Trying to boost sagging attendance in 1979, Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck, baseball's greatest showman, suggested a special "Teen Night" promotion, to take place on June 12th. Local WLUP DJ Steve Dahl, who had recently been fired from a rock radio station when it switched to the disco format, had a different idea entirely, and pitched it to Veeck.

His idea? Disco Demolition Night. During the break between games of a doubleheader, Dahl would serve as an on-field emcee as they detonated thousands of disco records. Anyone who brought a disco record would be charged just 98 cents for admission. Veeck loved the idea, especially since Dahl was willing to ceaselessly promote it to the "Insane Coho Lips Antidisco Army" he had been building up.

The fateful Thursday night came, and Comiskey Park was flooded. Over 50,000 fans were admitted to the stadium, with an estimated 15,000 crowding the gates outside. After the White Sox dropped the first game of the doubleheader, Dahl took the field for the demolition ceremony. The next twenty-eight minutes did not fold as expected...

Dahl pushed a button to blow up a huge box of disco records sitting in center field. And that was supposed to be it. But instead, fans began storming the field. By the dozens, then the hundreds, then the thousands! Vinyl records were tossed around like frisbees, at Dahl, at other fans, at security, even at opposing players who had been watching the ceremony. Fireworks were shot off by unruly fans. The pitcher's mound was stolen. A bonfire was erected in center field, with fans piling records into it. As thick fumes spewed out of the fire, a young man grabbed a hose, not to put out the fire, but rather to water the field. Apparently not content to water the field, he eventually turned the high-pressure hose on his fellow man.

More than twenty minutes after the initial explosion, police arrived in riot gear to a rousing applause from the fans still in their seats. By 9:08 the field was clear. Thirty-seven people were arrested, most without resisting. Countless injuries were reported, and after an hour and sixteen minute delay, chief umpire Rich Phillips announced that the game was postponed.

Tigers manager Sparky Anderson was furious at the incident, and demanded that the game be forfeited. Since the postponement was not due to an "Act of God", the American League agreed, and awarded the game to the Tigers. It was only the fourth American League forfeit, following the Senators last game in Washington, Beer Night in Cleveland on June 4, 1974, and the night Earl Weaver pulled his Orioles off the field in a 1977 game against the Blue Jays.

Feeling regrets after twenty-two (presumably guilt-ridden) years following the Disco Demolition debacle, promoter Mike Veeck (whose idea it had been, not Bill his father's), now working as a marketing consultant for the Florida Marlins, issued a formal apology on July 12, 2001 to the 32,629 baseball fans in attendance.

The "ceremony" was held before the Marlins/New York Yankees game, as part of the evening's "Disco Night" theme. That night the Marlins had asked attendees to show up in discotheque regalia and Harry Wayne Casey, KC of KC and the Sunshine Band was on hand (at Veeck's request) to receive the apology on behalf of the entire disco world.

Veeck said to the crowd, "I want to make it right. I want to tell you right from the bottom of my leisure suit that I'm sorry."

After the chaotic night in 1979, Veeck "didn't work for 10 years in baseball," he said, adding, "It backfired, and I took the heat. And it cost me personally. I went down the sewer. KC wasn't the only one whose gravy train stopped. I didn't work in baseball again until 1989."

Previously, Casey had stated, "It wasn't a very nice thing to do. There was no reason or call for it. It was a direct hit on myself and other artists who did that for a living. I didn't bash his baseball team."

Casey accepted his apology at the game, however, bringing Veeck much-needed closure.

Steve Dahl was not contacted by anybody, nor did he issue any statements of his own. He no longer works for Chicago's WLUP, 97.9, "the Loop." Mike's Dad Bill Veeck who had owned the Sox between 1959-1961 and bought them again in 1975 also had nothing to say. The BeeGees remained silent, but the disco community stays alive...

Incidently, a non-disco-related (basketball great) Alonzo Mourning threw out the first pitch, and the final score of the game was Marlins 9, Yankees 3.


quotes and information swiped from AP news, as originally heard on NPR, and the Miami Herald.
Story at yahoo:
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news/ap/20010712/ap-discodemolition.html
Disco Demolition "homepages":
http://www.outernetweb.com/focal/disco/ and
http://www.deepdisco.com/features/

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