Wednesday night's 14-inning snooze-fest at Safeco Field was one of the most uneventful baseball games I've ever witnessed. On the field, most of the action ended in strikeouts, and I can say the same thing about the tepid footlong hotdog that cost seven dollars off the field. Really, seven dollars isn't too much to spend on a stadium treat, which got me to thinking. The good people at Safeco Field could lure swarms of fans back into high ticket seats by doing the same thing that the Cleveland Indians did on June 4, 1974.

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Gaze upon this graveyard.
  • Derek Erdman
  • Gaze upon this graveyard.

Ten Cent Beer Night was a promotion at Cleveland Stadium during a night game with the Texas Rangers. Twelve-ounce cups of beer were sold for ten cents, which is approximately 45 cents today. Most fans who were drinking beer drank so much that there was a bona fide riot in the ninth inning and the Indians eventually had to forfeit the game.

Apparently the two teams had met the week before, and tempers were already high due to a few physical altercations in the previous game. Players elbowed other players. Pitchers threw behind the legs of batters. Runners barreled into basemen with extreme force.

On Ten Cent Beer Night, Cleveland fans became unhappy early when the Rangers took an early 5-1 lead. They were already well on their way to becoming fucking wasted. A woman ran out onto the field to the Indians on-deck circle and flashed her breasts. After a Texas Ranger hit a second home run, a fan took off his clothes and ran to second base. An inning later, a father and son ran into the outfield and mooned all of the fans in the bleachers. People were simply running onto the field and showing their private parts.

Soon, the nudity gave way to real human ugliness. Ranger Mike Hargrove was pelted with hot dogs and covered in spit. Legend has it that he dodged a collision with a bottle of Thunderbird wine, which is probably enough to give anybody a concussion. A controversial call at third base caused fans to begin throwing even more garbage onto the field. Somebody threw a bunch of lit firecrackers into the Rangers bullpen. It was the best game of baseball, ever.

Somehow, in the ninth inning, the Indians managed to tie the score at five. Regardless, fans were simply on the loose at this point. One ran on the field and attempted to steal Texas outfielder Jeff Burroughs' hat. Burroughs confronted the fan and tripped, causing manager Billy Martin to storm the field in anger. A bunch of Texas Rangers followed him. They were carrying bats.

The exceedingly intoxicated fans responded to this in similar fashion by lurching onto the field as well. Many had torn off the bottoms of their seats to use as weapons. Some had knives, some had chains. Why would a person bring a chain to a baseball game? Those were different times, my friend. The fans that weren't on the field threw bottles from their seats.

Indians' manager Ken Aspromonte realized that the Texas Rangers were severely outnumbered in the fight that was about to occur. He ordered the Indians to enter the fight and begin attacking the drunken fans. Rioters threw folding metal chairs. One hit an Indians pitcher in the head. Fistfights happened between fans and players. It was the best game of baseball, ever. Eventually the players helped each other back into the dugouts. The fans were victorious.

As trophies, the bases on the field were stolen and never returned. The ground was littered with an array of garbage and makeshift weapons: cups, rocks, bottles, batteries from radios, hot dogs, popcorn containers, and folding chairs were all over the place. Umpire crew chief Nestor Chylak eventually forfeited the game to the Texas Rangers. He also had his head and hand cut during the fracas. He later called the fans "uncontrollable beasts."

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Ten Cent Beer Night was a rousing success! Let's have one of those!

Photos of this debacle can be found here.

*Most of these fact came from the fascinating Wikipedia page of the event.