This Day In Sports:
Disco Haters Win One For The Tigers

Disco dancers

Lambert/Getty Images

Two survivors of Disco Demolition Night managed to escape Comiskey Park with their Saturday Night best and dancing feet intact.

July 12, 1979: With no stars on the roster and a lackluster team record, Hall of Fame owner Bill Veeck had to find a way to drum up attendance for his ailing Chicago White Sox. The master of the publicity stunt enlisted the help of his son Mike along with local DJ Steve Dahl to unleash one of the most infamous promotions in sports history. Thus Disco Demolition Night was born.

Dahl was a DJ at 98.3 The Loop, best known in the Chicago area for organizing a fan (or rather, anti-fan) movement “dedicated to the eradication and elimination of the dreaded musical disease known as disco.” Like all best laid plans, the promotion was simple: Fans showing up to Comiskey Park for the doubleheader against the Tigers on July 12 with a vinyl disco record (kids, ask your parents) in hand would gain admission for 98 cents. The records would be collected at center field following the first game and on Dahl's command detonated to high musical heaven (or wherever the Macarena went).

The night before the promotion, the White Sox drew about 15,000 fans in a stadium that held 52,000. The next evening was filled to capacity -- with about 40,000 waiting outside the gates. The power of the disco-hating masses had spoken. Many had carried homemade signs emblazoned with the rallying cry, "Disco S***s!" Harry Caray remarked that there were "a lot of funny-looking people in the stadium."

Unfortunately for security, some approximately 10,000 fans managed to infiltrate the stadium using improvised means of entry. “We were confiscating grappling hooks," said Mike Veeck. As most of the "fans" in attendance weren't there to watch baseball, many took to launching their records from the the upper decks. It's a wonder they got the first game underway. After the first game (which Detroit won 4-1, not that most of the "fans" cared), Dahl rode to center field in a jeep dressed as "the supreme commander," complete with military uniform and a Hawaiian shirt. On his signal, technicians threw the switch on a dumpster containing thousands of records. Disco shrapnel flew hundreds of feet into the air. After Dahl made another circuit around the warning track, a mob of unruly teens stormed the diamond. That started a stampede worthy of a World Series win. Soon there were 20,000 crazed disco haters on the field.

More than half an hour had passed before the Chicago Police arrived with back-up. Bill Veeck and Tigers manager Sparky Anderson argued their cases to umpire Dave Phillips about whether to continue with the second game. The ump ruled with Anderson, and the Tigers got the easy W. No game has been forfeited in the American League since.

While Chicago newspapers described the incident as a "riot," none of the 90,000 fans reported any medical injuries. And years later, Mike Veeck apologized to Harry Wayne Casey, lead singer of KC and the Sunshine Band.