This Week in Baseball History: Ten Cent Beer Night

June 4, 1974

25,134 fans came to the ballpark on a Tuesday night in early June to watch the Cleveland Indians take on the Texas Rangers. It is possible, however, that most came to take part in the Indians’ ten cent beer promotion, as only 8,101 returned for the second game of the series the following night.

As early as the first inning explosions could be heard from the stands as fans began to light fireworks from their seats.

The early innings of the game were marked by several fans interrupting play. A woman ran to the on deck circle and lifted her shirt, while a naked streaker sprinted and slid into second base during a home run trot. Several other fans began streaking the field at random times during the game.

The crowd’s behavior became worse as the game wore on. In the seventh inning, the Texas bullpen had to be evacuated due to fans throwing smokebombs and empty beer cups at the players.

Shortly after the home team tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, a fan rushed toward Texas right fielder Jeff Burroughs and stole his glove. As Burroughs attempted to recover his glove, the bleachers started to empty onto the field.

Dugouts emptied as players from both teams worked together to fight the crowd off. Several players were hit with bottles and chairs. After umpire Nester Chylak was hit on the head with a folding chair, it seemed obvious that the game would be forfeited to Texas.

Though the boxscore shows a 5-5 final, the official game score was a 9-0 win for the Rangers.

The forfeit was the first in the major leagues since Washington fans forced an early end to the season finale in 1971, the final game before the franchise moved to Texas.

The Indians front office had no plans to cancel the remaining ten cent beer nights, until American League President Lee McPhail stepped in.

“There was no question that beer played a part in the riot,” said McPhail, “America may need a good five cent cigar, but it doesn’t need ten cent beer.”

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5 Responses to This Week in Baseball History: Ten Cent Beer Night

  1. [...] went astray. Considered by some "the worst idea ever," "Ten Cent Beer Night" at Cleveland Municipal Stadium five years earlier ended when "a large number of intoxicated fans – some armed with knives, chains, and [...]

  2. [...] astray. Considered by some “the worst idea ever,” “Ten Cent Beer Night” at Cleveland Municipal Stadium five years earlier ended when “a large number of intoxicated fans – some armed with knives, chains, and [...]

  3. Feet2theFire says:

    I’d just moved from Cleveland to Denver 3 months earlier. So I heard about it only through news of the day.

    The reports I remember at the time said that Burroughs had cold-cocked the guy who TRIED to take his hat. (The guy was reportedly a bit drunk, if you can believe it, and wasn’t quite coordinated enough to take a cap off a professional athlete.) Burroughs was an asshole, anyway. But him punching out the fan is what got everyone riled up. That is the story I got at the time, in Denver. From the TV news and from The Rocky Mountain News.

    I still laugh at the whole thing, but my reconllection has always been, “That jaggoff Burroughs started the riot, and he has gotten off pure as the driven snow.”

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