The Night Disco Died - July 12, 1979

I was a mere lad of 16 back in the summer of 1979, rockin' out to Cheap Trick's "At Budokan" live album and enjoying another summer of White Sox baseball. Going into a scheduled doubleheader with the Tigers on July 12, the Sox were struggling at 40-46, despite a somewhat talented roster that included pitchers Ken Kravec, Steve Trout, Ross Baumgarten, Richard Dotson (Dotson Saves!), and current radio voice of the Sox, Ed Farmer; infielders Alan Bannister, Greg Pryor, Lamar Johnson, Mike Squires, and even Don Kessinger in limited service. And who can forget the wee one, Harry Chappas. The outfielders included Claudell Washington, Chet "The Jet" Lemon, Ralph Garr, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the one and only, Rusty Kuntz. Catching duties were split between Milt May and Bill Nohorodny, and last but not least, Jorge Orta had most of the DH-ing duties. Times were quite a bit tougher in those days, as there were only two divisions and you had the pleasure of playing every AL team 12 or 13 times per season.

While I didn't have the pleasure of attending the games in person, I do recall watching game 1 on our family's "spare" black and white TV (only dad had ultimate control over the color TV, and he's a Cubs fan). I was especially excited about watching the double header because WLUP radio personality and fellow disco hater (and current Scout Seats owner), Steve Dahl, was going to blow up a gigantic crate of disco records in centerfield between games as part of a "Disco Demolition" promotion.

The anti-disco rally promotion was the brainchild of Mike Veeck, son of owner Bill Veeck. The concept was simple - pay .98 (in reference to WLUP's frequency - 97.9 FM) and bring a disco record, and you're in! What was suppose to draw an extra 5,000 fans to the stadium ended up in chaos and mayhem, when an estimated 75,000 people descended upon Comiskey I. Once the records blew, so did any sense of decent public behavior as a mob of boozed and buzzed youngsters took over the field, ripping up the turf, starting fires and acting in what most of the true baseball community would consider unconscionable. The damage to the field rendered it unplayable and the Sox were forced to forfeit game 2.

Being the rather conservative, old school guy that he is - at least that's the way he conveys himself on radio broadcasts - I'm surprised a 29-year old Ed Farmer didn't jump in there and take down a couple of those "long hairs" who were wrecking the park.

Anyway, there are others who can paint the picture better than I (see links below) and apparently the Sox aren't going to acknowledge it - although Dahl owns the rights to the name "Disco Demolition," which might have something to do with it - so I just wanted to give a shout out to the 30th anniversary of Disco I rekindle my own great memories of all the sights and smells of the old park.

More info on Disco Demolition:

Steve Dahl's site

Mike Veeck interview

Wiki article

Chicago Tribune photos

Meet your 1979 White Sox (afterwards, you will kiss the feet of Kenny Williams next time you see him)

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