Perry: The White Sox ballpark that never was and could have changed history

From Dayn Perry at CBS Sports on April 10, 2018, with mention of SABR member Philip Bess:

The architect Philip Bess was born in the western suburbs of Chicago in 1952, but he moved to Southern California at the age of six. That meant he grew up a fan of the Cubs and the Dodgers, who’d moved to Los Angeles around the same time Bess did. The early love of baseball in tandem with a nascent zeal for the physical structure turned him into a ballpark enthusiast. When he found his calling later in life after earning degrees from Whittier and Harvard (attending the latter afforded him numerous trips to Fenway), he studied graduate-level architecture at the University of Virginia starting in 1978. Thus he burnished that enthusiasm with expertise. 

In Bess’ words, architecture school taught him to “see things differently,” and as such he began to divine what made Wrigley and Fenway special compared to Dodger Stadium and the later stadiums of the multipurpose era. “They were smaller and more intimate because they were built into city blocks,” Bess said of those venues from the first generation of steel-and-concrete ballparks built from 1909 through 1923, from Shibe to Yankee. “They were constrained.”

Those constraints of the urban topography would become a vital part of Bess’ ballpark ethos at around the same time that guiding principle was dying out for good and all. By the mid-1980s, Bess was back in Chicago working as an architect. Impressive credentialing mixed with relative youth inclines one toward naivete and boldness — “idealism” would be a word that captures both. So it was with some degree idealistic naivete that Bess decided he would, unsolicited, design a new ballpark for a team to be determined. 


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Originally published: April 10, 2018. Last Updated: April 10, 2018.