Archive for Friday, July 13, 2001

Disco demolition promoter apologizes

July 13, 2001

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— More than two decades after baseball's biggest marketing blunder, promoter Mike Veeck apologized Thursday night for the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Chicago's Comiskey Park.

Veeck, now a marketing consultant for the Florida Marlins, asked Harry Wayne Casey, better known as KC of KC and the Sunshine Band, to accept his apology on behalf of the entire disco world.

"I want to make it right," Veeck said in a brief ceremony before Florida's game against the Yankees. "I want to tell you right from the bottom of my leisure suit that I'm sorry."

Veeck's statement coming exactly 22 years after the original Disco Demolition Night was shown on the stadium's big screen and was part of the Marlins' Salute to Disco Night, in which they asked fans to dress up in disco-era attire.

Veeck's 1979 promotion had much different results. After hearing that a local radio station was blowing up disco records and drawing large crowds to watch, Veeck decided to do the same between games of a White Sox doubleheader.

Veeck held a meeting at the stadium the morning of July 12, letting security and management know they would need to be prepared for 35,000 fans.

About 80,000 showed up, 60,000 inside the park and another 20,000 outside. Between games, Veeck's crew blew up thousands of disco records in a Dumpster and used fireworks for added effect.

"It was great until 10,000 people ran on the field and we had to forfeit the game," Veeck said.

The game was just the fourth forfeit in major league baseball history.

"After that, I didn't work for 10 years in baseball," Veeck said. "It backfired, and I took the heat. And it cost me personally. I went down the sewer. KC wasn't the only one whose gravy train stopped. I didn't work in baseball until 1989."

The promotion was criticized throughout the disco community.

"It wasn't a very nice thing to do," Casey said. "There was no reason or call for it. It was a direct hit on myself and other artists who did that for a living. I didn't bash his baseball team."

Nonetheless, Casey accepted Veeck's apology even 22 years later.

"I'm happy he's finally apologizing for it," Casey said. "I feel redeemed. It gives closure to the whole thing."

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