Infamous Moments in Baseball History- Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland. June 4, 1974. I missed the 47th anniversary by a day. I was listening to this game on the radio all those years ago.
I am on a few social media forums that discuss 1970’s baseball. One thing I notice has a lot of old farts like me being nostalgic about how great the game was in the 1970’s and how awful it is today.
Three things I do not miss about 1970’s baseball- 1- the cookie cutter stadiums. I can’t call these ballparks- they were stadiums- the atmosphere was sterile in all of them. They were ugly. My home park in the 1970s-2000 was Three Rivers Stadium. A lot of great events happened there- with the Pirates and the Steelers but- the place was an eyesore and as it aged- a dump. It’s been gone now 20 years I don’t miss it one bit. I also attended games in the other cookie cutters- the only one with any character was Busch in St. Louis and that was because of the Cardinal fans. 2- artificial turf- artificial turf was not only hard on the ballplayers but it turned the game of baseball into a kind of pinball. There is nothing wrong with the stolen base but there was far too much emphasis on speed. Of course a team like the Cardinals- under Whitey Herzog used the artificial turf to their advantage building a team of speedsters. Hit the ball on the ground and run. Hit the ball into the gaps and the fast artificial surface will take the ball to the wall. He’s a pinball wizard there has to be a twist… I hated artificial turf and this kind of ball is now gone- good riddance. 3- the point of this post- Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland. Ballparks in the 1970’s- depending of course on where you went-but in most places I believe were not always a place you’d want to take the family. It was rather routine to go to games and see fights break out- in the stands. Every time the Phlliies played at Three Rivers Stadium there would be a number of fights. You’d be watching the game- and nothing on the field is really going on and you’d hear a big roar. I’d then take my binoculars and find the fight. From all I have read Yankee Stadium was a pretty dangerous place in the late 1970’s due to fan behavior. I also recall a lot of stuff going on in the stands- influenced by drink which today you just don’t see- one game my grandfather took me and my cousin to [ the day I met Don Sutton] there was a fan in our section who seemed to know every obscenity – even some that the 12 year old Hans had never heard. There was a good size crowd in our area. I remember a number of adult fans had that look- this has to stop but… and finally my grandfather said something- and the man finally shut up. Major League Baseball in the 1980’s seemed to come to grips with the fan behavior issues. I can’t remember the last ballgame I was at where there was fighting in the stands– or even boorish behavior by drunk fans. It’s a family friendly place now.
Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland- Who thought up this idea? It did draw a crowd. The Indians were the worst run -and the worst franchise in baseball in the 1970’s. Attendance was terrible- the ballpark was an old dump. There was no reason to go to an Indian game. The Indians had a Nickle Beer Night back in 1971. With inflation and all- it was Ten Cent Beer Night in 1974 and it drew over 25,000- on a Tuesday night. They would have been well under 10,000 on a normal Tuesday night. Every drunk in town must have been at the game.
Another reason this was all a bad idea- who the Indians were playing that night- the Texas Rangers- led by manager Billy Martin. While Billy Martin between the lines may have been the greatest manager I’ve ever seen- Billy was even back in that hard drinking ballplayer era- was the most notorious drunk in baseball. When Billy Martin was around things could get out of hand- not that he was drinking that night.
I will let the video below tell the story- but I will add- that in July- after this fiasco- the Indians had another Ten Cent Beer Night- which drew 41,000. They did limit a person to two beer but… it makes me wonder if Major League Baseball had a living, breathing commissioner- how could they have let this promotion go on a second time? Anyway. Here is a video covering Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland.