Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Lip Man 1

Disco Demolition Review...

Recommended Posts

The folks at Fuzzy Memories TV and You Tube have put together an interesting compilation of the events leading up to Disco Demolition Night and the evening itself. It starts the day before with Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall talking about the "Teen Night Promotion."

Some of the footage was never broadcast by WSNS-TV but was recorded by the folks working there at the time. According to the folks at Fuzzy Memories, a lot of them helped out in putting this together.

Not the greatest moment in Sox history but certainly one of historical significance:

Runs about an hour and a half.

 

Edited by Lip Man 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I interviewed Mike Veeck I asked him about that night and what went wrong:

ML: Talk to me about “Disco Demolition.” How did the idea first get started and how did you develop it?   

MV: “The idea actually started two years earlier in 1977. Jeff Swartz, a guy who worked for United Artists, suggested it to me. In 1978 in connection with Coke, we had a dance contest at Comiskey Park. There were 25,000 kids dancing on plywood stages that we had on the field. We thought it might be an idea to have a night for people who hate disco.”

“Anyway I get a call one day in 1979, from Swartz who says to turn on my radio to WLUP, that there is a guy named Steve Dahl who is going to blow up disco records at a shopping mall. I listened, then called him at 10:05 AM, as soon as he got off the air, and offered him the chance to do that at Comiskey Park. He was going to do it in front of 3,000 kids. It didn’t take long to convince him he could do it in front of 40 thousand kids.” 

ML: Let’s talk about that night, what went wrong, and what would you have done differently? 

MV: “My mistake was thinking that we’d get about 35,000 for the promotion. It turned out there were 60,000 inside the park and another 30-40 thousand on the streets around the park. Traffic was backed up all the way out to O’Hare Airport! Who had any idea that many kids would come out? WLUP was a 5,000 watt station; it wasn’t a giant like WLS or WCFL from when I was a kid.” 

“The other thing that happened was that we moved some of the police off the field. We had an adequate security force for 35,000 fans but not for 60,000. Outside of the park there were some temporary ticket booths staffed by older people. The kids were starting to get out of hand and started rocking those booths. We moved some of the police off the field outside to help. What happened next was the worst thing that could possible happen, the crowd began thinking as one and they realized there were only 35-40 police on the field. When a crowd begins thinking as one there is no such thing as crowd control. They said ‘let’s go on the field!’

ML: Some Sox fans feel DJ Steve Dahl could have done more to help calm the situation; instead he left the park with the riot in full force. Could he have done more to help? 

MV: “He could have made an effort. I, my dad and Harry Caray were all down on the field trying to regain control and he wasn’t... but the responsibility was mine. It was a bad decision.” 

“It was also a slow news day and that generated a tremendous amount of publicity, it was also an election year and Jayne Byrne used the situation as an election photo-op. What I most remember is newspaper guys like Bill Gleason saying what a tragedy it was. I know what a tragedy is, my daughter is losing her sight... this wasn’t a tragedy. The sun came up the next day; the Sox played another baseball game a few days later. It was the fourth forfeit in baseball history but how many take the same umbrage at 30,000 Dodger fans throwing baseballs on the field causing the fifth forfeit in baseball?” (Author’s Note: That took place on August 11, 1995 when Dodgers fans threw baseballs by the thousands on to the field with one out in the 9th inning in a game against the Cardinals. St. Louis was awarded a forfeit win.)  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Lip Man 1 said:

When I interviewed Mike Veeck I asked him about that night and what went wrong:

ML: Talk to me about “Disco Demolition.” How did the idea first get started and how did you develop it?   

MV: “The idea actually started two years earlier in 1977. Jeff Swartz, a guy who worked for United Artists, suggested it to me. In 1978 in connection with Coke, we had a dance contest at Comiskey Park. There were 25,000 kids dancing on plywood stages that we had on the field. We thought it might be an idea to have a night for people who hate disco.”

“Anyway I get a call one day in 1979, from Swartz who says to turn on my radio to WLUP, that there is a guy named Steve Dahl who is going to blow up disco records at a shopping mall. I listened, then called him at 10:05 AM, as soon as he got off the air, and offered him the chance to do that at Comiskey Park. He was going to do it in front of 3,000 kids. It didn’t take long to convince him he could do it in front of 40 thousand kids.” 

ML: Let’s talk about that night, what went wrong, and what would you have done differently? 

MV: “My mistake was thinking that we’d get about 35,000 for the promotion. It turned out there were 60,000 inside the park and another 30-40 thousand on the streets around the park. Traffic was backed up all the way out to O’Hare Airport! Who had any idea that many kids would come out? WLUP was a 5,000 watt station; it wasn’t a giant like WLS or WCFL from when I was a kid.” 

“The other thing that happened was that we moved some of the police off the field. We had an adequate security force for 35,000 fans but not for 60,000. Outside of the park there were some temporary ticket booths staffed by older people. The kids were starting to get out of hand and started rocking those booths. We moved some of the police off the field outside to help. What happened next was the worst thing that could possible happen, the crowd began thinking as one and they realized there were only 35-40 police on the field. When a crowd begins thinking as one there is no such thing as crowd control. They said ‘let’s go on the field!’

ML: Some Sox fans feel DJ Steve Dahl could have done more to help calm the situation; instead he left the park with the riot in full force. Could he have done more to help? 

MV: “He could have made an effort. I, my dad and Harry Caray were all down on the field trying to regain control and he wasn’t... but the responsibility was mine. It was a bad decision.” 

“It was also a slow news day and that generated a tremendous amount of publicity, it was also an election year and Jayne Byrne used the situation as an election photo-op. What I most remember is newspaper guys like Bill Gleason saying what a tragedy it was. I know what a tragedy is, my daughter is losing her sight... this wasn’t a tragedy. The sun came up the next day; the Sox played another baseball game a few days later. It was the fourth forfeit in baseball history but how many take the same umbrage at 30,000 Dodger fans throwing baseballs on the field causing the fifth forfeit in baseball?” (Author’s Note: That took place on August 11, 1995 when Dodgers fans threw baseballs by the thousands on to the field with one out in the 9th inning in a game against the Cardinals. St. Louis was awarded a forfeit win.)  

Not that it matters, but the election for mayor that year had been held in April, a few months before Disco Demolition.  So not sure what Veeck was talking about when he suggested Byrne took advantage of the situation for election purposes.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my interview with Sox infielder Greg Pryor:

ML: July 12, 1979 was a rather ‘unusual’ evening. It was “Disco Demolition” night at Comiskey Park. I’ve spoken with fans who were there (including future Sox pitcher Donn Pall and future actor Michael Clarke Duncan) and media members, but I’ve never spoken with a player who was there for that night. Why don’t you take me through the evening your perspective.

GP: “There were around 47 thousand on hand that night and the great majority was underage kids. They weren’t there to see a double header let’s say that. I played shortstop the first game and I remember getting an RBI double. It was the only run we got. (Author’s Note: The Sox lost to the Tigers 4-1) I’m in the locker room between games, I was supposed to play shortstop again in the second game and I see Ken Kravec. Ken was supposed to start game two and this was only a few minutes before we were supposed to begin and I was surprised that he was in the locker room so I asked him about it.” 

“He told me, “Have you seen what’s out there? There’s a riot going on!” So I ran back through the tunnel towards our dugout, I was still in my underwear. What I saw was like a battlefield after a war. They had blown up those records and the smoke was all over the field and it was complete chaos. I remember our equipment manager swinging a baseball bat to keep a bunch of kids from trying to get into the tunnel towards the clubhouse. Anyone who left anything in the dugout itself lost it. Everything was taken.” 

“I ran back to the clubhouse and eventually we bolted the door. We were in our own cave, we couldn’t get out. We heard the mounted horses arrive through the clubhouse walls. Outside of those few moments was I was looking on to the field I didn’t see anything else. We were locked in the clubhouse for about an hour and a half.”

 

“My wife arrived at the park near the end of the first game and she couldn’t get in. They locked all the gates because there were another 15 thousand kids trying to get in. She was stuck in her car and the crowd just started rocking it back and forth. Finally for her own safety the guard opened the gate so she could get in. As she was getting through she told me the kids were feeling her up. We were still finding pieces of blown up records on the field and in the grass a month later.” 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Lip Man 1 said:

The folks at Fuzzy Memories TV and You Tube have put together an interesting compilation of the events leading up to Disco Demolition Night and the evening itself. It starts the day before with Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall talking about the "Teen Night Promotion."

Some of the footage was never broadcast by WSNS-TV but was recorded by the folks working there at the time. According to the folks at Fuzzy Memories, a lot of them helped out in putting this together.

Not the greatest moment in Sox history but certainly one of historical significance:

Runs about an hour and a half.

 

I loved that old stadium. This promotion may have gone wrong but it was still a better idea than his "free vasectomy night" he had when he was in St.Paul.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Was watching the game itself and that was a sad team. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Disco Demolition happened and that's all I care about it. I think it has been talked about enough. It is significant but not for the reasons most cite. Otherwise we can go through every July without remembering it. I no longer care about these images and no longer care what happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, NWINFan said:

Disco Demolition happened and that's all I care about it. I think it has been talked about enough. It is significant but not for the reasons most cite. Otherwise we can go through every July without remembering it. I no longer care about these images and no longer care what happened.

Some of us who are old enough to remember the event enjoy the once-a-year recollection of that very unique night at Comiskey Park.  Seeing images of the old park itself, references to historical Chicago icons such as Bill Veeck, Harry Caray, Jimmy Piersall, Steve Dahl, etc., inspire a certain pleasant nostalgia for many of us.  

I could see being annoyed if it were a topic discussed non-stop, year round, but just for a few days on an annual basis, it’s not too bad.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, pcq said:

Was watching the game itself and that was a sad team. 

I was at that event. The team and the franchise was sad. The Bill Veeck ownership was absolutely hopeless. Shortly after that event  Veeck put the team up for sale. His ownership was so bad that virtually every White Sox fan was glad to see him sell the team. I was really surprised that Veeck was voted into the MLB HOF.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I heard a story about this from Jack Morris when he was interviewed as a Twin one time. Jack was in the bullpen when the 1st game was ending. He said that the smell of pot in the air was as thick as he had been around. Fans were really getting into the entire evening. 

 

Also, a buddy of mine was in the upper deck, he did not participate on the field. Not sure this is true or not, but he said when fans stormed the field that there were some kids who slid down the foul pole from the upper deck to 1st deck and then hopped onto the field.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, MnSoxFan said:

I heard a story about this from Jack Morris when he was interviewed as a Twin one time. Jack was in the bullpen when the 1st game was ending. He said that the smell of pot in the air was as thick as he had been around. Fans were really getting into the entire evening. 

 

Also, a buddy of mine was in the upper deck, he did not participate on the field. Not sure this is true or not, but he said when fans stormed the field that there were some kids who slid down the foul pole from the upper deck to 1st deck and then hopped onto the field.

That is true about the foul poll part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Fan O'Faust said:

Some of us who are old enough to remember the event enjoy the once-a-year recollection of that very unique night at Comiskey Park.  Seeing images of the old park itself, references to historical Chicago icons such as Bill Veeck, Harry Caray, Jimmy Piersall, Steve Dahl, etc., inspire a certain pleasant nostalgia for many of us.  

I could see being annoyed if it were a topic discussed non-stop, year round, but just for a few days on an annual basis, it’s not too bad.  

I can see your point, but the late Seventies provide few good memories. My best memories of the decade were home runs hit by Dick Allen and the Southside Hitmen. I also recall going to night games in the mid-Sixties when Comiskey was still in good shape and admiring the beauty of the place.

My largest point is that the real meaning of Disco Demolition gets lost in a haze of pot. And I don't consider Dahl much of an icon. He was a twenty-something who got in way over his head and since then has passed all the blame to Mike Veeck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×