As urban areas recover from the riots and looting of 2020, we are reminded that young people got angry at different things 41 years ago.
By the summer of 1979, disco music saturated U.S. radio stations. Everybody was doing disco, from Paul McCartney’s “Goodnight Tonight” to Frankie Avalon’s “Venus.” Frankly, it was probably too much disco!
On this day in 1979, the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers were scheduled to play a double-header at the old Comiskey Park. The Sox desperately needed a promotion, and they got one by joining forces with Chicago DJ Steve Dahl, one of many rock fans who resented how disco threatened rock ‘n’ roll.
The promotion called for fans to blow up disco vinyl 45s and LPs between games.
What could possibly go wrong? Everything did, as we see in this story at Rolling Stone:
The game sold out, but thousands of additional ticketless fans showed up to voice their hatred of an entire genre.
Many stormed the gates and filled the ballpark way beyond capacity, setting up a dangerous situation when Dahl blew up the disco records.
Fans threw firecrackers and bottles onto the field, eventually storming onto it, starting fires and battling with police.
The second game was eventually called off amidst the madness.
For many fans of traditional rock that had little love for disco, the incident was nothing more than a bunch of drunks having harmless fun on a summer evening. Disco had dominated the charts for the past few years, stealing the spotlight from their heroes or causing them to actually record disco music themselves, and this felt justified.
What could wrong? Everything. At least no one demanded tearing down statues of white baseball stars or painted slogans in front of stadium.
In the 1970s, a couple of other teams tried crazy promotions to sell tickets. The Brewers had “10 cent beer” night in 1971 and the Indians in 1974. The one in Milwaukee saw people drunk in the parking lots and the police chief blasting the team management on TV. The one in Cleveland had the visiting Texas Rangers defending themselves with baseball bats against fans who obviously had had too many cheap beers.
No team had promotions like that again. For whatever reason, we got angry at different things back then, and the police were never attacked except by a couple of angry Indians fans in Cleveland who had too many beers. They were not mad at the police, but rather crazy drunk.
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