With attendance at sporting events dropping faster than a pass thrown to Braylon Edwards, many teams are turning to running various promotions as an innocent way of getting more fans to attend a game against a crappy opponent, or to put seats in the stands for a team that isn't playing so well. Like the New Jersey Nets "Resume Night". Unemployed? Still want to watch us lose?! Give us your resume, we'll give you a ticket! Or the various teams that have offered their obese fans an economical way to gorge on hot dogs AND cheer on their favorite teams with all you can eat seat nights.
Sometimes though, said promotions go horribly, horribly wrong.
Honestly, the brains behind some of these schemes were a few beers short of a six pack. A quick look at some of the more infamous promotions gone awry will show that they clearly had "bad idea" written all over them from the start. I mean, did anyone really expect events involving explosives or 10 cent beer to end well?
September 26, 1942.
Scrap Metal Night.
Yes, you read that right. Hello sports fans. Hate when things don't go the right way for your team? US TOO! That’s why tonight, we're having 'Bring Your Own Weapon' Night. Oh wait, we can't run that promotion? Ok, hmm, isn't there a war or something going on? Yea, yea, that’s a good idea. Let's let kids in free if they bring us shiny sharp pieces of metal. Cue 8th inning. Picture riotous youth storming the field and the players running for cover and squealing like little girls. Brilliant!
July 12, 1979
Disco Demolition Night.
I can just see someone sitting around making a list. Likes: Baseball, Explosives. Dislikes: Disco. Hmm, how can I combine all of these things into one stellar evening? How about let fans into the Comiskey Park for 98 cents and a disco record, all of which we will BLOW UP WITH A BOMB in between a double header. Apparently close to 90,000 people thought that this was indeed an awesome idea and showed up to a stadium with a capacity of roughly 50,000 and quickly began downing copious amounts of beer and per some reports "illegal drugs". "Woah… man… these records look like Frisbees”. I'm sure it's not easy to keep your team alive when you're being pelted in the head by "Stayin' alive" Shockingly, setting a bomb off in a stadium full of drunk, high, anti-disco fans somehow back fired. They some how managed to blow a huge hole in the outfield, inciting a riot, complete with field storming and fire-starting. (If you can't picture this in your mind, check out some great old-school pictures)
August 10, 1995
Dodgers' fans have balls!
I'm sure you've all been at a game where someone on the opposing team hits a home run and the entire stadium starts chanting "throw it back, throw it back". Now imagine all of these people suddenly realize they have all been armed with promotional baseballs upon entering the stadium. If you were an umpire in this game, would you start making questionable calls against the home team and ejecting players from the game? Or if you did, would you be surprised when the crowd started to make it rain? (And not in a way that someone who is "dancing her way through school" profits from). Yea didn't think so.
And last but not least, the biggest disaster of them all.
June 4, 1974
10 Cent Beer Night.
I really can't even do this night justice. There was an article about it on ESPN'S Page 2 this summer. Upon reading it I didn't know if I should be embarrassed or proud that this happened in Cleveland. Or that if it made me a horrible person that the article had me in tears I was laughing so hard at the absurdity of it. It was the 70s. People were drunk. And high. And for some reason came to the game armed with firecrackers. At one point, they were allowing fans to line up and get beer directly from the beer trucks. The drunken debauchery started innocently enough with a handful of streakers. But as the game progressed, and the fans got drunker, things got uglier. The end result was both dugouts emptying out and a full out riot. A quote from one of the crew chiefs (after a freaking hunting knife landed behind him) kind of sums up the whole thing: "F------ animals! You just can't pull back a pack of animals. When uncontrolled beasts are out there, you gotta do something. I saw two guys with knives, and I got hit with a chair."
Hopefully we can learn from these past mistakes and teams think twice before scheduling things like hypodermic needle night or "Hedge Fund Appreciation Night" on the same night as the mini bat give-a-way. Then again, it would make for a nice follow up post.