Veeck, as in Wreck

I should have been posting about this for years. On this day (12 July 2013), 34 years ago, my coworker friend, Al Broholm, and I left Aurora to head for Comiskey Park to attend a White Sox game with other coworkers. Because it was scheduled to be a double header, we didn’t feel the need to be there for the first pitch as there would be plenty of baseball to see before night’s end.

Reinforced by that thought, we made a small detour to Alsip, another Chicago ’burb to visit a, er, public dispensary which featured, uh, live entertainment. Truthfully, we only lingered there for one drink (and three dancers) and then headed on in to 35th and Shields. We arrived to quite a crowd around the top of the 7th inning.

We hadn’t organized the outing based on the promotional event of the evening—in fact, it was a single game when plans for the outing were first made—the second game was added due to a rainout a couple of months earlier. Outings to Comiskey and Wrigley were done by controllers three or four times per season, and rarely on the spur of the moment. To us, it was just another ballgame(s). The first thing we noticed as we stepped out of the walkways onto the upper deck above 3rd base was how full the place was and that periodically, black discs would go sailing out on the field.

You may have guessed—the promo was “Disco Demolition Night”. Everyone who brought a disco record to the stadium was admitted at a reduced price. As the infamous phrase goes, “what could possibly go wrong?”

I’m not going to recount the whole story, other than we watched the hapless Sox fail to win the first game, saw the records get blown up, watched the crowds stream on to the field, saw a fire started in the outfield, at which point I said to Al, “fire makes people do crazy things,” and we decided to leave. We weren’t alone.

We were on the Dan Ryan when we heard the report on the radio that the second game had been cancelled and we were glad to have left when we did. So, our final score was one trip into the city (with detour), two innings of losing baseball, no drinks–no food, quick retreat, sort of disappointing trip home if viewing a full game was the goal, but glad to have escaped a serious situation.

Yeah, Disco Demolition Night. I was there. Not like the tens of thousands of people who claim to have seen Wilt score 100. I was really there.

Oh, that title? The man in charge of promotions for the Sox, who signed off on the stunt was Mike Veeck, son of legendary owner (and promoter) Bill Veeck whose biography was titled Veeck, as in Wreck. Seemed an appropriate tie-in.

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Last updated: 28 July 2013