Today marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most notorious incidents in baseball history. It was July 12, 1979 when Mike Veeck convinced his dad, Chicago White Sox owner Bill, to let him invite a popular Chicago disc jockey to blow up disco records - by then becoming the scourge of the music world - between games of a doubleheader against Detroit and charge fans 98 cents for tickets. An easy way to liven up what promised to be a less-than-thrilling day and night of baseball between two non-contenders.
Of course, we all know what happened from there - the enthusiasm for hastening the death of disco turned into a full-blown riot, and the White Sox were forced to forfeit the second game of the doubleheader. Known as Disco Demolition Night, it ruined careers and has become part of baseball folklore. To get a sense of how the local media treated it as it happened, check out some vintage news footage after the jump:
MLB.COM has taken the anniversary as a chance to look back at the infamous night with two of the White Sox pitchers: Ed Farmer, who closed out Game 1 with 3 2/3 innings of work, and scheduled Game 2 starter Ken Kravec. What both players remember is disco records whizzing past their heads and fearing for their lives. Kravec had to move his warm-ups from the bullpen to the mound for his own safety, while Farmer recalls this:
“I pitched [3 2/3] innings to finish the first game, and I would be throwing, getting the signs, and a 45 record would fly by the mound. Someone would toss it from the lower deck or the upper deck and it would fly through and on to the field right past you.”
“You are talking about a famous moment in the city of Chicago. Things took place in that stadium that never happened before or after.”
Of course, it didn’t help that Bill Veeck had only hired enough security for 35,000 fans, even though between paid attendance and fans busting in (even climbing fences with ladders) there were more like 60,000 people there. At least they were mostly stoned, which Mike Veeck told the NEW YORK TIMES probably kept things from becoming a full-scale riot.
But is was pretty close, as you can see from the live coverage of the Disco Demolition:
Promotions had gone horribly wrong before (see: 10 Cent Beer Night) and would later (see: Free Ball Night at Dodger Stadium), but Disco Demolition Night holds a special place in baseball. Mainly because anything that upsets the guy from K.C. and the Sunshine Band is OK with me.