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Where Did The Chicago White Sox Get Their Start? Hint: Think Corn

The Sioux City (Iowa) Cornhuskers in 1891. The Cornhuskers would eventually be known as the Chicago White Sox. [Sioux City Museum]

CHICAGO — Would you believe the Chicago White Sox franchise began in, of all places, Sioux City, Iowa?

It's true.

The White Sox originated as the Sioux City Cornhuskers in 1888. They played in Iowa until 1894, winning Western League titles in 1891 and 1894, before Charles Comiskey bought the team and moved it to St. Paul, Minn.

The franchise became known as the St. Paul Saints and then eventually headed south to Chicago in 1900, first as the White Stockings (after the team that later became the Cubs stopped using it) and then the White Sox.

"It's definitely something that has been lost to history," said Tom Munson, the archival records clerk at the Sioux City Museum.

The Cornhuskers played in Evans Driving Park, a horse racing facility that had a baseball diamond inside the track. Munson said he's only ever seen three photos of the Cornhuskers, including championship team pictures from 1891 and 1894.

Munson said during the late 1800s, it's not surprising Sioux City had a major professional baseball team. The city's population, about 55,000, made it one of the top 100 metropolises in the United States, and baseball had it roots in Midwest.

"It's kind of like Green Bay having a football team now," Munson said.

The Cornhuskers were ripe to be plucked from Sioux City by 1894, Munson said, because the population had plummeted to 30,000 and the area's economy was in shambles.

When Munson tells museum visitors, and even longtime Sioux City residents, that the city fielded what would become the White Sox, almost everyone is in shock.

"People just have no idea that Sioux City had what would become a Major League Baseball team that actually exists today," Munson said.

Sioux City Cornhuskers in 1894, one of only a few photos of the Cornhuskers that exists. [Sioux City Museum]

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