Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Comiskey, Wrigley to live on in Tribune, but will Tower last long?

It’s the quirky story of the week; the Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue that has bricks and rocks from various sites around the world is getting two new additions to its façade.

A Wrigley Field brick will soon be across the street from Wrigley Building
Specifically, bricks from Comiskey Park (torn down in 1991) and Wrigley Field (whose outfield seating was rebuilt during the winter) are going to be embedded into the building that the Chicago Tribune always viewed as the castle from which Col. McCormick and his successors ran their news empire.

BASEBALL FANS WILL have no problem viewing those structures as some sort of historic places worthy of inclusion in the tower – which also includes bricks from the dome of St. Peters Cathedral, the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall.

Then again, the Tribune Tower also includes a brick from the structure on Ontario Street where McCormick himself was born. Which I’m sure the colonel thought was the most significant of the roughly 160 bricks and rocks he managed to obtain for the collection.

Which is supposed to emphasize the idea that the gothic structure on Michigan Avenue is just as significant a structure as any of those other places.

For what it’s worth, the new bricks (new by Tribune Tower standards, old by baseball standards) will be installed come Friday. People will now be able to pass by, and there are bound to be a few baseball types who will make a point of checking out the building so they can see a piece of the old park.

Tribune now owns a piece of White Sox ...
ALTHOUGH TO BE honest, the demolition of Comiskey Park a quarter of a century ago was done in a way to maximize the amount of rubble that could be kept for souvenirs.

My point being that there are so many Comiskey Park bricks out there (distinguished from Wrigley bricks in that they’re covered with whitewash) that they’re not particularly rare.

I remember once seeing a pile of them as part of a touring exhibition of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and there are many White Sox fans who managed to snag themselves a brick that they now regard as the equivalent of a holy relic.

Every now and then, I even see a Comiskey brick up for sale!

AS FOR MY own family, there actually is a seat from the original Comiskey Park. Although throughout the years we managed to lose track of who had possession of it, and it may well have been disposed of by one of the family members who isn’t as attuned to baseball as the hard-core fans are.

... just as they once owned the Cubs
Then, there’s the Wrigley brick – which is available because when the outfield structure was reconfigured to accommodate those video boards, the outer walls needed to be rebuilt.

So there are Cubbie bricks to go along with Sox bricks. Baseball fans of all Chicago persuasions will be able to claim relics.

And now the Tribune Tower is regarding them both as a piece of Chicago history.

Will their spirits now linger on ...
ALTHOUGH A PART of me thinks that these bricks are just bricks. The lasting part of having attended ballgames in both structures is the memory of those games – even though many of the “intriguing” moments I have seen were performed by visiting team ballplayers (Reggie Jackson at Comiskey and Vladimir Guerrero at Wrigley hit two of the hardest balls I have ever seen).

Which means these two bricks are now part of the Tribune structure, which may someday soon not have the same meaning it has held for the nearly one century it has been in existence.

... at Tribune Tower as well?
Tribune is now two companies (the broadcast properties and the newspapers) and who is to say how long they will continue to be housed there? Which could make for an interesting predicament.

When the day comes that the structure at 435 N. Michigan Ave. is demolished, will there be eager scavengers picking through the rubble in hopes of finding that Berlin Wall brick? Or a piece of Comiskey?


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