The History of Ten Cent Beer Night
Ten Cents For A Cup Of Strohs
On June 4, 1974, the Cleveland Indians had a great promotional idea. Offer their fans 8 ounces of Stroh’s Beer for just 10 cents. The Indians organization believed that the promotion would bring fans out to the stadium in a year where very few cared about the Indians. However, what the Indians did not think about was how many people would partake in this promotion and the consequences that would follow. They did not realize that the fans would wholeheartedly partake in the promotion and drink all the beer they could. They did not realize a riot would ensue. What happened became known as the story of ten cent beer night.
The game was between the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers. A week before the promotion, the teams engaged in a bench clearing brawl after Tom Grieve of the Rangers slid hard into Indians second baseman Jack Brohamer. In the next inning the Indians retaliated when Milt Milcox threw behind Lenny Randle’s head, but missed. Randle then tried to bunt his way on base and when Wilcox tried to field the bunt Randle threw a forearm. Indians first baseman John Ellis punched Randle as he approached first base and both benches emptied.
So the Indians decided that the best time to have ten cent beer night would be six days later when the Rangers visited Municpal Stadium in Cleveland. On June 4, 25,134 fans attended the game, far exceeding the Indians average of 8,000 fans a game.
The game began between the Rangers and the Indians slowly took a backseat to what was happening in the stands. Throughout the game the crowd became increasingly drunk as they took full advantage of the ten cent beer. The Rangers took a 5-1 lead. During the game, drunk fans interrupted the game. A woman ran onto the field and flashed her breasts. A naked man sprinted around second base as Grieve hit a home run. A father and son ran into the outfield and mooned the bleacher section.
When Ferguson Jenkins was hit in the stomach with a line drive hit by Leron Lee, the fans in the stadium chanted “hit him again, hit him again.” As the game wore on more and more fans ran onto the field. Players were pelted with hot dogs and spit on. Ranger Mike Hargrove was almost hit with an empty gallon jug of Thunderbird.
The Game Gets Ugly
Later in the game, Lee slid into third base, cleating Jenkins and forcing him to leave the game. The Rangers argued that Lee should be called out. Indians’ fans did not appreciate the Ranger’s arguments and began throwing objects onto the field.
Despite this, the Indians staged a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning and tied the game at five. However, by this point, the crowd was way beyond drunk. A riot began when a fan tried to steal Ranger’s Outfielder Jeff Burrough’s baseball cap. While confronting the fan, Burrough slipped and fell. Texas Manager Billy Martin thought Burroughs had been attacked and charged onto the field. His players followed right behind him, some wielding baseball bats.
A large number of fans charged the field wielding knives, chains and even parts of their seats to greet the Rangers. Fearing that the Rangers might be in danger, Indians manager Ken Aspromonte ordered his players to grab bats and help the Rangers. Now all the players and many of the fans were fighting on the field. Indians relief pitcher Tom Hilgendorf was injured when he was hit in the head by a flying folding chair.
The players eventually left the field, fearing for their lives. The crowd then turned their anger toward the field and stadium itself. They stole the bases, destroyed the field and tore up the seats and walls around the stadium. The game was finally called and the Indians were forced to forfeit the game. A riot squad from the Cleveland Police Department arrived and restored order.
Despite the incident, the Indians held ten cent beer night three more times that season. However, they did limit the beer to four servings per person.
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