Hit & Run

The Day the '70s Died


Today is the 25th anniversary of Disco's Altamont, the "Disco Demolition Night" at Chicago's Comiskey Park, where the South-siders took out their frustrations at having yet another crappy baseball team by unleashing an orgy of anti-Donna Summer violence, forcing the cancellation of the second half of a double-header. MSNBC's look back is a window into a lost world:

"It was just a bad atmosphere," [former White Sox manager Don] Kessinger recalled. "Even the aroma in the ballpark was a bit different."

Late in the first game, records started flying from the stands. Fans got into the ballpark for 98 cents if they brought a record. Obviously, not all the albums were handed over at the gate.

"Some of them were just knifing in the grass and others were exploding on the infield," former White Sox second baseman Alan Bannister said.

Dahl said people threw beers and cherry bombs at him "lovingly," as he demolished records following the Sox' 4-1 loss in the first game.

At some point, thousands of people began to rush the field.

People started fires, burned records and knocked over the batting cage. Others played imaginary baseball. They ignored the pleas of then-White Sox announcer Harry Caray to stop.

"It was like nothing you ever saw," said Blair Libby, then a 17-year-old Dahl fan watching from the upper deck.

"Bottle rockets, M-80s, all sorts of (stuff) whizzing over your heads."

People who didn't have tickets scaled the walls to get in.

"It looked like medieval times when they go after a castle, pouring over a wall," Ron Battaglin said.

He still remembers the sharp pain in his head, "like someone dropping an ax on me" ? a record had struck him, leaving a two-inch gash.

Rich Battaglin couldn't believe what was happening.

"Donna Summer, like her or hate her, you don't put M-80s on her albums and throw them at people," he said.

Click here for pictures. My feelings about this watershed moment are mixed -- on one hand I still feel bad that great acts like the Bee Gees had their careers knee-capped by the Backlash, but on the other it allowed me to build up a fantastic vinyl collection, one quarter at a time.