Last Comiskey is a love letter to a ballpark and a team
The year was 1990. The Chicago White Sox had a young team and expectations on the field were low. Off the field, the organization was preparing to move from the oldest ballpark in the major leagues to the newest.
But then something happened. The club full of upstarts somehow managed to give the powerful Oakland A's a run for their money. While finishing nine games back in the standings, the season was a forerunner to more success for the team.
Watching it all was a 15 year old fan, Matt Flesch. That season, and the excitement it brought, never left him. Now, more than three decades later, he's sharing those memories in a new three part documentary. Titled "Last Comiskey", it's available for free on YouTube.
"That year just stuck with me," Flesch said. "Then 2020 came around. I had some extra time on my hands. With COVID, there was just less to do. So I started to play around making some short videos on YouTube with my brother Mike."
Neither had any experience in filmmaking. Matt, who works in communications for a biotech firm, said he never envisioned the project would grow the way it did. '
"We walked into this...thinking it would be maybe 10 to 15 minutes, reflections from different people in and around that park."
After making contact with players from the era and the former White Sox organist Nancy Faust, things started to come together. Fans were also a big help, providing a lot of the photos and video seen in the documentary.
"Just the stories they had made us realize this could and should be something bigger," Flesch said.
The two brothers gathered their own team to help with the technical aspects. For an amateur, nonprofit effort, the final version rivals similar documentaries with bigger budgets.
While the film focuses on 1990, it also recalls favorite White Sox moments over the past half century, including the 1977 South Side Hitmen team that came challenged for a division title and the 1983 club that captured the American League West crown.
Team officials, sports reporters and even vendors are interviewed. They tell stories of massive beer consumption and general mayhem, including one of the most infamous promotions, 1979's Disco Demolition night.
Key moments feature Faust — who not only provided a musical background for the fans — but helped drive the enthusiasm with songs that mirrored what was happening on the field. Faust speaks of fan interactions in which they suggested what to play. That included Madonna songs when A's slugger Jose Canseco came to bat, as word circulated the two were dating.
Faust is also known for providing a send off to opponents when the Sox came out on top, giving her rendition of Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye."
"That's one of the things I'm hearing from people is that when they hear the crowd and hear Nancy's playing, they can smell the hot dogs and stale beer," said Flesch.
"I think the reason it's so sacred is it's something you experience together with friends and your family. You're going to the ballgame with people you really care about. I think that's one of the reasons you look back at the history so fondly because it just reminds you of good times," Flesch said.
"It's important, but you know it's not life or death."
The project has allowed him to think about the old park and what might have been. Flesch thinks at least a portion of the structure could have been kept for fans to visit. Maybe it would have become a baseball destination, similar to Wrigley Field and Boston's Fenway Park.
"It would be Hey, you're coming to Chicago. You've got to check out Comiskey Park. It's the oldest park in the majors and there's really no place like it."