Full disclosure: I am a lifelong Cubs fan. My fellow Cub brethren cannot understand it, but I’ve always liked seeing games at the “New” Comiskey Park (aka, U.S. Cellular Field or “The Cell,” though it will only be referred to here as Comiskey as we believe its current “official” name is likely to be transient, particularly given the rate of consolidation in the telecommunication space). Anyhow… while I’m not a Sox fan, who wouldn’t get a kick out of the exploding scoreboard (devised by the same man behind Wrigley Field’s ivy, Bill Veeck), the shower in the outfield stands (the only bathing many Sox fans will see), churros vendors, a Speed Pitch (where my British friend was clocked at 34 mph, only to be outdone immediately afterwards by an eight-year-old child), and, of course, the Bullpen Sports Bar in right field. Prior to the Sox’s World Series Championship in 2005, there was plenty of room in the stadium for all 500 pre-bandwagon fans—yet inevitably there was always that one guy that sat all the way in the upper deck and didn’t move down to the vast blue sea of empty seats below him—and, before the idiots ran onto the field a few years ago, you could buy an upper deck ticket for the cheapest price in the park and move down into the front rows. Considering the state of the Sox this year, we’ll all have plenty of room to stretch out again. Whether Comiskey is packed or not, there’s always room at the Bullpen Sports Bar.
As evidence of Sox ownership having turned “sponsorship” of their park into an artform—they even start all home night games at 7:11pm, sponsored by 7-11, for the love of God—the “Miller Lite” Bullpen Sports Bar (a mouthful) can be found under the right field stands, where you’ll also find an ATM. Access can be found at Gate 2 (take the ramp at Gate 2 down from the main or upper level if you’re not sitting in the outfield). It’s a bar, so have your ID ready and don’t try to smuggle in your children. If you arrive early (read: when Comiskey opens), you can get a coveted seat at one of the blue picnic benches in the Bullpen Bar’s “beer garden” (second level, outside the bar and behind the right field fence) for an extra $15 (was $10), no matter what ticket you walked in with. If only it were that easy to get into Comiskey without the pandering homeless all the way to the CTA Red Line or the world’s largest parking lot bottleneck after the games… As an added bonus, this area receives a lot of fly balls hit during batting practice and an occasional home run during the game.
Step inside the bullpen bar and you’ll find a large space with unfinished cement floors, white-painted cinder block walls and high ceilings above exposed ductwork. A large island bar, encased in wood and elevated by a step, dominates the room. Televisions are mounted in the overhang, framed with baseballs and interspersed with track-lit photos of the glory year. If you can elbow your way past the mulleted, middle-aged set that spends the whole game on a barstool there, you’ll find a fairly pedestrian selection of beer (read: Miller products). We used to get tall boy Old Styles there (not in the legendary wax cups of Wrigley, but beggars can’t be choosers). Photos of all current Sox players hang across from the bar on the south wall. Without further ado, the main story here is that, through the floor-to-ceiling glass wall at the north end of the bar, you can actually watch the game beyond the visitors bullpen. How cool is that? Perhaps not so much when a couple of heifers get in there and start salivating over the opposing bullpen – where’s the loyalty? There’s also a big screen TV showing the Sox game within 20 feet of the actual game. If that’s not enough for you, the Bullpen Sports Bar is also part arcade with its Pop-a-Shot basketball, Turkey Shoot, Cruisin’ USA, Golden Tee, and Home Run Derby games provide the entertainment that the Sox game doesn’t. I’m not sure exactly when the Bullpen Sports Bar closes, as I’ve often been there after the 9th, so I’m guessing they keep it open for about an hour after the game. Afterwards, head over to Chicago’s oldest continuing running bars: Schaller’s Pump on Halsted in Bridgeport, which is also a good stop before the game (savvy fans get there early, park, enjoy a nice butt steak sandwich, and walk over to Comiskey).