Why the White Sox played home games in Milwaukee in 1968
During the first NLDS game, the announcers talked about the White Sox and how they played 10 home games in Milwaukee.
This odd White Sox event came up in the conversation because of the Colorado Rockies four-city adventure that finally brought them to Milwaukee for the NLDS.
It turns out that the Rockies are not the first team to play four consecutive games in four different cities. And, the White Sox are the reason why the Rockies weren’t first.
Chris Foran with the Journal Sentinel shared this 50-year-old story that has an odd connection to the 2018 NL Wild Card winners.
In 1968, the White Sox made their “home” stadium at County Stadium in Milwaukee for a handful of games against teams in the AL.
Why the move to Milwaukee?
Interestingly, 1968 wasn’t the first time the Sox played a “home” game up north. The first time the Pale Hose played 94 miles north was because the Braves (previously of Milwaukee) were moved to Atlanta. The Brew City wanted a baseball team, so the people fighting for a team asked the Sox to play the Twins – this game took place in 1967. More than 50,000 fans showed up to watch.
In the late 60s, the Sox could not get fans to step through the gates into Comiskey – the team averaged fewer than 7000 fans at each home game. In fact, at one game on June 20 (the day of Martin Luther King, Jr’s funeral), fewer than 3200 fans attended the scheduled ballgame.
So, to spark some interest and to help Milwaukee with its drive to bring baseball back, the Sox played a series against all the AL teams at the suggestion of future MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. They also played an exhibition game against the Cubs at County Stadium. The 1968 schedule was announced in the fall of 1967. These games were exciting for fans of Milwaukee baseball as Eddie Stanky (the Sox manager) played for the Brewers in the 1940s.
How does this connect to the Rockies 2018 travel schedule?
The first regular season game the Sox played at home in Milwaukee was against the California Angels. Because of this odd home game, the Angels became the first MLB team to play four consecutive games in four different cities. The started the four-game road trip finishing up a series in Minnesota on Sunday, May 12. Then, the team traveled to Chicago and played one game at Comiskey Park on May 14. Both the Sox and the Angels headed north to Milwaukee for the May 15 game. When the two-game series was finished, the Angels headed west to play the Twins at Anaheim Stadium on May 19 for a double-header.
The Angels’ trip wasn’t much different than the trip the Rockies. Both teams had to travel to Chicago, Milwaukee, and California. The only difference is that the Rockies added a third time-zone by playing in Denver. The Angels played three games in Central Time due to the game in Minneapolis against the Twins.
Were the Sox planning to move permanently?
No. The plan wasn’t to move the Sox but to get MLB baseball back in Wisconsin. And, the Sox simply needed to do something to draw fans in a season that stunk.
The White Sox did not play in four different cities during that stretch. They played in Oakland against the A’s on May 12. Then, they returned to Comiskey for one game against the Angels before both teams headed to Milwaukee. The White Sox then returned to Comiskey to begin a series against the A’s.
According to Fangraphs, the games took place on these dates: (results are included)
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- Wednesday, May 15 Angels 4 – White Sox 2
- Tuesday, May 29 Orioles 3 – White Sox 2
- Monday, June 17 White Sox 2 – Indians 1
- Monday, June 24 Twins 1 – White Sox 0
- Thursday, July 11 Yankees 5 – White Sox 4
- Monday, July 22 Athletics 4 – White Sox 0
- Friday, Aug. 2 Senators 11 – White Sox 6
- Thursday, Aug. 8 Red Sox 1 – White Sox 0
- Monday, Aug. 21 Tigers 3 – White Sox 0
These games were exciting for Sox fans (even though the Sox lost most of them) who showed up in droves to see MLB games played in Milwaukee. According to several sources, the Sox saw over 265,000 fans in those games in Milwaukee. But, in 59 games at Comiskey, only 538,000 fans attended.