This Day in Baseball History: June 4th, 1974

I had a hard time controlling my laughter while reading about this, but this wasn’t anything but funny when it happened.

On June 4, 1974:

Ten Cent Beer Night!

The Cleveland Indians of 1974 were not good. In fact, they were so bad that the fans did not show up to games, leading to not making any money. Looking for a way to drive up attendance, the Indians asked themselves whether or not a night based around 10 cent beer was a good idea. Well, a week before in a game in Texas in which Cleveland played, the Rangers tried the same thing. After a hard slide into second, a few hit batters, and several cups thrown at Indians players, the benches erupted into a brawl, and for good measure, some fans found their way onto the field as well. Hmm, this is probably not going to end well.

The Indians decided to go ahead with the promotion because, let’s face it, they were desperate. Each beer, 8 ounces, would be ten cents. You could only get 6 at a time, but you could come back for more later for an unlimited number of times. By the time the game started, most of the crowd would probably be drunk (from the beer at the game or some “pre-gaming”). From the first inning, firecrackers were set off in the stands. In the second inning, a woman came on to the field, flashed the crowd, and tried to kiss the umpires (unsuccessfully). Two innings later, a man streaked on the field. An inning later, two guys jumped the outfield walls and mooned the Ranger outfielders. As the game continued, more inebriated fans would make their way onto the field in a game that was more of a farce. Unable to get the beer to the concessions fast enough, the Indians actually allowed fans to get it fresh from the trucks. Firecrackers were thrown into the Ranger bullpen. Mike Hargrove, Ranger first baseman and future Cleveland manager, was almost hit by a wine bottle.

That’s just the small stuff. In the ninth inning of a 5-3 game, the Indians made a comeback. A fan came out of the stands trying to steal Jeff Burroughs’ hat. Burroughs tripped trying to confront the man. Ranger manager Billy Martin, understandably unnerved by this point, led his players on the field … with bats. The fans, in response, came out of the stands with all sorts of things — chains, knives, and chairs for example. The Rangers were outnumbered by more, irrational, and drunk people. The Indians, putting away the bad blood, came charging out to rescue the Rangers. Tom Hilgendorf was hit on the head with a chair, but the players were fighting back. Seeing angry athletes, something clicked in the crowd, and they started to move away. Both managers saw their opportunity. The players were ordered to leave the field, and they did quickly.

The game was a forfeit (win given to the Rangers) and probably the most infamous incident of poor planning and fan behavior. When I go to games (and I’m off to the Reds-Cardinals game tomorrow), I often hear people complain about only being able to buy 2 beers and that sales end after the 7th inning. Folks, this is why. You can’t be trusted to take care of yourself and act responsibly. This is why there are rules — to save you and the players.

Trivia Time
How much would that 10 cent beer cost today, considering inflation?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Originally suspended 8 games, he would only have to serve 7.


3 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: June 4th, 1974”

  1. Dan Says:

    That's a bad-ass photo.

    With inflation, I'm saying 10 cents would be $.95. Didn't look it up this time!

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    Must have been freaky to be there. And the guy in the middle looks like Jim Belushi.

    And not quite that high. And I don't care if you look it up. 🙂

  3. Ron Rollins Says:

    I believe that is Jeff Burroughs, the RF'er that night.

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