Friday, June 5, 2009

Let me take you to Funkytown

We are approaching the 30th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night, a zany promotion that was intended to hasten the demise of a fading musical genre but instead nearly destroyed Comiskey Park in Chicago.

What could be more scary in a Major League ballpark than LP records being flung like Frisbees by an unruly mob? Disco records being flung like Frisbees. Nobody wants to be offed by a Village People trajectile.

What Disco Demolition Night couldn't kill was the spirit and perseverance of Minneapolis songwriter/producer Steven Greenberg, who spent years honing his musical skills and self-promoting music that would lead to a No. 1 song the following summer. On this date in 1980, 10 months after the mayhem at Comiskey, "Funkytown'' put disco back on top of the charts for a spirited four-week run.

The Billboard Top 5:
1. Funkytown, Lipps Inc.
2. Call Me, Blondie
3. Coming Up, Paul McCartney
4. Don't Fall in Love With a Dreamer, Kenny Rogers
5. Sexy Eyes, Dr. Hook

With "Funkytown'' disco received another jolt that forestalled its death, and the White Sox -- with no disco promotion to spike attendance -- averaged only 14,819 fans a game and finished with a 70-90 record in genius Tony LaRussa's first full season as skipper.


  1. Why you gotta be dissin' my White Sox?

    I once won a bar bet related to Funkytown. It was only a $1, but the guy who smugly said, "I'll give a dollar to anyone here who can name the artist who sang this song" (Funkytown was playing on satellite radio) was shocked it took me all of 2 seconds to take his money. I only wish he had offered more.

  2. Most baseball historians agree that Tony LaRussa would have led the Chisox to a much better record in 1980 had he been allowed to bat his pitcher eighth.
    His opening day lineup card actually included the pitcher in the No. 8 spot, until umpires informed him that the AL had adopted the designated hitter rule a few years earlier.
    LaRussa then insisted on batting his DH eighth, to "turn the lineup over quicker," but DH Lamar Johnson hit a home run in the bottom of the third, thereby spoiling the brilliant strategy.
    In his Twitter posting later that night, LaRussa bemoaned the "Marxist" baseball officials who devised the DH, and promised to keep his new strategy on hold until the could find a job in the more traditional National League.