In an effort to speed up our stadium quest, in August 1997 we decided to go on an organized stadium trip for our vacation. There are several companies that run these kinds of tours – Broach Sports Tours and Sports Travel and Tours are two that come to mind.
[Unfortunately we chose one called Sport Tours – it was apparently run by someone who had split away from Sports Travel and Tours to run his own company. The webpages and brochures looked so similar, it was easy to get them mixed up. The tour itself went fine, but it seems that shortly thereafter the company went under, and some of the hotels were not paid by the tour operator, and one of them then tried to recoup the cost of the stay from the credit card I used for “incidental expenses”. I won’t go into all the gory details, but it was a total pain in the butt for us for about a year afterwards.]
The first stop on the tour itinerary was Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox. This of course was not “old” Comiskey Park, vacated after the 1990 season, but “new” Comiskey Park, which opened in 1991.
On August 20, 1997 we arrived at Comiskey Park to see the White Sox take on the Toronto Blue Jays. Robert Person (who would later become a Phillie) was on the mound for the Jays, and James Baldwin was pitching for the Sox.
I can’t say that I was impressed with this stadium. Instead of being oriented to provide a view of the downtown Chicago skyline beyond the outfield, it instead looks towards some housing projects on the South Side of Chicago:
All the white on the steel girders in the outfield contributed to an almost sterile feel to the stadium.
For a game featuring a lot of well-known names, it wasn’t particularly memorable. The Blue Jays at this time had Shannon Stewart, ex-Phillie Mariano Duncan, Joe Carter, Carlos Delgado, and Shawn Green. The Sox lineup that day included Frank Thomas, Albert Belle, Robin Ventura, Mike Cameron, and some guy named Ozzie Guillen 🙂 at shortstop.
Another ex-Phillie, and the hitter of the foul ball I got at my very first game, Benito Santiago was catching for the Blue Jays that night. Here he is singling to left:
This game was definitely not a pitchers’ duel. Delgado and Robert Perez homered for the Jays, and Belle launched one for the Sox. When one of the White Sox players hits a home run, the pinwheels atop the scoreboard light up and spin (though you obviously can’t see the spinning motion here):
The Sox had a 12-1 lead at one point in the game (actually right after Belle’s homer in the above photo), and the final score ended up 12-6, White Sox.
Since our visit, there have been many changes to this stadium. For one thing, it is now called U.S. Cellular Field. The outfield fences have been moved in, making it even more homer-happy. The batters’ eye has been redesigned with a plaza on top of it, and there are statues of famous White Sox on the outfield concourse. The blue seats have been changed to green, and the white steel supports have been painted a darker color. Pictures I have seen on other websites (check out baseballparks.com for an in-depth review) show a remarkable improvement over its appearance when I visited.
Next stop, Milwaukee County Stadium.