A Tale of Two Events: '87 All-Star Game and the Disco Demolition

There are some neat things that are on television when you get the opportunity to sit on the couch and watch. As I have a six-week-old son that doesn’t have the physical skills to play catch quite yet, we spend a lot of time on the couch as I feed and hold him.

That brings me to two sporting events I got to relive. Well, I think I saw one of them, and the other took place when I was 2 years old. I watched a replay of the 1987 All-Star Game on the MLB Network and the 1979 Disco Demolition debacle on ESPN. Talk about contrasting events.

One of the first things that struck me in watching the All-Star Game festivities was that it was 22 years ago. After all, there were all the players I grew up watching: George Brett, Eric Davis, Dave Winfield, Brett Saberhagen, Jack Clark, etc. This was the game modeled for the All-Star lineups in the 1987 Nintendo game R.B.I. that I still play to this day. It didn’t seem that long ago, and I guess in a hobby that some don’t even consider worthwhile until it’s before 1970, I guess it isn’t that long ago.

However, there were a few oddities that I had forgotten about. First, it was played  in daylight, like blazing sun, 4 p.m. daylight. Sure, it was on the West Coast, but that’s still 7 p.m. Eastern time. You mean kids could actually watch their heroes before going to bed? 

The second observation was that the power hitters, such as the aforementioned Clark, Davis and Andre Dawson, were surprisingly skinny. Sure, they were muscular, but nothing like you see today.

And then there was a skills competition that I had never seen before. This wasn’t just the home run derby, but rather there was also a pitching and hitting contest where the players had to pitch to certain targets or batters had to hit targets placed out in the field. No surprise, Wade Boggs won the batting portion of the contest.

And in case you wondered, this was an All-Star game that was scoreless for 12 innings, with the National squad scoring two in the top of the 13th inning and winning 2-0.

Baseball did this with 28-man rosters and didn’t run out of pitching. In fact, the American League even had two pitchers who never saw the mound. Didn’t Commissioner Selig watch this game? The 2002 All-star Game fiasco was called after 11 innings.

I had heard about Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979, at Comiskey Park during a doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers – I just never knew what a riot, almost literally, it was.

I figured the event was all about blowing up records and a few fans ran onto the field and disrupted the game. Ha! Holy cow, so that’s what happens when 90,000 people cram into a stadium, drink heavily and turn their hatred of disco music into an excuse of all-out party rivaled (for a very short period of time) only by Woodstock. Fires, fights and any number of other transgressions taking place on the field. And they still tried to play the game.

Outstanding comedy for me on the couch, although baseball probably didn’t enjoy the attention, no matter the era in which it took place.

I don’t think this could happen today. First, you can’t sneak into stadiums like you could then. No team will let you in for just 98 cents and you can’t toss a peanut onto the field, much less toss your entire body over the fence.

Did any readers attend this, ahem, historic event? I’d love to hear a first-hand account of the demolition. After all, this event was considered the catalyst to the end of the disco era, and a baseball game was the stage for it. No wonder baseball is America’s pastime.

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