My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
Minor league baseball has always had gimmicks to attract fans. From Crash Davis’ lovable Durham Bulls, to our own St. Paul Saints, there can be an attraction every half inning. I once won a pizza dough throwing contest at a Saints game for which I was awarded a free pizza. Who can forget the “Bobble foot” giveaway satirizing the antics of an Idaho Senator at our MSP airport. The Coleman/Franken bobblehead this year was a winner at Midway Stadium as fans lined up 12 hours before game time. The perpetrator of many of these activities is none other than Saints’ principal owner and president, Mike Veeck. His surname is pronounced “Vick”, but so far there has not been a pit bull clash during the 7th inning stretch.
Mike inherited his imagination from his father Bill who owned our new president’s favorite team, the White Sox of Chicago. The major leagues were more placid, expecting to sell tickets to quality baseball, without the slapstick. Bill, along with Charlie Finley of the A’s were considered non conformists. Charlie had a rabbit come out of the ground to replenish the umpire’s supply of baseballs, and Bill was the first to explode fireworks after a home team home run. So in July of 1979, in hopes of drawing fans, Bill staged the first and only Disco Demolition night at Comiskey Park. It was a double header against the Tigers and fans who brought a disco vinyl disc to the game were admitted for 98 cents. The disco recordings were placed in a crate in centerfield, to be blown up between games. The stadium sold out, and thousands of fans were outside the gates with their records. Eventually they stormed the gate and began sailing the discs like Frisbees onto the field. Some even brought golf balls on which they had written “disco sucks”, and tossed them at Tiger center fielder Ron LeFlore. Between games, Veeck kept his promise and blew up the crate of disco records, but it wasn’t enough for some of the crowd, as they stormed the field lighting fires, starting fights, and doing all the naughty things that fans aren’t supposed to do. Our Minnesota Twin, Disco Dan Ford, was lucky the Twins weren’t playing there that night. Who knows what might have happened. Anyway, the field was a mess, the second game of the doubleheader was cancelled, and later the American League office ruled it a forfeit by Chicago for not providing a suitable venue for the game. Needless to say, Bill Veeck never had another demolition night at Comiskey. But, as they say in baseball, records are made to be broken.
So what does all of this have to do with bowling. Well, nothing I suppose. But I was thinking….. Maybe a progressive proprietor might have a “Rap Revolution” at the local bowling center. Bowlers could bring in their IPODs and MP-3 players, and while they are bowling for 98 cents per game, Mr. Administrator, mnbowling’s own triple H, (Happy, HiTech Hutch), could be on hand to erase and eliminate all rap music from the devices. But please leave the “Rap Sucks” golf balls at home. Just a thought.