As the Sox were about to lower old Comiskey Park into its final resting place, they put on one more final, “dog and pony show.” A first of its kind promotion. It was July 11th, a day after the All Star game at Wrigley field, which played into the mystique with most of the national media already in town for the midsummer classic. The idea was simple, let’s celebrate the last season the Sox franchise won the World Series, before we play “Amazing Grace,” and kiss this concrete palace goodbye.The idea was to wear the 1917 uniforms, the jersey idea was formulated by a 15 year old Ken Adams, who was the son of the vice president for publicity and community affairs, Chuck Adams.
The Sox had to receive permission from the American League to wear the uniforms, which were manufactured by Rawlings. There were some slight differences between the 1917 and the replicas: the numbers weren’t quite the right font, the team didn’t create a matching set of batting helmets, and the players wore their pants too long. A big fan of the uniforms was the always outspoken Ozzie Guillen, who said “I like these uniforms better than the uniforms we’re wearing. Did you see the All-Star Game? The White Sox uniforms were the ugliest uniforms there.”
The game didn’t stop at the uniforms, which would have been groundbreaking alone. The promotion also also altered the centerfield scoreboard, the prices, the workers, and other era adjusted treats. The “exploding scoreboard,” was turned off, in favor of a handmade constructed center field scoreboard, that was operated by hand. The rest of the lights around the stadium were also turned off. To set the early baseball atmosphere, ballpark ushers wore dated clothes and some had megaphones to announce lineups.
Ticket prices also changed for the day. General admission tickets were $.50 and all other tickets were half price. The 1917 season was selected because it was the last time (at the time of the promotion) that the White Sox won a World Series. Some concessions were also greatly discounted, popcorn for instance was a mere nickel.
Oh yeah there was a game to play too, the Brewers, wearing their modern day uniforms beat the Sox 12 – 9 in 13 innings. The game that took four hours and 44 minutes to complete, in front of a packed stadium of 40,666 fans. Dan Plesac got the win for the Brewers, in a game that saw Jack McDowell get the start for the White Sox and Sammy Sosa lead the White Sox in total bases with six, half coming on a triple. Sosa also had 3 RBI’s.
The game itself may have been a loss, since the Sox finished out of the playoffs, but this game started a trend that we are still seeing today. The Sox were the first team to wear throwback jerseys, a trend we see weekly now in all 4 major sports. Heck even the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, “got in on the action.” The Devil Rays turned back the clock to 1979 (in 2012), they were not a franchise until 1998. They had special uniforms designed and made for that game. The Mariners put their own spin on the idea in 1998, holding a turn ahead the clock game, and in 2018 Seattle held a 20th anniversary of their turn ahead the clock game.
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