Archive for the ‘Illinois Ballparks’ Category

A Pre-Renovation Wrigley Field Walk Around

October 4th, 2014

Knowing that the Chicago Cubs are embarking on  a $575 million renovation of historic Wrigley Field, I visited the ballpark on September 19, 2014, for a day game against the Dodgers. My purpose was to photograph and video Wrigley Field as it exists prior to its renovation.

Wrigley Field Left and Center Field September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field Left and Center Field September 19, 2014

Although perhaps not quite as drastic as the Yankees 1970s renovation of their former ballpark, the Cubs plans for Wrigley Field certainly will alter forever the appearance of the ballpark, both inside and out. In the years to come, fans very well may preface discussion about their visits to that ballpark in terms of old Wrigley and new Wrigley, just as fans used to talk about old Yankee Stadium  – pre 1970s renovation – and new Yankee Stadium – post 1970s renovation (not to be confused with the team’s new, current Yankee Stadium).

Wrigley Field  From Left Field Grandstand September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field From Left Field Grandstand September 19, 2014

Say what you will about the Cub’s decision to renovate the ballpark, at least they are keeping the ballpark where it is, with the same field and historic facade. It has been my opinion that the Yankees should have taken the same approach rather than demolish their historic ballpark and build a new one across the street.

Panoramic Photo Wrigley Field September 19, 2014

Panoramic Photo Wrigley Field September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field’s renovation will take several years, conducted mostly during the off season. Work already has begun on the bleachers to the left and right of the historic scoreboard. Those bleachers will be demolished and the seating capacity extended out over Waveland Avenue and Sheffield Avenue. Other planned renovation includes demolition and replacement of the wood roof that covers the grandstand from the left field corner around to the right field corner, demolition and replacement of the lower seating bowl, including the dugouts, demolition and expansion of the concourse behind the lower seating bowl, additional concessions for the upper deck, an upper deck patio above Seminary Avenue, and the construction of shops, a parking garage, and a hotel at Waveland Avenue, Seminary Avenue, and Clark Street.

For posterity, I have shared here six videos of how those areas looked (as well as the rest of the stadium) before the renovation.

The tour starts with a ride north on the “L” red line, stopping at Addison Street.

This next video is a walk around the outside of Wrigley Field, starting at the intersection of Addison Street and Clark Street, and continuing to Waveland Avenue, Sheffield Avenue, and back to Addison Street. The Cubs renovation plans include construction of an office building, hotel, and plaza which will straddle both sides Clark Street along the left field foul line, and expanded bleacher seating that will overhang Waveland Avenue and Sheffield Avenue. With these renovations, the cityscape  of the area surrounding Wrigley Field will be forever altered.

The next video is a walk through of the concourse area behind the lower seating bowl. The Cubs plan to bring this area into the 21st century by expanding the concourse area and revamping the concessions options and restroom areas. As it currently exists, this walk through the concourse is a charming, yet cramped experience. Most patrons who frequent the ballpark undoubtedly will appreciate the upgrades. Some will miss the charm, but few will miss the cramped quarters.

The next video is a walk around the lower seating bowl. With changes to the signage along the outfield walls, the addition of a new scoreboard, and replacement of the lower bowl seats and concrete risers, this view of Wrigley Field also will be forever altered.

The next video (which clocks in at about 20 minutes) is a walk along the ramps, walkways, and concourse areas of the upper deck, starting at the up ramp near the Waveland Avenue entrance and continuing up through the backside of the ballpark to the upper levels. How much of this view changes depends on structural work planned for replacing the wooden roof and the addition and expansion of concession areas on the upper concourse.

The final video is a view of Wrigley Field from the current roof top deck. Renovation of Wrigley Field includes an expansion of this area and the addition of other roof top concessions and eating areas.

Although with its renovation Wrigley Field is will lose some of its century-old charm, hopefully the renovation of Wrigley Field will help insure the ballpark’s existence for at least another 100 years. Fans in Boston and Chicago are fortunate that their ballparks remain a baseball destination where the game is still played. Most Yankee fans I have talked to since the demolition of their historic ballpark in 2010 wish the same could be said for Yankee Stadium. It is better that Wrigley Field be a renovated ballpark, as opposed to just another lost ballpark.

And for the record, the Dodgers defeated the Cubs 14-5, with Clayton Kershaw getting the win and the Dodgers clinching a 2014 playoff spot.

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Chicago’s South Side Park And The Neighborhood Of Lost Ballparks

March 21st, 2013

South Side Park, located at the intersection of W Pershing Road and S Princeton Street in Chicago, Illinois, was the home of the Chicago White Sox from their inception in the American League in 1901 until mid way through the 1910 season.

Cubs vs. White Sox, City Championship series, Chicago, Oct. 9, '09, South Side Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Starting in 1911, the ballpark was home to Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants. The Giants started as an independent Negro League team and later played in the Negro National League and the Negro Southern League. The ballpark was renamed Schorling’s Park after Foster’s business partner, John C. Schorling, who leased the grounds and was a son-in-law of White Sox owner Charles Comiskey.

South Side Park 1907 (Wikimedia Commons)

South Side Park was located only four blocks south of the White Sox’s current home, U.S. Cellular Field and the Former Site of old Comiskey Park. Parking Lot L, which is just southwest of U.S. Cellular Field on S Princeton Avenue is directly across the street from the former site of South Side Park. Two other ballparks in Chicago known as South Side Park were once nearby. From 1891-1893, the Chicago Cubs played at a ballpark known as South Side Park located at the southeast corner of W 35th Street and S Wentworth Avenue. That site is now consumed mostly by Interstate 94 just to the east of U.S. Cellular Field. In 1884 a Chicago franchise of the Union Association played at a ballpark known as South Side Park located five blocks to the east at the intersection of W Pershing and S Wabash Avenue. All told, there were five major league ballparks (with one still standing) within a one mile radius.

View of U.S. Cellular Field Just Four Blocks North of South Side Park's Former Site

South Side Park’s home plate was located near the northeast corner of S Princeton Avenue and W Pershing Road (formerly W 39 Street).

Former Site of South Side Park at Intersection of S Princeton and W Pershing

The third base side of South Side Park ran along S Princeton. The first base side of South Side Park ran along W Pershing.

Former Site of South Side Park's Third Base Side on the Right, With Cellular One Field's Parking Lot L on the Left.

The former site of South Side Park is now entirely consumed by Wentworth Gardens.

Entrance Off W Pershing Road to Wentworth Gardens Looking North Toward Approximate Location of South Side Park''s Home Plate

Wentworth Gardens was constructed in 1945 and originally was built to house workers during World War II. The apartments currently are owned and operated as subsidized housing by the City of Chicago.

Wentworth Gardens - Former Site of South Side Park

South Side Park’s former right field corner was located near the northwest corner of W Pershing Road and S Wentworth Avenue. Interstate 94 sits just to the east of S. Wentworth Avenue.

Express Food and Liquor Mart At Intersection of W Pershing Road and S Wentworth Across Street From South Side Park's Former Right Field Corner

In the former location of center field, just off Wentworth Avenue, is a small baseball field next to a large, brick smoke stack. Although the infield faces in the opposite direction of the way South Side Park’s infield faced, it is still possible to play baseball at South Side Park.

Entrance to Wentworth Housing Project from Wentworth Avenue with Youth Ballfield in Background

As it is with many lost ballparks, nothing of South Side Park remains on site, although baseball still can be played on a portion of the former site. No plaque commemorates ballpark, even though it is only a long fly ball from the White Sox’s current home. It seems a fair guess that the vast majority of White Sox fans who deposit their vehicles in U.S. Cellular Field’s Parking Lot L have no idea they are parked just across the street from the former site of their team’s first home ballpark, as well as the former home of the Chicago American Giants.

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Chicago’s West Side Grounds – Where The Cubs Last Won the World Series

March 20th, 2013

West Side Grounds (also called West Side Park) at the intersection of S Wolcott Avenue and W Polk Street was the home of the Chicago Cubs from 1893 until 1915. It was the second ballpark in Chicago known by that name, the first being located a mile to the northeast at the intersection of South Loomis and West Harrison Streets, which was home to the Cubs from 1885 until 1891. From  1891-1893, the Cubs played at South Side Park II, which was located at the southeast corner of W 35th Street and S Wentworth Avenue and is now consumed by Interstate 94 just to the east of Cellular One Field.

West Side Grounds Postcard (Facing Toward Polk Street and Old Cook County Hospital Behind Grandstand)

While resident at the second West Side Park, the Cubs won four National League pennants from 1906 to 1910 and two World Series championships in 1907 and 1908. The 1906 World Series, which the Cubs lost to the cross-town Chicago White Sox, was the only match up in series history between those two clubs. In the time since the Cubs abandoned West Side Grounds for the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, the team has never won a world series.

West Side Grounds (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.) Facing Toward Taylor Street

The former site of West Side Grounds is now the University of Illinois Medical Center.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Looking Toward Southeast Corner of Wolcott Avenue and Polk

The grandstand from home plate to left field ran parallel to S Polk Street, although it did not abut the road. Rather, it was set back from S Polk Street behind row houses that lined the street.

Former Site of West Side Grounds at Wolcott Avenue - Former Location of First Base Grandstand

The first base grandstand ran parallel to  W Wolcott Street. At the time of West Side Ground, Wolcott street was known as Lincoln Street. It was renamed in 1939 in honor of Dr. Alexander Wolcott, Jr., who was the first physician in Chicago.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Now Occupied By the University of Illinois Medical Center

Although nothing of West Side Grounds remains on site, much of the outfield area remains a park in the middle of the University’s medical complex.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Former Location of Center Field Looking Toward Home Plate

The park can be accessed from an entrance near the corner of W Taylor Street and S Wood Street behind the University’s Biologic Resources Laboratory.

Former Site of West Side Grounds Standing in Former Location of Left Field Looking Toward Second Base

The infield and much of the grandstand area are now consumed by the Illinois College of Medicine.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Right Field

Second base was once located in the northwest corner of the medical center park on what is now a concrete patio.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing in Approximate Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate Somewhere Through That Door

Center field was once located in the southeast corner of the medical center park. The building housing the Medical Center Administration (the old Nurses’ Home) resides in what was once deep center field.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Approximate Location of Second Base Lookiing Out Toward Center Field

The right field corner was once located behind the building at 835 South Wolcott, which houses the university health services and other departments.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing in Right/Center Field Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field Pavilion

A plaque commemorating the West End Grounds was placed in front of the  University of Illinois Chicago Neuro Psychiatric Institute at 912 S Wood St.

West Side Grounds Plaque (Illinois State Historical Society - www.historyillinois.org)

The plaque dedication in 2009 was attended by none other than Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks.

Former Site of West Side Grounds Looking South Down Wood Street Toward Location of Historical Plaque

West Side Grounds is one of the original lost ballparks, having been home to the Cubs almost 100 years ago. It’s location is less than file miles northwest of U.S. Cellular Field (old Comiskey Park), home of the Chicago White Sox and is certainly worth a visit, especially for Cubs fans wondering where it was that their team last won the World Series.

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Comiskey Park The First

June 28th, 2010

Comiskey Park, located on Chicago’s South Side, was home to the Chicago White Sox for 80 years from 1910 to 1990.

White Sox Park, Chicago, Illinois (publisher unknown)

The White Sox’s ballpark predated famed Wrigley Field (Weeghman Field) by  four years.  The Cubs did not begin play at Wrigley until 1916.

Chicago's Famed South and North Side Ballparks (Joboul Aero Distributing/Colourpicture Publishers)

The picture below shows the single-deck seating along first base.  An upper deck was added to this area in the late 1920s.

Comiskey Park Circa 1910-1925 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

South Side Park, home to the American League White Sox from 1901 until mid-season 1910, was located just four blocks south of Comiskey Field.

Cubs vs. White Sox, City Championship series, Chicago, Oct. 9, '09, South Side Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Demolition of Comiskey Park took place during the 1991 inaugural season of new Comiskey Park.  As is true with many former ballparks, the former site of old Comiskey Park serves as parking for the new ballpark.  In the photograph below, taken in 2003, the parking lot in the foreground is the former site of Comiskey Park.  The parking garage attached to the right of the stadium sits in the footprint of old Comiskey Park’s first base grandstand.

Old Comiskey Park Site Turned Parking Lot Adjacent To New Comiskey Park (circa 2000)

Another view of the former site of old Comiskey Park looking west, taken from Interstate 94 in 2001.  Notice the new stadium’s large upperdeck.  A significant portion of that upperdeck, including the upper 10 rows of seating, were removed during renovation of the ballpark in the mid-2000s.

New Comiskey Park and Old Comiskey Park Site to the Right as Seen From Interstate (circa 2003)

The front entrance of the new ballpark (for team officials and employees) sits just a short fly ball from the site of old Comiskey Park.

Entrance to Now U.S. Cellular Field (circa 2003)

The following shot of the employee entrance to the the new ballpark was taken from the roof of the parking garage that sits in the footprint of old Comiskey Park.

View of Entrance To New Ballpark Taken From Parking Garage That Sits In Footprint of Old Comiskey Park (2003)

When it opened in 1991, the new ballpark also was named Comiskey Park, honoring the memory of the old ballpark.  That changed in 2003 when the White Sox sold naming rights to the stadium to U.S. Cellular Field.

Retro Scoreboard at New Comiskey Park (circa 2000) Before Name Change

U.S. Cellular Field has undergone extensive renovation in its 20 years as a ballpark, including changes made to the stadium that sit in the footprint of old Comiskey Park.

Part of the Extensive Renovation of U.S. Cellular Field Was in the Area that Once Sat in the Footprint of Old Comiskey Park Including Addition of the Chicago Sports Pavilion

In the parking lot just north of U.S. Cellular Field is a granite marker noting the former location of Comiskey Park’s home plate.

Old Comiskey Park Home Plate Marker

The main building of the Illinois Institute of Technology, visible beyond center field (to the right of the tall building)  in the postcard below is also visible in the above picture of home plate.  The red brick building was constructed in 1891 and sits across I-90 from the old Comiskey ballpark site.

1950's Postcard of Comiskey Park (Plastichrome Postcard, published by Cameo Greeting Card Co., Chicago)

The home plate marker is located next to U.S. Cellular Field Gate 5 in Parking Lot B.

Home Plate Marker Next to Gate 5

The parking lot includes a recreated batters box and markings of the left and right field foul lines.

Third Base Foul Line of Old Comiskey Park

Straight away center field faces Toward Interstate 94.

Young Fans Block My View of Re-created Old Comiskey Batters Box

Although no part of old Comiskey Park remains on site, one curious artifact does remain in its original spot.

Chicago Sports Depot Sits Located At Former Entrance to Comiskey Park

Nailed to a tree next to the Chicago Sports Depot, near what was once the entrance to old Comiskey Park, is a sign that warns: “Resale Of Tickets At Any Price Is Prohibited.” Presumably the policy against ticket resales remains in place as well.

Ticket Resale Warning Sign From Old Comiskey Park Still On Site at U.S. Cellular Field

A tribute to Comiskey Park resides 700 miles southeast of the old Comiskey site in Greenville, South Carolina, former home of White Sox great Shoeless Joe Jackson. In the center of town is a plaza erected in tribute of Jackson, which includes a statute of the famous player.

Greenville, SC, Statute of Shoeless Joe Jackson With Bricks from old Comiskey Park

A plaque commemorating the plaza notes that the base of the statute is made from bricks taken from Comiskey Field after its demolition in 1990.

Greenville Plaque Commemorating Shoeless Joe Jackson and Comiskey Park

The White Sox’s decision to demarcate the former site of home plate allows fans of the game to visualize a small portion of the lost ballpark. Luckily for fans, the White Sox were careful to construct the lot so that parking is not allowed atop the former home plate.  The same is not true for the rest of the field and Season Ticket holders with access to Lot B, who get to the game early, can park their car on former infield, atop the pitchers mound, in the outfield, or maybe even where Shoeless Joe Jackson once roamed right field.

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