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The Best/Worst Promotion In Baseball History

Fred

By Fred Wallace

 Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire ".

 

Today is the 40th anniversary of the BEST promotion in the history of Major League Baseball.

Today is also the 40th anniversary of the WORST promotion in the history of Major League Baseball.

We're talking about the same promotion, and whether it was the BEST or the Worst, depends on your perspective.

On July 12, 1979, the Chicago White Sox were hosting the Detroit Tigers in an American League doubleheader at Comiskey Park.

The evening was dubbed " Disco Demolition Night ".

The concept was for White Sox fans to bring a disco album to the game and for 98 cents they would be admitted to the doubleheader and between games the albums collected would be placed in a bin and blown up in a crate in centerfield.

The promotion was a collaboration between Mike Veeck, who did White Sox events, and radio station WLUP 97.9; thus the 98 cent entry fee tie in.

The leader of the WLUP gang was disc jockey Steve Dahl who had been fired on Christmas Eve the year before when the station he worked at, WDAI, changed formats........to disco.

Three months later, Dahl was at WLUP and slamming disco at every opportunity, catching the attention of Veeck and the White Sox promotions team who were tasked with trying to attract fans to see a struggling club.

Initially, Dahl worried that the promotion would attract a sparse crowd and it would be embarrassing to all involved.

They were right....and they were wrong

Comiskey Park was jammed that night, more than 50,000 people, many of whom had no interest in baseball, paying to get in and thousands of others on the outside, unable to purchase tickets but finding their way into the park by scaling the walls and sliding in through window openings.

The security on hand was needed to control the exterior of the park and thus were absent when Dahl took to the field for the big event.

The crate exploded, the records flew, disco was demolished......and then all hell broke loose..

One, two, five, a dozen people rushed the field, followed quickly by 7,000 more who set about tearing up the field, destroying the batting cage, stealing home plate, and generally ransacking Comiskey Park until 40 Chicago cops arrived and quelled the riot more than a half hour later.

The White Sox had to forfeit the 2nd game of that doubleheader as the field was deemed to be unplayable.

And 40 years later, the discussion remains, was " Disco Demolition Night " the greatest or the worst promotion in the history of Major League Baseball.

 

I'm Fred Wallace


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