Top 40 OMG Moments in Recent Chicago History

MOUTH WIDE OPEN: We pick the 40 moments in recent Chicago history that made you stop, blink, and say, “Oh my God!”

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OMG moments in recent Chicago history

To celebrate our magazine’s 40th anniversary this December, we name the 40 best records, restaurants, movies, and more

10. Bartman
October 14, 2003
Eighth inning. Game 6. National League Championship Series. When a fan named Steve Bartman got between Moises Alou and a foul pop to left field, somehow we knew: The glitch unleashed a surreal chain of events that ended in an 8–3 Cubs loss to the Florida Marlins. The next night at Wrigley, fans watched in utter disbelief as the World Series berth went poof. Read more about this OMG moment on our list of top 40 moments in Chicago sports »

9. Dick Mell, Standup Guy
December 2, 1987
In the upheaval following Mayor Harold Washington’s sudden death, the city council convened to elect a successor. During the all-night debate, the war between factions edged toward chaos, captured in a moment when Richard Mell, of the 33rd Ward, stood on his desk, waving his arms and shouting to be recognized by the chair.

8. Olympics 2016! Fail.
October 2, 2009
The T-shirts were made. Millions were spent. POTUS and FLOTUS flew to Copenhagen. Then, with brutal swiftness, Chicago was the first city knocked out of the running to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Oh, well. Check out our coverage of the rally and watch the announcement of the elimination and the crowd’s reaction below:


7. Poop Deck
August 8, 2004
On a Sunday afternoon, one of the buses used by the Dave Matthews Band crossed the river at Kinzie Street and let loose 800 pounds of raw human sewage, which poured through the bridge’s metal grates directly onto a sightseeing tour boat carrying more than 100 passengers. The bus’s driver eventually pleaded guilty; the band was fined $200,000.

6. Wake-up Call
December 9, 2008
At 6:15 a.m. on the day before his 52nd birthday, federal agents arrested Governor Rod Blagojevich at his home in Ravenswood Manor. Accused of pay-to-play politics and trying to make a deal for Barack Obama’s Senate seat, Blagojevich wore a tracksuit to his arraignment. Check out our collection feature stories about Illinois’s former governor and some prominent Chicago figures linked to his case »

5. Blagomania!
In the period between his arrest and trial, the common-sense-defying antics of Rod Blagojevich (and his wife, Patti) never failed to amaze. The highlights: Blago performed as Elvis at a street festival; Patti ate tarantulas on a television reality show; Blago bombed on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice; and, posttrial, he made a peripatetic appearance at a comic-book convention in Chicago and charged $80 for photographs. Check out Blago in our Comic-Con gallery »

4. Disco Madness
July 12, 1979
When Steve Dahl and Garry Meier summoned the masses to destroy their disco records at Comiskey Park, neither DJ foresaw the pandemonium that would follow. An estimated 90,000 people showed up, fans climbed fences and walls to get into the stadium, and when the pile of records was finally blown up, a throng rushed the field. The melee that ensued had to be dispersed by Chicago police.

3. X Marks Meigs
March 31, 2003
In a move that let Chicago see the autocrat behind the bureaucrat, Mayor Richard Daley settled a long-brewing feud over the fate of Meigs Field by shutting it down with flair: Under the cloak of night, he sent in trucks hauling construction equipment to carve six Xs into the tarmac.

2. There Will Be Flood
April 13, 1992
A ruptured tunnel beneath the Chicago River at Kinzie Street crippled the Loop for days as millions of gallons of water flooded subterranean passageways and building basements, including city hall’s. The total cost to repair? More than $30 million.

1. Losing It
April 29, 1983
The epic Lee Elia rant to an audience of four reporters after a Cubs loss to the Dodgers contained 48 f-bombs. An excerpt: “What the — am I supposed to do, go out there and let my —ing players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the —ing nickel-dime people that show up? The mother—ers don’t even work. That’s why they’re out at the —ing game. They oughta go out and get a —ing job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a —ing living. Eighty-five percent of the —ing world is working. The other fifteen come out here.” Elia was fired that August. Listen to the rant below:

Photo gallery



4 years ago
Posted by tribe22

Re: #30, obviously, the Sox wore those shorts more than one if they debuted against KC. The film clip show the Sox in shorts vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

4 years ago
Posted by J.T.

Thanks, Tribe22. We're tracking down the actual number of times the team wore the shorts. Stay tuned.

4 years ago
Posted by TheMikePhillips

Good article. I'd like to see proper credit given to the owner/shooter of the video from the Olympics announcement. The way the article is written, it leads the reader to assume Chicago Magazine shot this video. But looking at YouTube, it does not appear so.
At any rate, I see the media engaged in this practice way too often. I don't see it any different than ripping off a photo for the publication's own gain.
It's true, the video is technically open to the public. However, there are few options, at this point, when it comes to sharing video online. So, people are forced to use YouTube or another "sharable" service. I think video owners should expect to have their videos shared by others but, at the same time, should also expect the courtesy of being credited appropriately.

4 years ago
Posted by Joe Pepitone

Lee Elia's rant still is still 100% true only they can add another 27 years of winning nothing.

4 years ago
Posted by Nelson Fox

Looking for the White Sox winning the World Series, the first baseball championship in this city in nine decades, followed immediately by the largest public gathering in Chicago history, a LaSalle Street parade with 1.75 million people in attendance? Surely you've included it, and I just missed it. What number is it?

4 years ago
Posted by J.T.

Tribe22, according to the White Sox, the team wore the bermuda-shorts uniforms three times during the 1976 season.

4 years ago
Posted by SB Nation Chicago

There were three dates, confirmed
by newspaper accounts (the Chicago Tribune archive) and the YouTube
video you posted.

August 8, 1976 was the first date; they did it again on August 21
(mentioned in newspaper accounts as being done for NBC, which was
carrying the game as its backup Saturday Game of the Week) and the
first game of the doubleheader on August 22. The latter is the
confirmed date of the YouTube video -- it shows a beer-case stacking
contest which was held between games of that doubleheader, which was
shown in a photograph in the Tribune recap of that day's games.

Mystery solved.

4 years ago
Posted by Jules236

You may have mentioned this in the Top40 sports moments, but the Sox winning the World Series has got to be an OMG moment is there ever was one -- it was SO much more than a seminal sports feat, and took in almost all the residents of the city, even (a few) Cubs fans. Didja see how many people were downtown for the parade?

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