In 1974 the Cleveland Indians were struggling on the field and to get fans in the seats, what a surprise, right? For those of you who remember Municipal Stadium, it was not petite by any means. With profits slumping, The Tribe came up with the great idea of 10-cent beer night. Also, the organization and vendors of the ballpark decided that there should be no restriction on the amount of 10-ounce beers one person could purchase. Prolific!
As the game with the Texas Rangers began so did the trouble in the stands. During the first inning fans were lighting fireworks and smoke bombs. If you were a spectator you may have thought it was firework night at the ballpark due to the consistent explosions heard throughout the evening.
During the second inning a topless woman who was identified as “somewhat large” rumbled and stumbled her way onto the field. The drunken heffer was hunting for some D as she chased around an umpire, unsuccessfully obtaining a kiss from Nestor Chylak.
Things did not stop there. Two innings later, after a Rangers home run, a streaker entered the base path and slid into second base. He must have been torn up in so many ways.
A father and son greeted Mike Hargrove, the American League’s Rookie of the Year during his first at bat by bending over in the infield and exposing their butt cheeks. The fireworks continued in the sixth inning when Cleveland fans began to throw firecrackers at the Texas Rangers pitchers warming up in the bullpen.
Jeff Burroughs, Rangers right fielder, was no longer able to concentrate in the field due to the unrelenting flow of angry Cleveland fans that wandered onto the field. Whether the fans wanted to talk to him, yell at him or shake his hand the number of fans wandering through the outfield was more than the stadiums security was capable of handling.
As the sloppy got sloppier, the crowd began to pelt the backs of Rangers players with everything from batteries to Municipal Stadium seating. Mike Hargrove, who would later play for and eventually manage the Indians, stated, “I remember getting spat on a lot and having a lot of hot dogs thrown at me. Somebody threw a gallon jug of Thunderbird wine at me.”
After all of this, the Indians faced a 5-3 deficit entering the bottom of the ninth, they managed to tie the score up and had the winning run on second base. At that point, an Indians fan ran onto the field and knocked the cap off of Jeff Burroughs head. Burroughs began to chase the fan which forced play to stop. This caused Rangers players, and manger to rush onto the field armed with their Louisville sluggers, to help their teammate. At the same time, fans began to pour into right field. Fans brought glass bottles, broken chairs, metal chains and even knives as weapons.
Due to the melee the umpire decided to give the game to the Rangers, thus ending the Tribe’s comeback and the rare opportunity for a win by the Indians. The umpires didn’t have much of an option. All the bats were broken, the baselines were gone and someone literally had stolen the bases. If this game hadn’t been called by the umpires than Cleveland may have seen it’s first Natural Disaster, not to be mistaken with their annual man made disaster.
All in all, nine people were arrested and seven were sent to the hospital but not until 65,000 cups of beer had been consumed. This game is remembered as the worst example of drunken debauchery in baseball history.
Oddly enough though, after the riot the Cleveland Indians organization made no plans to put a stop to the two other Ten Cent Beer Nights scheduled for the season. The June 4 promotion turned out to be quite popular, drawing 25,134 people, more than double the average of Cleveland’s crowd that season. However, the league forced the Indians organization to cancel those promotions, pointing out the obvious in stating, “There was no question that beer played a great part in the affair.”