Charles Albert Comiskey
Born: August 15, 1859 - Chicago, IL
Died: October 26, 1931 - Eagle River, WI
Career BA: .264
Managerial Record: 840–541
St. Louis Brown Stockings/Browns AA (1882; player-manager: 1883–1889, 1891)
Chicago Pirates PL (player-manager: 1890)
Cincinnati Reds NL (player-manager: 1892–1894)
Chicago White Sox AL (owner: 1895–1931)
The legend of Charlie Comiskey permeates all aspects of baseball. He played in the 1880s as a speedy number-two hitter with the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. Comiskey had an incredible 117 steals in 1887 and followed that up with season swipes of 72 and 65. Perennially among the league leaders in hits, RBI, and at-bats, he was also a solid first sacker and patient hitter whose at-bats-per-strikeout ratio was outstanding. With Comiskey as player-manager, the Browns made four trips to the postseason and won the American Association title in 1886. In 1890, he jumped to the rival Players League as a player-manager for the Chicago Pirates, but returned to St. Louis in 1891. He culminated his on-field career with the Cincinnati Reds from 1892 until 1894.
For most men, a 13-year playing and managing career would be enough, but Charlie Comiskey was not most men. In 1894, he had a concept to form a professional league of teams in the western part of the country. The Western League was created with Comiskey as the owner of the Sioux City Cornhuskers. Comiskey would move the team to St. Paul and then to Chicago as the White Sox, named after the Chicago White Stockings, the club that Comiskey beat for the title in 1886. The Western League became the American League in 1899 and Comiskey’s White Sox flourished, taking five pennants and winning the World Series in 1906 and 1917. He spent lavishly to build Comiskey Park, which opened in 1910 and was home to the Sox for 80 years.
Comiskey was the model of generosity in the Windy City, but was notoriously stingy when it came to players’ salaries. This was a key reason behind the 1919 Black Sox scandal, where eight Chicago players took money to throw the World Series. The scandal wrecked Comiskey’s team and haunted his reputation until his death in 1931. Despite this, the man they called “The Old Roman” should be remembered as a baseball emperor who helped lay the foundation for today’s thriving game. Charles Comiskey was recognized as a baseball pioneer and executive with his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1939.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html