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The history behind the White Sox team name

@scottmerkin
December 21, 2020

CHICAGO -- They’ve been called the ChiSox, a name objected to by some of the White Sox fan purists who don’t go for the shortcut. They also have been known as the South Siders, based on the location of Guaranteed Rate Field and the epicenter of that same ardent support

CHICAGO -- They’ve been called the ChiSox, a name objected to by some of the White Sox fan purists who don’t go for the shortcut.

They also have been known as the South Siders, based on the location of Guaranteed Rate Field and the epicenter of that same ardent support system. But the origin of the team’s name has more to do with its original owner, Charles Comiskey, than anything else.

According to the White Sox historical timeline in the team’s 2020 media guide, Comiskey purchased a team from Sioux City, Iowa, in 1893 and moved it to St. Paul, Minn., as part of the Western League. Those St. Paul Saints officially moved to Chicago and became the White Stockings as part of the newly founded American League on March 21, 1900.

That White Stockings name originally was attached to the National League franchise rival on the North Side of Chicago, presently known as the Cubs. According to Richard Lindberg, who has written four books about the White Sox and is considered the unofficial team historian, the Saints were not permitted to spell out the word Chicago on their jerseys, but no proviso was made for a nickname.

History of White Sox logos and uniforms

“Seizing the moment, Comiskey appropriated the White Stockings moniker (and) got branding recognition. It was well known to that generation of fans,” Lindberg wrote in an e-mail. “Comiskey was a showman and an opportunist and stealing the White Stocking name was an ingenious marketing ploy and the first of many upstagings of the Cubs by the Sox down through the years.”

Lindberg added that by terms of the national agreement and the consent of James Hart, president of the Chicago National League ballclub, the St. Paul Saints were permitted to move to Chicago at a meeting of the Western League owners (soon to become the American League) on Oct. 11, 1899. Hart’s condition of acceptance was that the Saints would not be permitted to play north of 35th St., in order for Hart to maintain what he considered his territorial rights.

As for the shortening of the name to White Sox, a number of older reports claim it was a function of newspaper editors making it easier to get the team’s name into headlines. They played as a Chicago team for the first time on April 2, 1900, per the White Sox media guide timeline, defeating the University of Illinois, 10-9, in Champaign, Ill.

On April 21 of that same year, they played their first game at a small wooden box at 39th and Princeton. The current ballpark is located at 35th and Shields. They won their first game on April 22, 1900, with a 5-3 victory over the Brewers, and on Oct. 14, 1906, the White Sox won the lone all-Chicago World Series with an 8-3 victory over the Cubs in Game 6.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.