36 years later, we remember Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park
By John Dorn
It was a night that brought one of the most destructive revolutions in professional sports history, but one that has been largely forgotten as the decades have blown by. July 12, 1979 -- Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in Chicago -- rests in baseball and music lore forever.
Near the height of the disco movement sweeping the nation, Chicago rock DJ Steve Dahl took it upon himself to literally demolish the genre for good. In between games of a day-night double header between the White Sox and Detroit Tigers, Chicago ownership allowed Dahl to take the field for a stunt that the team would soon regret.
Admittance was just 98 cents that day if fans brought a disco record to the games -- ones that would be tossed into a giant box to be demolished in center field after Game 1. Average attendance of around 15,000 skyrocketed to about 50,000, including thousands more who snuck in simply to take part in the destruction. The Sox were undoubtedly thrilled with the turnout, but little did they know the fans would be doing most of the destruction that evening.
After Dahl took the field to blow up the records -- as players began warming up for Game 2 -- a handful of fans stormed the field to cause some extra ruckus. When it was apparent that no police or security was stopping them, it was a matter of minutes before Comiskey Park's field was swarmed with thousands of reckless disco-haters.
Bases were torn out of the ground, the outfield grass was set to flames. Rioters refused to leave the field after constant pleads from game announcers, and Chicago was forced to forfeit the game as a result.
A total of 39 arrests were reported as well as several minor injuries. Disco music and culture, as it was known in the 1970s, was effectively dead a short time later. There have been several links to homophobia and racism as true motives for the demolition, which makes the destructive event all the more troubling.
It was likely the most ill-fated promotion in sports history, and one we're still talking about decades later.
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