The Life Story of Charles A. Comiskey


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About the Book

This biography of Charles “Commy” Comiskey is one of the earliest and most important—and, up to now, one of the hardest for baseball researchers to get their hands on—in the baseball canon. Comiskey spent half a century in the big leagues as a successful player-manager and owner, his clubs winning nine pennants along the way. But the dark cloud that hangs over him is the 1919 Black Sox scandal, in which he is inextricably tangled, fair or not. Comiskey’s tight-fistedness is often cited as a principal cause of the 1919 World Series scandal. Commy suspected that the fix was on after the White Sox lost the first two games, and even implored his old friend, American League president Ban Johnson, to suspend the Series, but the tide of history could not be dammed.
Historians of the game will find much valuable insight here on the rise of baseball in the Windy City, Comiskey’s playing career (as an innovative first baseman), his long stint as St. Louis Browns player-manager (which included four straight pennants from 1885 to 1888), his helping Johnson form the American League, and his keeping the White Sox a family-owned franchise for nearly 60 years.
Surprisingly, this is the only biography of Comiskey ever published. Fortunately, Axelson allows “The Old Roman” to speak for himself briefly in the last seven pages of the book. Here Comiskey comes across as humble and earnest, concluding his message with, “What I have tried to do [in baseball] has been my level best.”

About the Author(s)

Commy told his life story to Chicago sportswriter G.W. Axelson in 1918, and the Reilly & Lee Co. published the biography the next year, only months before the infamous World Series that would permanently change the way readers approached the book.

Bibliographic Details

G.W. Axelson. Series Editors Marty McGee and Gary Mitchem
Format: softcover (6 x 8)
Pages: 248
Bibliographic Info: photos, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1598-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1829-6
Imprint: McFarland
Series: The McFarland Historical Baseball Library

Table of Contents

Editors’ Note      1

I. Baseball or Bricks      3

II. The Game Becomes a Business      16

III. That Hole in the Fence      28

IV. “Der Boss President”      38

V. A $15,000 Slide      54

VI. Coming of the Supermen      65

VII. The Revolt of the Brotherhood      74

VIII. “Commy” Becomes an Owner      84

IX. White Sox and War      93

X. Players’ Bench to Swivel Chair      104

XI. The “Hitless Wonders” and Two Flags      117

XII. Two Pitch-Outs and a Mess of Bass      127

XIII. Purse Strings Are Untied      142

XIV. Dig Spikes in Five Continents      155

XV. Baseball Thrills for a King      172

XVI. Blazing New Trails      188

XVII. From “Commy’s” Friends      199

XVIII. A Pen Picture of the “Old Roman”      213

XIX. By “Commy” Himself      223

Index      229

Book Reviews & Awards

“One of the best but least-heralded developments in the recent history of baseball literature was the inauguration of the McFarland Historical Baseball Library in 2003”—I>Spitball; “invaluable McFarland Historical Baseball Library series”—Edward Achorn, The Providence Journal.