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COMISKEY, Charles Albert

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COMISKEY, Charles Albert. (Chicago, IL, Aug. 15, 1859-Eagle River, WI, Nov. 26, 1931). "Old Roman." Comiskey was the only BASEBALL player ever to become the sole owner of a major league baseball team. (1) Comiskey began his illustrious baseball career in 1879 when he joined the Dubuque Rabbits for fifty dollars a month during the summer. (2) Nineteen years old and an employee of the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD that ran between Dubuque and Chicago, Comiskey practiced and played baseball in the sandlots around the Central depot during layovers.

It was during his career with the Dubuque club that Comiskey revolutionized the play at first base. He developed a system for leaving the base to cover part of the field between first and second bases. Prior to this, first basemen never left the bag. Comiskey positioned himself deep behind first and slightly to the right of the base. While many criticized the idea, Comiskey proved capable of covering many short hits that had previously allowed runners to successfully reach first. (3)

The team which also boasted Charles Gardner RADBOURNE won the pennant and claimed the World Championshi when Dubuque defeated Providence and the Chicago Cubs, the two top teams in the National League. (4)

In 1882 Comiskey made his professional debut with the St. Louis Brown Stockings of the American Association. Comiskey played eight seasons with St. Louis, mostly at first base. By 1887, he had racked up 139 runs and 117 stolen bases, the third most steals in a season before the modern era (before 1900). From 1883 to 1889 he served as St. Louis’ player-manager, leading his team to the American Association pennant four consecutive seasons from 1885 to 1888. In 1890, he left St. Louis for the Chicago franchise of the short-lived Players League. (5)

Comiskey's years as a player included him playing first base, second base, outfield and pitcher in four games. His lifetime batting average was .264 and his record as a pitcher was 0-1. As a manager, he compiled a record of 824 wins and 533 losses for a .607 winning percentage from 1883 to 1893. (6)

Comiskey ended his playing and managing career with the Cincinnati Reds of the National League. While there, Comiskey convinced sportswriter Ban Johnson to form the Western League, an organization that would eventually challenge the powerful NL. (7)

When Dubuque became a member of the Three-I League in 1903, Comiskey convinced Clarence "Pants" ROWLAND to manage the club. In 1914 with Dubuque left the Three-I League and returned to the Mississippi Valley League in 1922, Comiskey again helped find a manager, Joe MCGINNITY. (8)

COMISKEY PARK in Dubuque was dedicated to this outstanding sports figure on June 20, 1929. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Old Timers Committee as Pioneer/Executive in 1939. (9)

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Source:

1. "This Day in History," "Albert Comiskey. History.com Online: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/charles-comiskey-born

2. Ibid.

3. "Charles 'The Old Roman' Comiskey," Famous American Trials-The Chicago Black Sox Trial, Online: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/blacksox/comiskeybio.html

4. O'Neill, Bill. "A Tale of Two Ball Parks," Julien's Journal, October 1990, p. 15

5. "Charles 'The Old Roman' Comiskey."

6. O'Neill, Bill

7. Charles Comiskey, National Baseball Hall of Fame. Online: http://baseballhall.org/hof/comiskey-charles

8. O'Neill, Bill

9. "Charlie Comiskey," Baseball-Reference.com. Online: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/comisch01.shtml