The Chicago White Sox thought they had a great promotion idea by giving fans White Sox rain ponchos to wear in the stands during the July 2 game. Unsurprisingly they were produced in a brilliant white color. The problem only became obvious when fans started putting the things on, giving TV viewers the feeling that the stands were filled with pointy KKK hoods.
The ponchos were welcomed by the fans in the stands, of course, because it was a rainy day, but it sure didn’t make for a desirable visual for Chicago’s South Side team.
This isn’t the first time the Chicago White Sox pulled off a dubious promotion. The Sox are responsible for one of the most disastrous promos in baseball history when a local radio personality named Steve Dahl hosted what he labeled “Disco Demolition” 35-years ago .
As soon as Dahl came onto the field and started blowing up his hated disco records–Dahl and his fans were hard rockers–the fans went crazy and surged onto the field tearing up the grass and putting a halt to game day. The Sox eventually had to forfeit the game to the Detroit Tigers.
This disastrous disco day was okayed by Sox owner Bill Veeck who is also responsible for a dubious stunt in 1951 when he owned the St. Louis Browns. Veeck had a midget jump out of a giant fake birthday cake and then run up to the plate to bat leadoff. Few today would view this exploitation of a little person as a good idea.
But the Sox aren’t the only team that has sponsored some bad promos.
One of the worst came in 1974 when the Cleveland Indians discovered that selling beer at only 10 cents a cup was probably not a good idea. By the ninth inning fans were so drunk that a riot started and spilled out onto the field that put an end to the game. It wasn’t just drunken fans wandering around the field, either. Some fans had knives, chains, bottles, even parts of stadium seating they had ripped out of the concrete and with these weapons attempted to go after the Texas Rangers in their dugout. The Indians ended up with a forfeit to the Rangers that day. Police arrested numerous fans.
Another fiasco was the LA Dodger’s free baseball night in 1995. The Dodgers had to forfeit their August 11 game to the St. Louis Cardinals when drunken fans began throwing the free baseballs onto the field in the ninth inning. It is amazing that sponsors of the promo didn’t see that one coming.
Another promo that ended up littering the field with debris was the 1987 seat cushion day held by the Cardinals. At least this mess occurred at the end of the game when the Cards had won via a tenth-inning grand slam by Tom Herr. Fans were so overjoyed that hundreds of them began throwing their free seat cushions onto the field.
A strange one occurred in 2009 when the Cleveland Indians hosted Victor Martinez bobblehead-doll night the day after they had traded the player to the Boston Red Sox.
Then there was the promo disaster that one might think planners could have seen coming with the 2006 cash-drop day at the West Michigan Whitecaps game. The Whitecaps, a class-A affiliate in Michigan, thought it would be fun to drop $1,000 in cash from a helicopter onto the fans below. The resulting brawl, as fans tried to grab for the money, injured kids and women and even put some in the hospital.
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