Chuck Comiskey of the Chicago White Sox is quarreling with his sister Dorothy. On the grounds that a family fight is more fun than a free-for-all, here is a rundown on the situation.
First, the cast of characters: CHARLES A. COMISKEY. Called the Old Roman for some obscure reason. Ballplayer, manager and club owner. Founder of the White Sox and amasser of a fortune. Died in 1931.
J. LOUIS COMISKEY. Son of the Old Roman. A terribly fat man plagued by heart disease. Inherited the White Sox from his father and died just eight years later, in 1939.
GRACE COMISKEY. Widow of J. Louis. Fought the trustees of her husband's estate when they proposed to sell the White Sox. Regained for herself and her family complete control of the club. Only woman ever to be president of an American League team. Bossed the White Sox from 1941 until her death in 1956.
DOROTHY COMISKEY RIGNEY. Oldest child of Grace and J. Louis. An officer of the White Sox and a member of the board of directors since the time of her mother's ascendancy. Executrix of her mother's estate. When estate is settled, will be majority stockholder in the White Sox (53%, to 47% for brother Chuck).
JOHN DUNGAN RIGNEY. Husband of Dorothy. Star White Sox pitcher just before World War II. Married Dorothy in 1941. Became farm club director in 1947, vice-president in 1955.
GRACE LOU COMISKEY. Second child of Grace and J. Louis. A semi-invalid because of weight and weak heart. Died in 1952.
CHARLES A. COMISKEY II. Youngest child and only son of Grace and J. Louis. Known as Chuck. For years popularly assumed to be sole heir to White Sox. Actually, would have eventually owned only 22.2% of stock if his mother and sister Grace had survived. Now will come into last portion of his 47% on 35th birthday, in 1960. Has been vice-president and key member of Chicago front office since 1948, except for a five-month hiatus in 1952, when he quit the club in a huff.
The first thing to understand about the Comiskeys is the fact that they are by all odds the oldest family in baseball. Old Charlie Comiskey had managed a major league team to a pennant before Connie Mack played his first big league game. Clark Griffith broke into the majors as a rookie pitcher under Comiskey. The Old Roman had been a dominant figure in baseball for 37 years before Charles Stoneham became president of John McGraw's New York Giants.
The second thing to understand is that the first Charles Comiskey was more than just a very early inhabitant of the world of bats and balls and paychecks. He exerted a profound influence on the game. As a player, he was the first man to follow the now obvious but then startling practice of moving away from first base to field a ground ball. He was a leader in the formation of the American League. His later feud with his onetime friend, Byron Bancroft Johnson, was a major factor in destroying the effectiveness of the then-existing National Commission, baseball's board of final appeal, and in bringing about the appointment of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. And news of the unsavory Black Sox Scandal (eight members of Comiskey's 1919 pennant winners had conspired to lose the World Series deliberately) gave Landis the opportunity to assume the near-absolute authority over baseball that he was to maintain for nearly a quarter of a century.