Fred Howard

September 22, 2006
“Let there be rock.”
— Bon Scott
July 12, 1979: The sky was raining flat black discs and lit M-80s. By the late innings, the visiting Detroit Tiger outfielders wore batting helmets in the outfield. A vendor reported selling 49 cases of beer that night, more than double the number he’d sold on any single night in his many years on the job. Smoldering bongs were passed from hand to hand up rows like change for a hot dog, giant glossy paper airplanes made of promotional posters featuring a sultry blond model known only as Lorelei swooped and dove amid the hail of explosives and frisbeed LPs and 45s, and inebriated throngs in the parking lot jumped up and down on cars and set fire to white-suited John Travolta dolls and searched for illegal entry into the slightly more focused mayhem inside the packed stadium. As game one of the scheduled doubleheader progressed this search gained urgency, for between games a local 24-year-old disc jockey and the aforementioned Lorelei were going to detonate a mountain of disco records.

Almost immediately after this detonation occurred, a stream and then a gushing wave of longhaired attendees flowed onto the playing field. The desire to get onto the field was strong, as reported by an anonymous contributor to a Disco Demolition Night webpage on whiteseoxinteractive.com:

“One doofus tried to go over the brick wall in centerfield by using our [Disco Sucks banner]. He asked us to hold it, which we did, and he proceeded to plummet 30 feet onto the field. The sign, made of a bed sheet, ripped immediately. I remember seeing him rolling around in pain and remember reading in the paper [the next day] that there were only some minor injuries such as fractured ankles and thought he was one of them.”

The revolution, the pointless, hysterical revolution, had come. Some lit bonfires in the outfield. Some wheeled the batting cage around like it was a stalled car that needed a running start. Some performed hook slides and headfirst Pete Rose plunges into where the bases would have been if they hadn’t already been ripped from the ground and stuffed between giggling ribcages and the fabric of Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith T-Shirts. More than one person reported seeing couples fornicating, one of these reports asserting that this occurred in at least one instance in something of an orderly fashion, the participants feverishly attending to one another in stages corresponding to the general location of the aforementioned bases. Cub scout troupes and the elderly watched from the stands.

Inside the home team’s clubhouse, as his teammates went through the motions of preparing for a second game that they had begun to correctly assume would never be played, Fred Howard, shown here in the only baseball card ever produced in his likeness, tried to wash off whatever residue had accrued during his stint as the losing pitcher of game one. Though he probably didn’t see it this way, he had done his part. As another contributor to the webpage cited above recalled: “The Sox lost the first game to Detroit, which just seemed to aggravate and energize the crowd.” No one seems to remember Fred Howard, or even to ever have been aware of his existence, but the 1970s, that tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing, may not have had its decade-punctuating Woodstock without his heroic failure.



  1. 1.  I believe this is my first comment here (just discovered the blog a few weeks ago, and I am still feverishly tearing through the archives), and I just wanted to comment on the fitting nature of a Fred Howard post being completely devoid of comment activity.

    Of course, I had to come along and ruin it.

  2. 2.  Hey Brotz13,

    Thanks for finally getting the conversation started. Topic for further discussion: Does disco in fact suck?

  3. 3.  Disco as a whole does NOT suck, though like all Pop music you got to sift through the strash to get to the goods. Chic were in fact a great band for awhile.

    I’m kind of sad that the 70s are gone. Events like Disco Demolition Night are unthnkable now..last time I was in NYC to see my beloved Yankees, the security check alone to get in the Stadium made me sick. The atmosphere in the upper deck was dead, and a friend of mine who hit the bleachers said that beer was no longer on sale there…is America really becoming a shopping mall? Have I been gone too long? Why am i typing this into a blog entry 2 years old??

  4. 4.  I decided to visit this post to see the new entry that Josh mentioned. I had to do a website search with the name “Howard” because I had absolutely no recollection of a Fred Howard and had no idea what team to look under. This is despite being an avid baseball fan during this time period. After reading this post I still have no idea who he was. Seems like another Carmen Fanzone to me (not in appearance, but in terms of whether he really existed).

  5. I tend to think we hard rockers have softened over time and look back fondly on disco. While I hated it at the time, i immensely enjoy it now. I am sure part of it is the dearth of autotune music forcing me to look for music i have overlooked in the past. Not unlike Fred Howard! Two first names for a player was always boring to me. This bland card is now of interest…..i had no idea he played in the disco game! I am sure in played in the oversaturated mlb now, he would have had a longer career.

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