Comiskey Park with Sox Sod, ca. 1969-75
(photo via Baseball Fever)
Andrew Stout dropped me a line:
"… It was while watching a DVD of Game 3 of the ‘75 World Series this week that I learned a White Sox factoid that blew my mind. During one of Curt Gowdy’s asides, he mentioned Comiskey Park had, at that time, a grass outfield and Astroturf infield! I think Candlestick had a similar configuration for awhile, but that was always a lamented park. Comiskey, as I recall, was quite a classic.
This must have induced projectile vomiting in purists. Do you recall seeing any Comiskey games, in person or on TV, with the Astroturf infield?”
First off, if you’re not following Andrew’s excellent new baseball tumblr doughnuts, you really should.
As for the hybrid playing surface at Comiskey Park, I don’t remember seeing it in person, though I must have during my first visits to “The Baseball Palace of the World.” I was pretty young then, and my only in-person Sox exposure came during family vacations to Illinois. Living in Denver, I followed them primarily through boxscores. They weren’t very good, so they were never on national TV.
The above photo of Comiskey Park is from the era in question. Everything I know about that strange, rueful groundskeeping decision has come from reading about it. The facts:
In 1969 the infield grass was replaced by Astroturf (called “Sox Sod”), while the outfield remained pure and natural. Comiskey Park was the only baseball stadium with a combination of natural and artificial turf. Also in 1969, an inner fence was installed for a second time, reducing the distance to the foul poles by 20 feet; it was removed after the 1970 season. At some point during the 1970s or early 1980s, several extra rows of box seats were added, and new dugouts were built. The name of the stadium was officially changed to “White Sox Park” in the early 1970s, but everyone kept calling it by the old name. After Bill Veeck reacquired the team in 1976, he put real grass back in the infield and moved the bullpens back to foul territory, raising the distance to center field to 440 feet once again. (Clem’s Baseball Blog)
Check out Clem’s timeline/infographic on “The Plague” of fake grass in Major League Baseball.
Thanks for asking.