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.