Cleveland Indians' Ten Cent Beer Night: The Worst Idea Ever

Giants27Analyst IMarch 22, 2009

On June 4, 1974, the Cleveland Indians held "Ten Cent Beer Night."

The club intended to offer as much eight-ounce Stroh's beer as fans could drink—and for only 10 cents a pop.

Now some background from before the Indians played the Texas Rangers that night.

Six days earlier there was a bench-clearing brawl between the two teams at Arlington Stadium in Texas.

In the fourth inning of that game, Texas player Tom Grieve was walked. Lenny Randle hit a single, and the next batter hit a ground ball to Indians third baseman John Lowenstein, who stepped on third and threw to second, but the play was disrupted by a hard slide from Randle.

Milt Wilcox, the pitcher for Cleveland in the eighth inning, retaliated by throwing the ball behind Randle's head. Randle bunted, and as Wilcox retrieved the ball and tried to tag him, Randle forearmed Wilcox.

Indians first baseman John Ellis then proceeded to punch Randle, resulting in a brawl that featured Texas fans pouring beer on the Indians players.

Okay, now on to "Ten Cent Beer Night."

Early in the game, the Texas Rangers had a 5-1 lead.

Meanwhile, the intoxicated crowd continuously misbehaved.

This included a woman running onto the Indians on deck circle and flashing her breasts and trying to kiss the umpire, and a naked man running onto the field and sliding into second base as Grieve hit his second home run of the game.

Also, a father and son ran into the outfield and mooned the fans in the bleachers.

The ugliness of the game took a turn for the worse when Leron Lee of Cleveland hit a line drive that hit Rangers pitcher Ferguson Jenkins in the stomach, causing him to fall to the ground.

Fans in the upper deck of Municipal Stadium chanted:

"Hit em' again! Hit em' again! Harder! Harder!"

As the game continued, the fans continued to cause problems, including throwing hot dogs and spitting at Texas' Mike Hargrove, and firing fireworks at the Texas dugout.

Hargrove was also almost hit by a gallon jug of Thunderbird.

In the bottom of the ninth, Cleveland tied the game up at five.

However, after nine innings of consuming amazing amounts of alcohol, the situation took a turn for the worse.

In the ninth inning, a fan tried to steal Rangers player Jeff Burroughs's hat, and confronting the fan, Burroughs tripped and fell to the ground.

Texas manager Billy Martin, believing that Burroughs was attacked, charged onto the field with his players right behind him, some wielding bats.

But most of the intoxicated fans had knives, chains, and portions of the stadium's seats that they had ripped off.

Ken Aspromonte, the manager of the Indians, realizing that some of the Rangers' players lives were in danger, told his players to grab bats and help them out.

Rioters then began throwing folding chairs, one of which hit Cleveland reliever Tom Hilgendorf in the head.

Hargrove was involved in a fist fight with a fan, and had to fight another one when making his way back to the Rangers dugout.

Among those involved was Rusty Torres, who was on second base at the time of the riot, and was the winning run.

Torres already had brawl experience, having been in the brawl during the Yankees-Senators game, which was the Senators last in Washington.

The bases were stolen and never returned, and rioters pelted the players with cups, rocks, bottles, hot dogs, radio batteries, popcorn containers, and the folding chairs.

Joe Tait and Herb Score, who called the game on Indians radio, noted the lack of police protection, and a riot squad eventually showed up and ended the brawl.

Umpire Nestor Chylak called the game a forfeit in favor of Texas.

Chylak himself had been cut in the head with a stadium seat, and also suffered a cut in his hand from a flying rock.

Lee McPhail, the American League president said of the game, "There was no question that beer played a part in the riot".

The Indians, who had scheduled three more of these beer nights, changed it from unlimited beer to four beers per person for the rest of the promotions.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.