Monday, July 21, 2014
Scholars declare we study history to help preserve the past and also to help predict the future. In this case, history almost repeated itself.
Nearly 35 years to the day, Mike Veeck, then in promotions department for the Chicago White Sox – the team that was owned by his Hall of Fame father, Bill Veeck – staged “Disco Demolition Night” at Comiskey Park, a stunt where disco records were exploded between games of a two-night doubleheader against the rival Detroit Tigers.
And as it has been duly documented, the promotion that signaled the unofficial end of the disco era, backfired as a near-riot funneled onto the field causing the second game to be forfeited. The unplayed game remains as the last American League contest to be forfeited. As a result, Mike Veeck was fired as the White Sox director of promotions.
Tonight, the Charleston RiverDogs, the Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, “celebrated” the 35th anniversary of the promotion by exploding the music and memorabilia of pop stars Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus after their 9-7 victory over the Augusta GreenJackets. The explosion took place on the field, and resulted the same way with excited fans wanting to storm the field, but ballpark staff and security preventing any such activity. The event also marked the end of Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus music ever being played over the loudspeakers at a RiverDogs home game again.
Fans that brought the Bieber/Cyrus music and memorabilia to Saturday’s game received admission for only $1. The game was sold out.
This time, however, no second game will be forfeited (the two teams are scheduled to play at 5:05 p.m. Sunday) as security prevented the potential riot. And as a result, RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols announced that this time, team president Mike Veeck will not be fired.
“I’m thrilled that this promotion was able to come and go without anyone losing their job,” said Echols, who was hired by Veeck to be the GM a decade ago. “Of the many outrageous and fun promotions we have had over the years, this one might take the cake.
“Mike’s obviously a creative guy who is the best ever at what he does, but this time he might have outdone himself with the Bill Veeck Bobble-Leg and Disco Demolition Night 2 on the same night,” Echols added.
According to baseball analyst Jeremiah Graves, “To this day ‘Disco Demolition Night’ stands in infamy as one of the most ill-advised promotions of all-time, but arguably one of the most successful as (many) years later we’re all still talking about it.”
This time, “Disco Demolition 2” was deemed a success and Veeck will survive this one.
“One can get into the Hall of Fame by batting .300,” Veeck said. “With my .500 average with ‘Disco Demolitions,’ I still have a chance.”
Three and one-half decades ago, Veeck recalled the inaugural incident by saying, “The second that first guy shimmied down the outfield wall, I knew my life was over!”
The irony to the entire event was that Saturday’s game was also “Bill Veeck Bobble-LEG” giveaway to the first 1,000 fans. Both the head and the wooden leg of the Hall of Fame legend bobble.