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Veeck's Return:
South Side Hitmen

Bill Veeck saved the franchise from relocating to Seattle by buying out John Allyn in 1975.  Free agency doomed his successful return.  With only a shoestring budget, Barnum Bill resorted to "rent a player" schemes and the usual fan-friendly promotional stunts.  Though it worked great in 1977, it all came crashing down in 1979.  Veeck sold out in 1981 -- but the franchise survived.




The classic image of Bill Veeck, casually dressed and working the phone,
inside Comiskey's Bards Room.

 

Perhaps the biggest Sox Fan of them all, Mayor Richard J. Daley throws out the first pitch on opening day. 
(George Brace)

 


One of Veeck's more lasting innovations, Comiskey's centerfield
shower head.  Veeck would do nearly anything to increase gate receipts.
The list of his promotional ideas is nearly endless.  He was a hero to Sox fans
for saving the team, but he endeared himself to them with
his many fan-friendly gimmicks.


Veeck had no money to compete for talented players and resorted to quick fix trades he called
"rent a player" schemes.  In one of these trades, Veeck sent Bucky Dent to the Yankees for Oscar Gamble, two minor leaguers, and cash.  Gamble hit 31 home runs for the Sox in one magical season (1977) and then left for San Diego and the free agent riches Veeck could never afford to pay.  Fortunately, one of the minor leaguers Veeck also got for Dent turned out to be a star pitcher, future Cy Young Award winner, Lamarr Hoyt.


One of the few stars Veeck had and could afford to keep was
centerfielder, Chet Lemon.  Here he scores in a 1978 game at Comiskey.


The infamous Disco Demolition promotion of July, 1979.  The fan riot cost the Sox
a forfeit of the second game of a doubleheader -- and the little remaining credibility
Veeck had amongst the fans, the press, and his fellow owners.  You can read Sox fans'
personal accounts of Disco Demolition Night at FlyingSock.com.


Rock fans fill Comiskey's outfield for one of the Summer Jam concerts
held at Comiskey in 1978.  A similar series of rock concerts were held in 1979.
Though Disco Demolition has generally been blamed for the terrible condition of
Comiskey's playing surface, the real culprits were these numerous concerts,
several of which fell on dates when it rained.

 

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