years.  My most visited city, outside of Chicago, for baseball contains the homes of the Cincinnati Reds.  Between the two stadiums that have been located on the riverfront of the Ohio River, I’ve seen 8 games.  So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Cinergy Field and Great American Ball Park.

Stadium Name: Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field

Years in Service: 1970 – 2002

Visits: 1

Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati’s version of the cookie cutter stadium that popped up in the late 60s and early 70s, opened on June 30, 1970 as the Reds hosted the Atlanta Braves.  In 1996, the stadium was renamed Cinergy Field thanks to a sponsorship deal with the local energy company.  Prior to the 2001 season, after the Bengals moved to their new home down the street, the stadium was reconfigured for baseball-only use, and portions of the outfield stands were removed to make room for the construction of the Reds’ new home, the future Great American Ball Park.  The 2002 season was the final one for the stadium, with the final game played on September 22 and the stadium was imploded on December 29.

In 2000, Ken Griffey Jr. joined the Cincinnati Reds, which put two of the most feared sluggers in the game in the NL Central.  When Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs were scheduled to make an opening week visit to Cincinnati in 2000 to face Griffey for the first time, the idea a roadtrip was hatched.  Friday, April 7, 2000 started with Krispy Kreme donuts at the house before heading towards Cincinnati.  Along the way, there was a brief stop at Purdue. because why not, and the trifecta of a KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut seemed like a good place to stop for lunch.  We arrived in Cincinnati well before the stadium opened, so some time was spent walking around the bustling metropolis that was, and continues to be, Cincinnati.

Our tickets were in the upper deck and, to be honest, I have little to no recollection of the game itself.  My one and only memory of the game is losing my balance and tumbling down 5-10 rows, landing on a group of fans below.  Certainly not my proudest moment.  I do recall some of the drive home after the game, which included listening to the White Sox/A’s game where Jose Valentin committed a number of errors for the eventual AL Central champs.

Stadium Name: Great American Ball Park

Years in Service: 2003 – Present

Visits: 7

After 32 1/2 seasons at Riverfront Stadium, the Reds moved next door to the newly built Great American Ball Park for the 2003 season, opening against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Bronze statues of former stars Joe Nuxhall, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski, and Frank Robinson are located in front of the main entrance.

Less than a month into the stadium’s existence, I made my first trip to the GABP with my friend Scott, who had moved to the Cincinnati area, to see the Reds take on the Padres.  The next season, the Cubs opened their season in Cincinnati against the Reds, so another trip was in order, where Vice President Dick Cheney threw out the first pitch..  In August of 2005, I attended the Reds game against the Diamondbacks, kicking off a string of 3 stadiums in 3 states in 9 days.  In 2006, the Cubs once again opened their season on the road against the Reds and again it constituted a road trip down to see, where this time President George W Bush threw out the first pitch.  I made a return trip that summer for interleague play to see the White Sox battle the Reds.  In 2007, when the Cubs were looking the clinch the division, I made the trip down, but missed it by one day.  The next year, I made my final, to date, trip down to Cincinnati and saw the Rockies defeat the Reds.

Of all the newer stadiums that have opened over the past 20 years, Great American Ball Park does not often illicit the praise that the others get.  However, I like it.  It’s a fine place to see a game and has plenty of the modern amenities that are required here in the 21st century.  I wouldn’t hesitate to return, despite the fact that it has been over 11 years since I’ve been there.

The Decade In Baseball – Team Records

The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade.  Today, we are starting with baseball, specifically the performance of all 30 MLB teams in games I attended between 2010 and 2019.  Locally, things were good on the north side of town, as the Cubs finished their rebuild with 3 straight NLCS appearances in the middle of the decade, including a World Series championship in 2016.  It was much bleaker on the south side, as the White Sox failed to compete after a late collapse in 2012, finishing the decade on a string of 7 consecutive losing seasons.

I managed to take in 385 games over the past 10 years at 12 different stadiums from coast (Dodger Stadium) to coast (Fenway Park).  2010 was my high water mark, with 52 games, while 2013 and 2018 tied for the lowest total of the decade with only 29 games.

Games Per Year
Year Total Games
2010 52
2011 43
2012 33
2013 29
2014 35
2015 39
2016 39
2017 49
2018 29
2019 37

Two franchises went through the decade undefeated in games I attended, while another 2 teams went winless.  Both local teams finished just a shade under .500.  The White Sox are far and away the team I saw most often, while the Diamondbacks bring up the rear with only 2 appearances over the past 10 years.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Colorado Rockies 4 0 1.000
New York Mets 3 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 9 3 0.750
New York Yankees 9 4 0.692
Washington Nationals 6 3 0.667
Houston Astros 6 3 0.667
Florida Marlins 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 9 5 0.643
Detroit Tigers 22 13 0.629
Pittsburgh Pirates 5 3 0.625
Kansas City Royals 21 17 0.553
Cleveland Indians 17 14 0.548
Toronto Blue Jays 8 7 0.533
Minnesota Twins 19 17 0.528
Oakland Athletics 7 7 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 2 2 0.500
San Diego Padres 2 2 0.500
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 159 164 0.492
Chicago Cubs 40 43 0.482
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Ballpark Tour: Pirates

With 2020 upon us and spring training about a month away, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head to the steel city of Pittsburgh for a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with PNC Park.

Stadium Name: PNC Park

Years in Service: 2001 – Present

Visits: 1

After 30 1/2 seasons at Three Rivers Stadium, the Pittsburgh Pirates moved into their new home for the 2001 season, starting with an 8-2 loss against the Reds on April 9th. Since then, the stadium has placed at or near the top of most rankings, with the only drawback being the woeful state of its main occupant.

I made my one trip to PNC Park on May 15, 2005 to see the Cubs defeat the Pirates 3-2. Southwest Airlines was introducing service from Chicago to Pittsburgh and was offering fares for $30 each way, so plans were made for a daytrip out to Pittsburgh. We arrived in town and took a bus from the airport to the stadium, where we ate a pregame meal of ribs at the in-stadium Outback Steakhouse. Yeah, you read that right. There was an Outback Steakhouse in the stadium. After the game, there was another bus trip back to the airport for the flight back to Chicago, which seemed to be made up strictly of people who were at the game, as a rousing rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame broke out mid-flight.

Ballpark Tour: Dodgers

With the offseason underway, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head to Chavez Ravine to take a look at the Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of the third oldest ballpark in the major leagues. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Dodger Stadium.

 

 

Stadium Name: Dodger Stadium

Years in Service: 1962 – Present

Visits: 1

Following the 1957 season, the Dodgers fled Brooklyn and headed west to California, landing in Los Angeles. The team played in the LA Coliseum while they built a new stadium at Chavez Ravine. In 1962, 3 years after breaking ground, Dodger Stadium opened as the Reds topped the Dodgers in the season opener.

The following year, the Dodgers won their first World Series in their new home. Between 1962 and 1965, Sandy Koufax threw three no hitters at the stadium, including a perfect game against the Cubs. Four home runs have been hit out of Dodger Stadium, two of which were hit by Pirate great Willie Stargell.

Dodger Stadium is currently the third oldest park still in use, behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. I made my first visit to the stadium to see the second home game of the 2014 slate, with the Dodgers taking on their long time rival Giants. Thanks to traffic, I didn’t get to my seat until the 4th inning, by which point the Giants had secured a substantial lead. I sprung for decent seats, which put me down on the lower level. One odd thing about those lower sections were the aisles, which are so narrow that people could only go in one direction at a time. I did also manage to score a fabled Dodger Dog, or at least the all beef version of it. I hope to make it back some day for a repeat performance.

All Time Team Records

The 2019 baseball season got underway yesterday, with the now early start brought about due to the last collective bargaining agreement.  To celebrate, it is time once again to look at the all-time team records for games that I have identified as having attended dating back to 1984. The Cubs look to avenge last year’s loss in the Wild Card and hope to make it back to the World Series, while the rebuilding White Sox hope to finally start seeing some of their young talent blossom.  The 2019 season should be an exciting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Philadelphia Phillies 10 7 0.588
New York Yankees 14 10 0.583
Boston Red Sox 17 13 0.567
Los Angeles Angels 17 13 0.567
Toronto Blue Jays 13 10 0.565
Cleveland Indians 26 23 0.531
Detroit Tigers 27 24 0.529
Chicago Cubs 213 192 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 293 271 0.520
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#3 – Paul Konerko

PaulKonerkoRedName: Paul Konerko

Rank: 3

Position: 1B

Years With White Sox: 1999-2014

After brief appearances with the Dodgers and the Reds in 1997 and 1998, Paul Konerko was traded to the White Sox on November 11, 1998 for center fielder Mike Cameron.  He started at DH on opening day in 1999, an 8-2 victory over the Mariners, going 1-4 with a home run and 2 RBI.

2000 saw Konerko get off to a quick start with an inside the park home run on April 11 against the Devil Rays, the first by a White Sox player since 1990.  In his second full season, he helped lead the surprising White Sox to their first Central Division title.  He, along with the rest of the White Sox offense, struggled during the Division Series against the Mariners, going 0-9 in the three game sweep.

After steadily improving in 2001 and 2002, Konerko ran into trouble in 2003, with his average under .200 for the first half of the season.  He found himself coming off the bench as manager Jerry Manuel seemingly lost confidence in him.  He bounced back in the second half and re-established himself as the starting first baseman.

Konerko bounced back in a big way in 2004, hitting 41 home runs and knocking in over 100 RBIs en route to the Comeback Player of the Year award.  2005 saw him put up a second consecutive 40 HR, 100 RBI season as the White Sox found themselves back in the playoffs for the second time in his career.  This time, things would go much differently for both Konerko and the White Sox.

Konerko homered twice and drove in 4 runs during the three game sweep against the Red Sox, catching the final out that sent the White Sox to the ALCS for the first time since 1993.  Konerko hit another 2 home runs and drove in 7 against the Angels during the 5 game series.  Once again, Konerko caught the final putout that sent the White Sox to their first World Series since 1959.  Following the victory in game 5, Konerko was named ALCS MVP.

Konerko cooled down during the World Series, hitting only one home run against the Astros, but what a home run it was.  With the White Sox trailing in the 7th inning, Konerko came up to face new pitcher Chad Qualls with the bases loaded.  Konerko made contact on the first pitch, sending it into the left field seats for a grand slam and the lead.  Like the previous 2 series, Konerko caught the final putout at first base in Game 4, giving the White Sox their first World Series title since 1917.

With the afterglow of winning the World Series starting to subside, Konerko became a free agent.  Despite rumors of him getting more lucrative offers from both the Dodgers and the Orioles, Konerko finally resigned with the White Sox, inking a 5-year, $60 million contract that would keep him on the south side through 2010.

Konerko battled through injuries in 2008, leading to his worst season since 2003, but he did manage to help the White Sox reach the post-season for the third time during his career.  He hit 2 solo home runs in the 4 game series against the Rays, in what would be his final playoff appearance.

Konerko had two more chances at free agency, signing a 3 year deal with the White Sox prior to 2011 and, finally, re-upping for one last season in 2014.  He finishes his career as the White Sox all time leader in total bases and second all time in home runs, RBIs, and games played.  In addition, he was a 6-time All Star and had served as team captain since 2006.  He also is the only White Sox player to appear in the post season 3 different times.

Konerko’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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All Time Team Records

The 2018 baseball season gets underway today, with an early start brought about due to the last collective bargaining agreement, which added additional off days for each team throughout the year.  To celebrate, it is time once again to look at the all-time team records for games that I have identified as having attended dating back to 1984. The Cubs look to avenge last year’s NLCS loss and make it back to the World Series, while the rebuilding White Sox hope to finally start seeing their young talent blossom.  The 2018 season should be an exciting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Philadelphia Phillies 10 6 0.625
Toronto Blue Jays 13 9 0.591
New York Yankees 14 10 0.583
Colorado Rockies 8 6 0.571
Los Angeles Angels 16 13 0.552
Boston Red Sox 16 13 0.552
Kansas City Royals 27 24 0.529
Chicago White Sox 284 256 0.526
Chicago Cubs 209 189 0.525
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It’s Been A While

Prior to last night’s game, I hadn’t seen the Rockies live since August of 2012, nearly 5 years ago.  For someone with season tickets to two teams, one in each league, that is a long drought.  This got me thinking about the other 29 teams.

You would think that I would cycle through each team every few years or so.  And, for the most part, that does seem to be the case.  I’ve already seen 12 teams in 2017, and the season is just over 2 months old.  Going back to last year, that number jumps to 22 and, going back to 2015, 25.  That’s over 83% of the league in the past 2+ seasons.

What about those remaining 5 teams?  The Astros and Diamondbacks last appeared in 2014, with the Marlins and the Nationals in the two years prior.  That leaves the Phillies, who I have somehow not managed to see in person since 2009.  I’ve seen the Florida Marlins more recently.  Anyway, here’s a look at each team and the last time I saw them play.

Team Name Date
Colorado Rockies 6/8/2017
Chicago Cubs 6/8/2017
Chicago White Sox 5/30/2017
Boston Red Sox 5/30/2017
Detroit Tigers 5/28/2017
San Diego Padres 5/13/2017
New York Yankees 5/7/2017
Kansas City Royals 4/25/2017
Cleveland Indians 4/23/2017
Pittsburgh Pirates 4/15/2017
Los Angeles Dodgers 4/12/2017
Minnesota Twins 4/9/2017
San Francisco Giants 10/8/2016
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