If you were lucky enough to be alive in 1974 and even luckier to live in Cleveland you would have heard about possibly the funniest and bloodiest baseball game in Major League Baseball history.
It all started with a brilliant idea to attract more fans to the dwindling numbers that the Indians had been getting in attendance. That idea was to make each beer 10 cents.
Yes, a 12oz beer was 10 cents.
Sadly, you were only limited to six beers per trip…not total..just six beers per trip to the concessions stand. The promotion worked drawing in over 25,000 people to the stadium more than half anticipated and sadly, only selling a small number of beers. That small number was roughly 65,000 beers. Now, that 65,000 was the number of beers sold. For awhile in the later innings, the concessions stand was so overwhelmed with customers they simply walked away. So the real number of beers consumed is unfortunately unknown.
So for those of us that were unlucky and not born at the time of the game here is how the game went down. Before the hotdog pegging of Rangers first baseman Mike Hargrove, was when the first person to streak and also moon the players happened. But don’t worry there were 13 more events like this to happen. This was also to happen all within the first few innings while fans were still finding their seat. The major event that spawned the riot was in inning nine while the game was tied. This was when a young fan ran onto the field and tried to take the cap of Rangers outfielder Jeff Burrough. This is when the game took a violent turn. During this event, Burrough ended up tripping and the rest of the Rangers bench thought he had been attacked by the fan.
So what did the Rangers do?
They stormed the field to back up their teammate. When they stormed the field they were not empty-handed. Some of the Rangers players had bats and some had personal items that they could use to resolve the situation in the only way Texans know how to.
Ground and pound.
So what did the Indians fans do?
Well, what do you think?
They also stormed the field while being heavily intoxicated armed with souvenir bats, chains, knives and firecrackers. Yes, firecrackers. The same ones that they had been shooting at the Rangers all night long. This led to one of the craziest turns of events in professional sports. Both the Indians and the Rangers turned on the fans. All 200 or so of them that stormed the field. Both teams had finally had enough of the intoxicated fans shooting fireworks and causing game delays with exposed genitalia and decided to end it once and for all. The fans also proceeded to pull off all the bases in between fistfights and eventually Cleveland SWAT was called in to diffuse the situation.
Sadly, both teams retreated back to their individual dugouts and the game was forfeited and called for the Rangers. Cleveland may have lost the game on paper even with the score tied, but it was a win for the City of Cleveland. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even a thought in my parents’ head back in 1974, but I would have loved to be there. Imagine, 200 fans storming the field while the organ player kept playing Take Me Out To The Ball Game the whole time while you had a firecracker in one hand and a beer in the other. For a city that had hundreds of factories leave a few years earlier and with unemployment sky-high, I think it was a win for the city that desperately needed a win. The real winners on June 4, 1974, were the fans. This may have been a loss for the Tribe, but it was a win for the city.
46 years later and the bases have never been returned.