Artist brings White Sox history to life by colorizing old pictures

 
 
Updated 7/28/2018 8:14 PM
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  • Colin Loftus, 7, of Glenview admires vintage baseball image murals at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago before a game between the White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. The murals are black and white images that have been colorized by Chris Whitehouse.

      Colin Loftus, 7, of Glenview admires vintage baseball image murals at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago before a game between the White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. The murals are black and white images that have been colorized by Chris Whitehouse. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • COURTESY OF CHRIS WHITEHOUSEChris Whitehouse is the artist responsible for the colorization of many of the old-time players' pictures and the massive murals and banners at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox. Whitehouse is from a large, Hampshire-area family and now lives in Thailand.

    COURTESY OF CHRIS WHITEHOUSEChris Whitehouse is the artist responsible for the colorization of many of the old-time players' pictures and the massive murals and banners at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox. Whitehouse is from a large, Hampshire-area family and now lives in Thailand.

  • Fans have their pictures taken in front of vintage murals at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. The murals are black and white images that have been colorized by Chris Whitehouse.

      Fans have their pictures taken in front of vintage murals at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. The murals are black and white images that have been colorized by Chris Whitehouse. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Chris Whitehouse is the artist responsible for the colorization of many of the old-time players' pictures and the massive murals and banners at Guaranteed Rate Field.

    Chris Whitehouse is the artist responsible for the colorization of many of the old-time players' pictures and the massive murals and banners at Guaranteed Rate Field. Courtesy of Chris Whitehouse

  • Chris Whitehouse colorized vintage White Sox and baseball images. These images appear in the Chicago White Sox 2018 game program in an article on his work.

    Chris Whitehouse colorized vintage White Sox and baseball images. These images appear in the Chicago White Sox 2018 game program in an article on his work. COURTESY OF CHRIS WHITEHOUSE

  • Chris Whitehouse colorized a 1911 portrait image of Billy Sullivan. The image appears in the Chicago White Sox 2018 game program.

    Chris Whitehouse colorized a 1911 portrait image of Billy Sullivan. The image appears in the Chicago White Sox 2018 game program. COURTESY OF CHRIS WHITEHOUSE

  • Youngsters examine vintage baseball image murals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

      Youngsters examine vintage baseball image murals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Fans pass by vintage baseball image murals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

      Fans pass by vintage baseball image murals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Fans pass by and have their pictures made in front of vintage baseball image murals at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.

      Fans pass by and have their pictures made in front of vintage baseball image murals at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Fans pass two-story vintage baseball image murals in The Sports Depot merchandise store at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.

      Fans pass two-story vintage baseball image murals in The Sports Depot merchandise store at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

Chris Whitehouse still remembers his first time at old Comiskey Park.

It was Luis Aparicio Day in July 1970, and 10-year-old Chris was there with his younger brother Tom and older brother Bob, who brought them from their East Dundee home in his baby blue '67 Mustang.

The White Sox honored the shortstop who one day would be elected to the Hall of Fame during an on-field ceremony that rainy Sunday between games of a doubleheader with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They gave Luis a yellow Opal sports car and a really boring station wagon," Chris says now. "I remember those cars out on the field and the banners and Luis going out to the cheers. It was really great."

It's a day that still inspires Whitehouse.

"I loved the arches," he says. "Number one, no other field had those arches going all around. And I also loved the old outfield stands where the upper deck was flush with the outfield wall. Just a very cozy feeling to the ballpark."

Those arches and nearly everything else about Old Comiskey are long gone, but thanks to Whitehouse, some of that history is still reflected in Guaranteed Rate Field because of his work to colorize White Sox team pictures from the early 20th century and to have those images reproduced at the ballpark.

Two 15-foot-wide fabric banners hang on wrought iron metalwork outside the park, and several two-story prints are featured inside The Sports Depot store across the street. Articles in the Sox game program and yearbook also highlight the images. Whitehouse attended SoxFest in January to show fans how he does what he does.

Teaming with his brother and business partner, Tom, Chris reached out to the White Sox in 2017 to gauge response to some Photoshop colorization work he had completed for their company, ManCave Pictures. The brothers worked feverishly to get something to the Sox, mindful of the centennial anniversary of the 1917 World Series Champion team.

"A 50-page bound book of Chris' work that Tom sent landed on my desk. I was amazed at the quality and the beauty of it, and I immediately reached out to Tom," said Gareth Breunlin, White Sox director of advertising and design.

Now fans regularly take selfies and group photos in front of the "Hitless Wonders" 1906 White Sox and also the "World Series 1917" banners displayed near Gate 3.

"We are seeing that fans can kind of turn back the clock and be part of history with these larger-than-life displays," Breunlin said.

Whitehouse says he's since received print requests from the relatives of Ty Cobb (he's now friends with Ty's granddaughter) and Cub great Gabby Hartnett.

Whitehouse is a 1978 graduate of Hampshire High School and a 1982 graduate of Northern Illinois University. During visits to Thailand in the 1980s to teach English to students there, he met his future wife, Yai, and they settled there.

Despite missing his beloved team ("I completely missed the Frank Thomas years; I never saw him play before MLB.com"), he remains a rabid White Sox fan.

Although most games during the years before the rise of the internet were not televised in Thailand, he was able to see the Sox win the World Series on cable.

"I was jumping up on the bed when they finally won that game in '05," he said.

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