Disco Demolition Night

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Disco Demolition Night
DateJuly 12, 1979
Time6 pm CDT and following
Location Comiskey Park,
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
CausePromotional event admitted those with a disco record
for 98¢
Participants Steve Dahl, Mike Veeck, and several thousand attendees
OutcomeGame 2 of the Tigers/
White Sox doubleheader
forfeited to Detroit
DeathsNone
Non-fatal injuriesBetween 0 and 30
Property damageDamage to the field of Comiskey Park
SuspectsApprox. 39
ChargesDisorderly conduct

Disco Demolition Night was a baseball promotion on Thursday, July 12, 1979, at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois that ended in a riot. At the climax of the event, a crate filled with disco records was blown up on the field between games of the twi-night doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Many of those in attendance had come to see the explosion rather than the games and rushed onto the field after the detonation. The playing field was so damaged by the explosion and by the fans that the White Sox were required to forfeit the second game to the Tigers.

Baseball team sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Comiskey Park former baseball park

Comiskey Park was a baseball park in Chicago, Illinois, located in the Armour Square neighborhood on the near-southwest side of the city. The stadium served as the home of the Chicago White Sox of the American League from 1910 through 1990. Built by White Sox owner Charles Comiskey and designed by Zachary Taylor Davis, Comiskey Park hosted four World Series and more than 6,000 Major League Baseball games. Also, in one of the most famous boxing matches in history, the field was the site of the 1937 heavyweight title match in which Joe Louis defeated then champion James J. Braddock in eight rounds that launched Louis' unprecedented 11-plus year run as the heavyweight champion of the world.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and portions of the city extend westward into neighboring DuPage County. It is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland. At nearly 10 million people, the metropolitan area is the third-largest in the United States.

Contents

In the late 1970s, dance-oriented disco music was popular in the United States, particularly after being featured in hit films such as Saturday Night Fever (1977). Disco sparked a backlash from rock music fans. This opposition was prominent enough that the White Sox, seeking to fill seats at Comiskey Park during a lackluster season, engaged Chicago shock jock and anti-disco campaigner Steve Dahl for the promotion at the July 12 doubleheader. Dahl's sponsoring radio station was 97.9 WLUP, so admission was discounted to 98 cents for attendees who turned in a disco record; between games, Dahl was to destroy the collected vinyl in an explosion.

Disco music genre

Disco is a genre of dance music and a subculture that emerged in the 1970s from the United States' urban nightlife scene.

<i>Saturday Night Fever</i> 1977 disco-themed film directed by John Badham

Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American drama film directed by John Badham. It stars John Travolta as Tony Manero, a working-class young man who spends his weekends dancing and drinking at a local Brooklyn discothèque; Karen Lynn Gorney as Stephanie Mangano, his dance partner and eventual confidante; and Donna Pescow as Annette, Tony's former dance partner and would-be girlfriend. While in the disco, Tony is the champion dancer. His circle of friends and weekend dancing help him to cope with the harsh realities of his life: a dead-end job, clashes with his unsupportive and squabbling parents, racial tensions in the local community, and his general restlessness.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

White Sox officials had hoped for a crowd of 20,000, about 5,000 more than usual. Instead, at least 50,000—including tens of thousands of Dahl's adherents—packed the stadium, and thousands more continued to sneak in after gates were closed. Many of the records were not collected by staff and were thrown like flying discs from the stands. After Dahl blew up the collected records, thousands of fans stormed the field and remained there until dispersed by riot police.

Pitch invasion act of running onto the playing area of a sporting event

A pitch invasion occurs when an individual or a crowd of people watching a sporting event run onto the playing area to celebrate or protest an incident. Pitch invasions may involve individual people or capacity crowds. Pitch invasions can result in charges being brought, possibly resulting in fines or jail time, and sanctions against the club(s) involved, especially if the actions cause a disruption in play.

The second game was initially postponed, but forfeited by the White Sox the next day by order of American League president Lee MacPhail. Disco Demolition Night preceded, and may have helped precipitate, the decline of disco in late 1979; some scholars and disco artists have described the event as expressive of racism and homophobia. Disco Demolition Night remains well known as one of the most extreme promotions in Major League history.

American League Baseball league, part of Major League Baseball

The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League.

Lee MacPhail American baseball executive

Leland Stanford MacPhail Jr. was an American front-office executive in Major League Baseball. MacPhail was a baseball executive for 45 years, serving as the director of player personnel for the New York Yankees, the president and general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, chief aide to Commissioner of Baseball William Eckert, executive vice president and general manager of the Yankees, and president of the American League.

Racism race or ethnic-based discrimination

Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another. It may also include prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity, or the belief that members of different races or ethnicities should be treated differently. Modern variants of racism are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. These views can take the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems in which different races are ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities.

Background

Disco evolved in the early 1970s in inner-city New York nightclubs, where disc jockeys played imported dance music. Although its roots were in African-American and Latin American music, and in gay culture, it eventually became mainstream; even white artists better known for more sedate music had disco-influenced hits, such as Barry Manilow's "Copacabana". [1] The release of the hit movie Saturday Night Fever in 1977, [2] whose star (John Travolta) and musical performers (the Bee Gees) presented a heterosexual image, helped popularize disco in the USA. As Al Coury, president of RSO Records (which had released the bestselling soundtrack album for the film) put it, Saturday Night Fever "took disco out of the closet". [3]

Nightclub entertainment venue which usually operates late into the night

A nightclub, music club or club, is an entertainment venue and bar that usually operates late into the night. A nightclub is generally distinguished from regular bars, pubs or taverns by the inclusion of a stage for live music, one or more dance floor areas and a DJ booth, where a DJ plays recorded music. The upmarket nature of nightclubs can be seen in the inclusion of VIP areas in some nightclubs, for celebrities and their guests. Nightclubs are much more likely than pubs or sports bars to use bouncers to screen prospective clubgoers for entry. Some nightclub bouncers do not admit people with informal clothing or gang apparel as part of a dress code. The busiest nights for a nightclub are Friday and Saturday night. Most clubs or club nights cater to certain music genres, such as house music or hip hop. Many clubs have recurring club nights on different days of the week. Most club nights focus on a particular genre or sound for branding effects.

Disc jockey Person who plays recorded music for an audience

A disc jockey, more commonly abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays existing recorded music for a live audience. Most common types of DJs include radio DJ, club DJ who performs at a nightclub or music festival and turntablist who uses record players, usually turntables, to manipulate sounds on phonograph records. Originally, the disc in disc jockey referred to gramophone records, but now DJ is used as an all-encompassing term to describe someone who mixes recorded music from any source, including cassettes, CDs or digital audio files on a CDJ or laptop. The title 'DJ' is commonly used by DJs in front of their real names or adopted pseudonyms or stage names. In recent years it has become common for DJs to be featured as the credited artist on tracks they produced despite having a guest vocalist that performs the entire song: like for example Uptown Funk.

Dance music music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing

Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement. In terms of performance, the major categories are live dance music and recorded dance music. While there exist attestations of the combination of dance and music in ancient times, the earliest Western dance music that we can still reproduce with a degree of certainty are the surviving medieval dances. In the Baroque period, the major dance styles were noble court dances. In the classical music era, the minuet was frequently used as a third movement, although in this context it would not accompany any dancing. The waltz also arose later in the classical era. Both remained part of the romantic music period, which also saw the rise of various other nationalistic dance forms like the barcarolle, mazurka, ecossaise, ballade and polonaise.

Some felt disco was too mechanical; Time magazine deemed it a "diabolical thump-and-shriek". [2] [4] Others hated it for the associated scene, with its emphasis on personal appearance and style of dress. [2] [4] The media emphasized its roots in gay culture. According to historian Gillian Frank, "by the time of the Disco Demolition in Comiskey Park, the media ... cultivated a widespread perception that disco was taking over". [5] Performers who cultivated a gay image, such as the Village People (described by Rolling Stone as "the face of disco"), did nothing to efface these perceptions, and fears that rock music would die out increased after disco albums dominated the 21st Grammy Awards in February 1979. [6]

Time is an American weekly news magazine and news website published in New York City. It was founded in 1923 and originally run by Henry Luce. A European edition is published in London and also covers the Middle East, Africa, and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong. The South Pacific edition, which covers Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, is based in Sydney. In December 2008, Time discontinued publishing a Canadian advertiser edition.

Village People American disco group

Village People is an American disco group best known for their on-stage costumes, catchy tunes, and suggestive lyrics. The group was originally formed by French producers Jacques Morali, Henri Belolo and lead singer Victor Willis following the release of the debut album Village People, which targeted disco's gay audience. The group's name refers to New York City's Greenwich Village, at the time known for its large gay population. The characters were a symbolic group of American masculinity and macho gay-fantasy personas.

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content, including music, entertainment, and politics.

In 1978, New York's WKTU-FM, a low-rated rock station, switched to disco and became the most popular station in the country; this led other stations to try to emulate its success. [3] In Chicago, Steve Dahl, then 24, was working as a disc jockey for local radio station WDAI when he was fired on Christmas Eve 1978 as part of the station's switch from rock to disco. He was hired by rival album-rock station WLUP. Sensing an incipient anti-disco backlash [4] [7] and playing off the publicity surrounding his firing (he frequently mocked WDAI's "Disco DAI" slogan on the air as "Disco DIE"), Dahl created a mock organization, the "Insane Coho Lips", an anti-disco army consisting of his listeners. [8] According to Andy Behrens of ESPN, Dahl and his broadcast partner Garry Meier "organized the Cohos around a simple and surprisingly powerful idea: Disco Sucks". [4]

According to Dahl, in 1979, the Cohos were locked in a war "dedicated to the eradication of the dreaded musical disease known as DISCO". [9] In the weeks leading up to Disco Demolition Night, Dahl promoted a number of anti-disco public events, several of which became unruly. When a discotheque in Linwood, Indiana, switched from disco to rock in June, Dahl arrived, as did several thousand Cohos, and the police were called. Later that month, Dahl and several thousand Cohos occupied a teen disco in the Chicago suburbs. At the end of June, Dahl urged his listeners to throw marshmallows at a WDAI promotional van at a shopping mall where a teen disco had been built. The Cohos chased the van and driver and cornered them in a local park, though the situation ended without violence. On July 1, a near-riot occurred in Hanover Park, Illinois, when hundreds of Cohos could not enter a sold-out promotional event, and fights broke out. Some 50 police officers were needed to control the situation. When disco star Van McCoy died suddenly on July 6, Dahl marked the occasion by destroying one of his records, "The Hustle", on the air. [10]

Do ya think I'm disco
Cuz I spend so much time
Blow drying out my hair?
Do ya think I'm disco
Cuz I know the dance steps
Learned them all at Fred Astaire?

—Steve Dahl, "Do You Think I'm Disco?" (1979) [11]

Dahl and Meier regularly mocked disco records on the radio. Dahl also recorded his own song, "Do Ya Think I'm Disco?", a parody of Rod Stewart's disco-oriented hit "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?". [8] [12] The song characterized discotheques as populated by effeminate men and frigid women. The protagonist, named Tony after Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever, is unable to attract a woman until he abandons the disco scene, selling his white three-piece suit at a garage sale and melting down his gold chains for a Led Zeppelin belt buckle. [13]

A number of anti-disco incidents took place elsewhere in the first half of 1979, showing that "the Disco Demolition was not an isolated incident or an aberration." In Seattle, hundreds of rock fans attacked a mobile dance floor, while in Portland, Oregon, a disc jockey destroyed a stack of disco records with a chainsaw as thousands cheered. In New York, a rock DJ played Donna Summer's disco hit "Hot Stuff" and received protests from listeners. [14]

Baseball

Since the 1940s, Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck had been noted for using promotions to attract fan interest; he stated "you can draw more people with a losing team plus bread and circuses than with a losing team and a long, still silence". His son, Mike, was the promotions director for the White Sox in 1979. Mike Veeck wrote in a letter to a fan before the season that team management intended to make sure that whether the White Sox won or lost, the fans would have fun. [15]

Early in the 1979 season, on May 2, the Tigers–White Sox game at Comiskey Park was rained out. Officials rescheduled it as part of a twi-night doubleheader on Thursday, July 12. [16] Already scheduled for the evening of July 12 was a promotion aimed at teenagers, who could purchase tickets at half the regular price. [15]

The White Sox had a "Disco Night" at Comiskey Park in 1977; Mike Veeck, WLUP Sales Manager Jeff Schwartz, and WLUP Promotions Director Dave Logan discussed the possibility of an anti-disco night promotion after Schwartz mentioned that the White Sox were looking to do a promotion with the station. The matter had also been brought up early in the 1979 season when Schwartz told Mike Veeck of Dahl and his plans to blow up a crate of disco records while live on the air from a shopping mall. During a meeting at WLUP, Dahl was asked if he would be interested in blowing up records at Comiskey Park on July 12. Since the radio frequency of WLUP was 97.9, the promotion for July 12, "Disco Demolition Night" (in addition to the offer for teenagers) was that anyone who brought a disco record to the ballpark would be admitted for 98 cents. Dahl was to blow up the collected records between games of the doubleheader. [15]

Event

Comiskey Park in 1990 Old comiskey park.jpg
Comiskey Park in 1990

In the weeks before the event, Dahl invited his listeners to bring records they wanted to see destroyed to Comiskey Park. [17] He feared that the promotion would fail to draw people to the ballpark, and that he would be humiliated. The previous night's attendance had been 15,520, [4] and Comiskey Park had a capacity of 44,492. [18] The White Sox were not having a good year, and were 40–46 going into the July 12 doubleheader. [4] The White Sox and WLUP hoped for a crowd of 20,000, [16] and Mike Veeck hired enough security for 35,000. [19]

Owner Bill Veeck was concerned the promotion might become a disaster and checked himself out of the hospital, where he had been undergoing tests. [19] His fears were substantiated when he saw the people walking towards the ballpark that afternoon; many carried signs that described disco in profane terms. [4] [15]

The doubleheader sold out, leaving at least 20,000 people outside the ballpark. [15] Some leapt turnstiles, climbed fences, and entered through open windows. [20] The attendance was officially reported as 47,795, [21] though Bill Veeck estimated that there were anywhere from 50,000 to 55,000 in the park—easily the largest crowd of his second stint as White Sox owner. [22] The Chicago Police Department closed off-ramps from the Dan Ryan Expressway near the stadium. [4] Attendees were supposed to deposit their records into a large box, some 4 by 6 by 5 feet (1.2 by 1.8 by 1.5 m) tall; once the box was overflowing, many people brought their discs to their seats. [23]

The first game was to begin at 6 pm CDT, with the second game to follow. [24] Lorelei, a model who did public appearances for WLUP and who was popular in Chicago that summer for her sexually provocative poses in the station's advertisements, threw out the first pitch. [25] [26] As the first game began, Mike Veeck received word that thousands of people were trying to get into the park without tickets, and sent his security personnel to the stadium gates to stop them. This left the field unattended, and fans began throwing the uncollected disco LPs and singles from the stands. Tigers designated hitter Rusty Staub remembered that the records would slice through the air, and land sticking out of the ground. He urged teammates to wear batting helmets when playing their positions, "It wasn't just one, it was many. Oh, God almighty, I've never seen anything so dangerous in my life." [27] Attendees also threw firecrackers, empty liquor bottles, and lighters onto the field. The game was stopped several times because of the rain of foreign objects. [15]

Dozens of hand-painted banners with such slogans as "Disco sucks" were hung from the ballpark's seating decks. [25] White Sox broadcaster Harry Caray saw groups of music fans wandering the stands. Others sat intently in their seats, awaiting the explosion. [28] Mike Veeck recalled an odor of marijuana in the grandstand and said of the attendees, "This is the Woodstock they never had." [19] The odor permeated the press box, which Caray and his broadcast partner, Jimmy Piersall, commented on over the air. [23] The crowds outside the stadium also threw records, or gathered them and burned them in bonfires. [27] Detroit won the first game, 4–1. [4]

Explosion

Garry Meier Garry Meier.jpg
Garry Meier

The first game ended at 8:16 pm; at 8:40, Dahl, dressed in army fatigues and a helmet, [25] emerged onto the playing surface together with Meier and Lorelei. They circled the field in a Jeep, showered (according to Dahl, lovingly) by his troops with firecrackers and beer, then proceeded to center field where the box containing the records awaited, rigged with explosives. Dahl and Meier warmed up the crowd, leading attendees in a chant of "disco sucks". Lorelei recalled that the view from center field was surreal. On the mound, White Sox pitcher Ken Kravec, scheduled to start the second game, began to warm up. Other White Sox, in the dugout and wearing batting helmets, looked out upon the scene. Fans who felt events were getting out of control and who wished to leave the ballpark had difficulty doing so; in an effort to deny the intruders entry, security had padlocked all but one gate. [4] [20]

Dahl told the crowd:

This is now officially the world's largest anti-disco rally! Now listen—we took all the disco records you brought tonight, we got 'em in a giant box, and we're gonna blow 'em up reeeeeeal goooood. [23]

Dahl set off the explosives, destroying the records and tearing a large hole in the outfield grass. [28] With most of the security personnel still watching the gates per Mike Veeck's orders, there was almost no one guarding the playing surface. [21] Soon, the first of 5,000 to 7,000 attendees rushed onto the field, causing Kravec to flee the mound and join his teammates in a barricaded clubhouse. Some climbed the foul poles, while others set records on fire or ripped up the grass. The batting cage was destroyed, and the bases were pulled up and stolen. Among those taking to the field was 21-year-old aspiring actor Michael Clarke Duncan; during the melee, Duncan slid into third base, had a silver belt buckle stolen, [29] and went home with a bat from the dugout. [30] As Bill Veeck stood with a microphone near where home plate had been, begging people to return to the stands, a bonfire raged in center field. [4] [16] [20] [31]

Years later, Lorelei remembered that she had been waving to the crowd when she was grabbed by two of the bodyguards who had accompanied the Jeep, who placed her back in the vehicle. The party was unable to return to home plate because of the rowdy fans, so the Jeep was driven out of the stadium and through the surrounding streets, to the delight of the many Cohos outside the stadium, who recognized the occupants. They were driven to the front of the stadium, ushered back inside, and taken up to the press room where they had spent most of the first game. [26]

Caray unsuccessfully attempted to restore order by the public address system. The scoreboard, flashing "PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR SEATS", was ignored, as was the playing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". Some attendees danced in circles around the burning vinyl shards. [23] Dahl offered his help to get the rowdy fans to leave, but it was declined. [32]

At 9:08 pm, [14] Chicago police in full riot gear arrived, to the applause of the baseball fans remaining in the stands. Those on the field hastily dispersed upon seeing the police. Thirty-nine people were arrested for disorderly conduct; estimates of injuries to those at the event range from none to over thirty. [20]

Bill Veeck wanted the teams to play the second game once order was restored. However, the field was so badly torn up that umpiring crew chief Dave Phillips felt that it was still not playable, even after White Sox groundskeepers spent an hour clearing away debris. Tigers manager Sparky Anderson refused to allow his players to take the field in any event due to safety concerns. Phillips called American League president Lee MacPhail, who postponed the second game to Sunday after hearing a report on conditions. Anderson, however, demanded that the game be forfeited to the Tigers. He argued that under baseball's rules, a game can only be postponed due to an act of God, and that, as the home team, the White Sox were responsible for field conditions. The next day, MacPhail forfeited the second game to the Tigers 9–0. In a ruling that largely upheld Anderson's arguments, MacPhail stated that the White Sox had failed to provide acceptable playing conditions. [4] [22] [33] [34]

Reaction and aftermath

Dahl in 2008 Steve Dahl.jpg
Dahl in 2008

The day after the event, Dahl began his regular morning broadcast by reading the indignant headlines in the local papers. He mocked the coverage, saying: "I think for the most part everything was wonderful. Some maniac Cohos got wild, went down on the field. Which you shouldn't have done. Bad little Cohos." Tigers manager Anderson said of the events: "Beer and baseball go together, they have for years. But I think those kids were doing things other than beer." [4] Columnist David Israel of the Chicago Tribune said on July 12 that he was not surprised by the events, writing: "It would have happened any place 50,000 teenagers got together on a sultry summer night with beer and reefer." White Sox pitcher Rich Wortham, a Texan, said: "This wouldn't have happened if they had country and western night." [35]

Although Bill Veeck took much of the public criticism for the fiasco, his son Mike suffered repercussions as the front-office promoter. Mike Veeck remained with the White Sox until late 1980, when he resigned; his father sold the team to Jerry Reinsdorf soon afterward. He was unable to find another job in baseball for some time and claimed that he had been blackballed. For several years, he worked for a jai-alai fronton in Florida, battling alcoholism. [36] As Mike Veeck said: "The second that first guy shimmied down the outfield wall, I knew my life was over!" [28] Mike Veeck has since become an owner of minor league baseball teams. [37] In July 2014, the Charleston RiverDogs, of whom Veeck is president, held a promotion involving the destruction of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus merchandise. [38] Dahl is still a radio personality in Chicago and also releases podcasts. [39]

Cultural significance

The popularity of disco declined significantly in late 1979 and 1980. Many disco artists continued, but record companies began labeling their recordings as dance music. [1] Dahl stated in a 2004 interview that by 1979 disco was "probably on its way out. But I think [Disco Demolition Night] hastened its demise". [40] According to Frank, "the Disco Demolition triggered a nationwide expression of anger against disco that caused disco to recede quickly from the American cultural landscape". [41]

Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh described Disco Demolition Night as "your most paranoid fantasy about where the ethnic cleansing of the rock radio could ultimately lead". [1] Marsh was one who, at the time, deemed the event an expression of bigotry, writing in a year-end 1979 feature that "white males, eighteen to thirty-four are the most likely to see disco as the product of homosexuals, blacks, and Latins, and therefore they're the most likely to respond to appeals to wipe out such threats to their security. It goes almost without saying that such appeals are racist and sexist, but broadcasting has never been an especially civil-libertarian medium." [42]

Nile Rodgers, producer and guitarist for the disco-era band Chic, likened the event to Nazi book burning. [7] Gloria Gaynor, who had a huge disco hit with "I Will Survive", stated, "I've always believed it was an economic decision—an idea created by someone whose economic bottom line was being adversely affected by the popularity of disco music. So they got a mob mentality going." [1]

University of East London professor Tim Lawrence states, "Following the unexpected commercial success of Saturday Night Fever , major record companies had started to invest heavily in a sound that their white straight executive class did not care for, and when the overproduction of disco coincided with a deep recession, the homophobic (and also in many respects sexist and racist) 'disco sucks' campaign culminated with a record burning rally that was staged at the home of the Chicago White Sox in July 1979." [43] Historian Joshua M. Zeitz suggests that, while "an obvious explanation for the Disco Demolition Night riot might center on the desire of white, working-class baseball fans to strike out against an art form that they associated with African Americans, gays and lesbians, and Latinos", [44] he notes that that demographic group (from which many of the July 12 participants came) swung wildly in the 1980 presidential primaries and election, first supporting liberal Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the Democratic primary, then the conservative Republican nominee, former California governor Ronald Reagan, in the general election, both times opposing President Jimmy Carter, a centrist. "Viewed in this light, Disco Demolition Night supports an altogether different interpretation of the 1970s as a decade that saw ordinary Americans gravitate to radical grassroots alternatives, both left and right, out of frustration with the political center." [45]

Nevertheless, Harry Wayne Casey, singer for the disco act KC and the Sunshine Band, did not believe Disco Demolition Night itself was discriminatory, and stated his belief that Dahl was simply an idiot. [4]

Dahl denies that prejudice was his motivation for the event. "The worst thing is people calling Disco Demolition homophobic or racist. It just wasn't ... We weren't thinking like that." [4] In a 2014 op-ed for Crain's Chicago Business , Dahl defended the event as "a romp, not of major cultural significance". [46] He wrote that it had been "reframed" as prejudiced by a 1996 VH1 documentary about the 1970s, in a move he described as "a cheap shot made without exploration". [46]

In response to Dahl's op-ed, NBC Chicago political journalist Mark W. Anderson, who attended Disco Demolition aged 15, described the fear that white neighborhoods would be taken over by blacks and the anxiety around shifting pop culture trends. He wrote:

The chance to yell "disco sucks" meant more than simply a musical style choice. It was a chance to push back on a whole set of social dynamics that lay just beneath the surface of a minor battle between a DJ and a radio station that decided to change formats. More importantly, it was a chance for a whole lot of people to say they didn't like the way the world was changing around them, or who they saw as the potential victors in a cultural and demographic war. [47]

The unplayed second game remains the last American League game to be forfeited. [48] The last National League game to be forfeited was on August 10, 1995, when a baseball giveaway promotion at Dodger Stadium went awry, forcing the Los Angeles Dodgers to concede the game to the St. Louis Cardinals. [49] According to baseball analyst Jeremiah Graves, "To this day Disco Demolition Night stands in infamy as one of the most ill-advised promotions of all-time, but arguably one of the most successful as 30 years later we're all still talking about it." [33]

Game results

Game 1:

July 12, 1979
day game
Detroit Tigers4–1 Chicago White SoxComiskey Park
Attendance: 47,795
Umpires: HP: Dave Phillips (cc)
1B: Dan Morrison
2B: Dallas Parks
3B: Durwood Merrill
Boxscore

Game 2 forfeited to Detroit, 9–0.

See also

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The Chicago White Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) Central division. The White Sox are owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, and play their home games at Guaranteed Rate Field, located on the city's South Side. They are one of two major league clubs in Chicago; the other is the Chicago Cubs, who are a member of the National League (NL) Central division.

Harry Caray American sportscaster

Harry Caray was an American sportscaster on radio and television. He covered five Major League Baseball teams, beginning with 25 years of calling the games of the St. Louis Cardinals with two of these years also spent calling games for the St. Louis Browns. After a year working for the Oakland Athletics and eleven years with the Chicago White Sox, Caray spent the last sixteen years of his career as the announcer for the Chicago Cubs.

The Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording was an award presented at the 22nd Grammy Awards in 1980. The Grammy Awards, an annual ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, are presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position".

Cubs–White Sox rivalry

The Cubs–White Sox rivalry refers to the Major League Baseball (MLB) geographical rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. The Cubs are a member club of MLB's National League (NL) Central division, and play their home games at Wrigley Field, located on Chicago's North Side. The White Sox are a member club of MLB's American League (AL) Central division, and play their home games at Guaranteed Rate Field, located on Chicago's South Side.

Bill Veeck United States baseball executive

William Louis Veeck Jr., also known as "Sport Shirt", was an American Major League Baseball franchise owner and promoter. Veeck was at various times the owner of the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox. As owner and team president of the Indians in 1947, Veeck signed Larry Doby, thus beginning the integration of the American League, and the following year won a World Series title as Cleveland's owner/president.

Nestor Chylak Recipient of the Purple Heart medal

Nestor George Chylak Jr. was an American umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the American League from 1954 to 1978. He umpired in three ALCS, serving as crew chief in 1969 and 1973. He also called five World Series, serving as the crew chief in 1971 and 1977. He also worked in six All-Star Games: 1957, 1960, 1964, 1973 and 1978, working home pate in the second 1960 game and in 1973.

In rare cases, baseball games are forfeited, usually when a team is no longer able to play. In the event of forfeiture, the score is recorded as 9–0, as stated in rule 2.00 of the Major League Baseball Rules Book. The 9–0 score equates to the number of innings in a regulation game. Actual game statistics are recorded as they stand at the time of the forfeit; the game is recorded as a loss in the standings for the forfeiting team and a win for the other team, even if the forfeiting team is ahead at that point.

Nancy Faust American musician

Nancy Faust is an American former stadium organist for Major League Baseball's Chicago White Sox.

Garry Meier American talk show host

Garry Meier is a Chicago-based radio personality who has been active in Chicago radio since 1973. Meier is well known for being part of the highly successful radio duos "Steve & Garry" and "Roe and Garry", but he also hosted shows on WFYR, WYEN, WLUP, WCKG, WGN and WGN.FM at various times in his career. Meier is also a former feature reporter for WGN-TV's morning show and is a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame. As of March 12, 2016, he has a new show broadcast in Podcast format via his website.

Steve Dahl Shock jock, radio personality, musician

Steven Robert Dahl is an American radio personality and humorist. He is the owner and operator of the Steve Dahl Network, a subscription-based podcasting network.

Ten Cent Beer Night was a promotion held by Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians during a game against the Texas Rangers at Cleveland Stadium on Tuesday, June 4, 1974.

Rosendo "Rusty" Torres Hernández is a former professional baseball outfielder. He played all or part of nine season in Major League Baseball for five different teams. In an odd coincidence, Torres happened to be in the ballpark when forfeits were called in three different games in the 1970s.

The Chicago White Sox are a Major League Baseball team based on the South Side of Chicago. They are one of eight charter members of the American League, having played in Chicago since the inaugural 1901 season. They have won six American League pennants and three World Series titles, most recently in 2005. Despite long periods of mediocrity, the White Sox have among the most unusual, challenging, and celebrated histories of any Major League franchise.

The 1951 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 52 wins, and 102 losses.

The 1991 Chicago White Sox season was the White Sox's 92nd season. They finished with a record 87-75, good enough for 2nd place in the American League West, 8 games behind of the 1st place Minnesota Twins, as the club opened the new Comiskey Park on April 18.

Charles Albert Comiskey II was part-owner of the Chicago White Sox from 1956 to 1961. A native of Chicago, Comiskey was the grandson of the team's founder, Charles Comiskey.

The 1979 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 80th season overall, and their 79th in Major League Baseball. They finished with a record 73-87, good enough for fifth place in the American League West, 15 games behind the first-place California Angels.

The 1979 Major League Baseball season. None of the post-season teams of 1977 or 1978 returned to this year's postseason. In a re-match of the 1971 World Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games in the 1979 World Series.

Harry Mitchell Grabiner was an American professional baseball executive. A 40-year employee of the Chicago White Sox, he served the team's owners—founding president Charles Comiskey, son and successor J. Louis Comiskey, and Lou’s widow, Grace—in a number of capacities, rising from peanut vendor to club secretary, business manager and vice president. He is often listed as the White Sox' first general manager, with a term lasting from as early as 1915 through 1945. After leaving the White Sox after the 1945 season, he joined Bill Veeck’s ownership syndicate and became a vice president and minority stockholder with the Cleveland Indians from 1946 until his death in 1948.

References

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Further reading

Coordinates: 41°49′55″N87°38′02″W / 41.832°N 87.634°W / 41.832; -87.634