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Charles Comiskey

First baseman/Manager/Owner
Born: August 15, 1859(1859-08-15)
Chicago, Illinois
Died: October 26, 1931 (aged 72)

Eagle River, Wisconsin

Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
May 2, 1882 for the St. Louis Browns
Last MLB appearance
September 12, 1894 for the Cincinnati Reds
Career statistics
Batting average     .264
Hits     1,530
Runs     994

As Player

As Manager

As Owner

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1939
Election Method     Veteran's Committee

Charles Albert "The Old Roman" Comiskey (August 15, 1859 – October 26, 1931) was a Major League Baseball player, manager and team owner. He was a key person in the formation of the American League and later owned the Chicago White Sox.[1] Comiskey Park, Chicago's storied baseball stadium, was built under his guidance and named for him.[1]

Comiskey's reputation was permanently tarnished by his team's involvement in the Black Sox Scandal, a conspiracy to "throw" the 1919 World Series. [1] Despite popular allegations that his poor treatment of White Sox players fueled the conspiracy, Comiskey was inducted as an executive into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.[1]


Early years

Charlie Comiskey was the third of the eight children born to John and Annie Comiskey. He was of Irish descent. His father, popularly known as "Honest John," was the political boss of his Chicago ward, serving as an alderman from 1859 to 1863, and again from 1867 to 1870. While his father would have liked him to become a businessman or a plumber, Comiskey preferred playing baseball. Over the objections of his father, he joined a local semi-pro team.

One story suggests that Comiskey's interest in the game was sparked by an event that occurred when he was 17 years old. According to this account, Comiskey was driving a brick wagon through Chicago when he spotted a game in progress. The pitcher was performing so poorly that Comiskey felt compelled to take his place.[2] To discourage his son's obsession, Comiskey's father eventually sent him to St. Mary's College, Kansas, where it seemed less likely he would have a chance to play baseball. Instead, he met the club- and league-organizer Ted Sullivan, who already owned a team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Comiskey played in Milwaukee and with the Dubuque Rabbits, a club that Sullivan established.[2]

Charles Comiskey 0009fu.jpg

Baseball career

Comiskey entered the American Association in 1882 as a player with the St. Louis Brown Stockings.[2] He managed the team during parts of its first seasons and took over full-time in 1885,[2] leading the Browns to four consecutive American Association championships and a close second in 1889. He also played and managed for the Chicago Pirates in the Players' League (1890), the Browns again (1891), and the Cincinnati Reds in the National League (1892-94).

Managing career

Comiskey left Cincinnati and the majors in fall 1894 to purchase the Western League club in Sioux City, Iowa and move it to Saint Paul, Minnesota.[2] He had compiled a .264 batting average with 29 home runs, 883 RBI and 419 stolen bases. As a manager, he posted an 839-542 record.

After five seasons of sharing the Twin Cities with another Western League club in Minneapolis, Comiskey and his colleagues arranged to share Chicago with the National League, whose club (the Chicago Cubs today) played on the North Side. The St. Paul Saints moved to the South Side as the White Stockings of the renamed American League for the 1900 season. The American then declared itself a major league starting in 1901.[2]

As owner of the White Sox from 1900 until his death in 1931, Comiskey oversaw building Comiskey Park in 1910 and winning five American League championships.[2] He lost popularity with his players, whose views of him became hateful, and that is seen as a factor in the Black Sox scandal, when eight players on the AL champions conspired to "throw" the 1919 World Series to the NL champion Cincinnati Reds.[2] Comiskey was notoriously stingy (his defenders called him "frugal"), even forcing his players to pay to launder their own uniforms.[2] Interestingly, it was the inevitably filthy uniforms that actually led to the team being known as the "Black Sox"; the nickname existed well before the gambling scandal. Traci Peterson notes that, in an era when professional athletes lacked free agency, the White Sox's formidable players had little choice but to accept Comiskey's substandard wages. She writes: "Charles Risberg and Claude Williams made less than $3,000 a year. Joe Jackson and George Weaver made only $6,000 a year. Eddie Cicotte had been promised a $10,000 bonus if he could win 30 games in a season. When Cicotte closed in on the 30-game goal, Comiskey had him benched to keep him from reaching the mark".[2] In one incident, he promised his players a bonus for winning the 1919 pennant - the "bonus" turned out to be a case of flat wine.

Comiskey initially defended the accused players and, in an unusual display of largesse, provided them with expensive legal representation.[2] While he ultimately supported baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis' decision to ban the implicated White Sox players from further participation in professional baseball, Comiskey must have realized that this ruling deprived his team of its top players.[2] Indeed, the White Sox promptly tumbled into seventh place and would not be a factor in a pennant race again until 1936, five years after Comiskey's death.


Comiskey is sometimes credited with the innovation of playing the first base position behind first base or inside the foul line, a practice which has since become common.[2] He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.[1]

Comiskey died in Eagle River, Wisconsin at age of 72. The White Sox would remain in his family until 1958.


See also

Further reading

External links



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