My father gave me my introduction to baseball there in the late 60s. A North Side Sox fan, my friends and I took the train to the South Side to watch games in the 70s, a time when that really wasn’t done.
Then as a vendor during my college years, I logged countless miles walking up and down the stairs trying to sell my stuff.
My professional career was kicked started as the Sox beat writer for the Chicago Tribune from 1986-88. Finally, it came full circle when my father and I attended Comiskey Park’s finale in 1990.
So naturally a new book, Portraits From The Park, really hits home for me. It also will for fellow Sox fans who still have fond memories of the old place.
Published by Columbia College Press, the book features vintage photos by Thomas W. Harney. Beginning in 1973, Harney, whose family had deep roots as long-time Sox fans, began to take pictures at old Comiskey. He continued to the day it closed on Sept. 30, 1990.
However, you won’t see baseball action photos or player portraits in the book. This is about the people who gave Comiskey its soul: The fans. They rocked the place on hot summer nights. As Harry Caray would say in ’70s, “Listen to the crowd.”
The shots are phenomenal. They underscore the passion and grit that defined Sox fans compared to the wine and cheese Cubs fans. At least back then.
The photos also provide wonderful perspectives that will remind veteran Sox fans of the views from the old park: The picnic area in left field; the faraway centerfield bleachers; the old upperdeck that hung over the field; walking in from 35th and Shields. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Harney’s work is presented in black-and-white. That’s as it should be. It allows the shadows to be highlighted in a way that would be ruined by color.
The photos also show the rough edges of old Comiskey Park. Paint was peeling and the seats looked old and worn out. Alas, it wasn’t a museum piece like Wrigley Field, and it was time to say farewell in 1990.
Yet Harney’s photos will remind Sox fans of what they once were like and what they once had at old Comiskey Park. It was a special place. It was our place.