clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Happy 45th Anniversary, 10 Cent Beer Night!

45 years ago today the worst ballpark promotion ever ended in anarchy

Getty Images

How do we properly contextualize just how insane 10 Cent Beer Night was?

To start with, read the box score:

“INDIANS 9TH [...] 10-cent Beer Night promotion; fans erupted from the stands at this point and charged Rangers RF Jeff Burroughs; both benches cleared in support; fans had continually disrupted the game by running onto the field and throwing firecrackers into the dugouts; game forfeited to the Rangers; 2 R, 4 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Rangers 5, Indians 5.”

The game might have continued even after both teams ventured into the fray, wielding bats. Unfortunately, all three bases were missing once the riot cleared. This marks the only time in baseball history that the fans recorded more stolen bases than the players.

The Indians had visited the Rangers earlier in the season during their own ten cent beer night promotion (it is crazy to me that this used to be a common promotion). Tribe players endured heckling while being pelted with beer and food. Some in the media worried that Indians fans might retaliate; Rangers manager Billy Martin responded to these concerns by stating that Cleveland didn’t have enough fans for anyone to be worried about.

Dan Coughlin of the Plain Dealer said, “Sports radio host Pete Franklin spent an entire week on the radio whipping Cleveland fans into a frenzy over the Billy Martin insult. The place was full of college kids home from school for the summer. A lot of people showed up already drunk before the game even started.”

25,134 entered Cleveland Stadium on the night of the 4th. The crowd proved rowdy immediately:

  • A woman attempted to kiss home plate umpire Nestor Chylak.
  • A second woman flashed the crowd from the on-deck circle.
  • A father and son deepened their familial bonds by mooning the players together.
  • Nineteen (plus or minus four) streakers bolted across the outfield, ignoring Herb Score’s plea to stop interrupting the game.

Despite rampant nudity, it took a fully-clothed fan to burst the night at the seams. He attempted to steal Jeff Burrough’s hat. Burroughs kicked at the fan but missed, falling to the ground. Thinking that the fan assaulted Burroughs, Martin and the Rangers cleared the dugout.

This is when the fans rushed the field.

Eleven fans were arrested, and seven were sent to the emergency room. At least one player and umpire were hit by steel folding chairs. The players fought through the crowd back to the clubhouse, after which the crowd began to depart, bases in tow.

The Indians refrained from holding another ten-cent beer night ... until July 18th. Perhaps not coincidentally, Dick Bosman spoiled his own bid for a perfect game on the 19th by committing a throwing error.

For further reading on this legendary night in Tribe history, see the following:

I’m not sure that this is an event worth celebrating, but it is certainly worth remembering.