For the first time in baseball history, a major league game was played outdoors on artificial grass when the Royals met the White Sox on an AstroTurf infield at Comiskey Park on April 16. And the general reaction was favorable from every sector – players, officials, and the fans who witnessed the contest live or via television.
Joe Cronin, American League president who was present for the White Sox home opener, was highly enthusiastic after making a close inspection of the “green rug” of the Mansanto Co. “This artificial grass infield is going to make for more excitement,” said Cronin, a one-time shortstop himself. “And I mean defensively as well as offensively.”
“Sure, it’s going to help the batters, especially the White Sox, who will be playing 81 games here. And it’s about time they got some encouragement because this always has been a tough park to hit in with a soft infield and the wind blowing in. But one thing that generally has been overlooked is the fact that the fast AstroTurf will result in more double plays. And that means more excitement. A double play is one of the more thrilling maneuvers in baseball.” His pre-game comments were borne out as there were four double plays in the game, however three were by the visiting Royals. The game also featured four errors, three by the same visiting Royals.
Ironically, the shorter outfield dimensions weren’t a factor either in the season’s first game at Comiskey. Left and right field were reduced 17 feet to 335 by a temporary fence and the bullpen fence in center was moved in 15 feet to an even 400. There were no home runs in the game.