How did a simple baseball promotion turn into one of the biggest riots in sports history? Disco was to blame.
In the summer of 1979 the Bee Gees were at the top of the charts and the White Sox where in the bottom brackets of baseball. The team was looking for ways to bring more fans to their games, so radio host Steve Dahl proposed that they do a “disco demolition” night, in light of the backlash the genre was receiving.
The team accepted the idea and, on July 12th, they offered tickets to a double-header for 89 cents. Fans were encouraged to bring a disco album and, in between games, the records would be collected and literally blown up on the field.
The team expected around 20,000 fans, but over 50,000 showed up, many of whom were angry and disruptive from the beginning. And, as soon as Dahl blew up the records in between games, a full-blown riot broke out. Thousands of fans stormed the field, and started destroying equipment and burning more albums leftover from the blast. Eventually riot police had to break up the event. The White Sox were unable to play their second game and forced to forfeit their match, which hasn’t happened since in baseball history.
The baseball teams still think up promotions to draw fans to their games today, there hasn’t been anything like the disco demolition riot since.