37 Years Ago: “Ten Cent Beer Night” – The Greatest MLB Promotion Ever

Ten cent beer night. June 4th, 1974. It was 37 years ago today was one of the greatest promotion in the history of Major League Baseball. The Rangers were awful, and Indians were even worse. Nobody was coming to the games, so they decided that 10 cent beers would get bodies in the seats. They were right. I wasn’t even born yet, and the legendary stories I’ve heard from this night never get old. Our friends over at Homage are having a little special of their own to honor this historic night that ended in riots. You can head over to their site to buy your own commemorative 10 cent beer night cup for only 10 cents. You can also get this t-shirt.

These guys are located in Ohio, but we won’t hold that against them, as they also have some amazing non-Ohio tshirts, like The San Diego Chicken.

Back to 10 cent beer night. An insane night. Players, fans, and umpires brawling like you’ve never seen or heard of before. We’re talking knives and nunchucks. Not even kidding. No need to reinvent the wheel, so here’s a synopsis of the night.

  • Pre-game: Fans were setting off fireworks from their seats. Texas manager Billy Martin delivered his line-up to the umpire and was booed. In reply, he tipped his cap and blew kisses to the crowd.
  • Inning 1: Several smoke bombs went off in the stands.
  • Inning 2: A large woman jumped down from the fans into the Indians’ on-deck circle, lifted her shirt, and tried to kiss the umpire, Nestor Chylak.
  • Inning 4: A Ranger outfielder hit his second home run of the game, but as he circled the bases, a naked man from the stands ran onto the field and slid into second base.
  • Inning 5: Father and son jumped into the infield and mooned the crowd.
  • Inning 6: Fireworks were shooting toward the Texas dugout. Cleveland fans were hurling anything and everything down onto the field: beer cups, golf balls, rocks, batteries, etc.
  • Inning 7: Rangers pitchers retreated from the bullpen and stayed in the dugout.
  • Innings 7 and 8: Fans regularly jumped down into right field where Ranger player and American League MVP Jeff Burroughs was stationed. They wanted to say hello to the MVP and shake his hand. Security people escorted these fans off the field, but there weren’t really enough security forces to restrain the numbers of people jumping onto the field.
  • Inning 9: Cleveland was down 5-3. Despite all the projectiles and the occasional fan rushing the field, Cleveland managed to score two runs and tie the game. More fans ran onto the field in celebration. Then someone tried to steal Burroughs’ glove for a souvenir. Reports vary about whether the fan was able to get the glove away from Burroughs or not. The fan punched Burroughs; Burroughs punched back.
  • In reply, nearby drunk and angry fans jumped onto the field, swarming around Burroughs. Some still in the stands wrenched their chairs out of their bearings and threw them onto the field, aiming for Burroughs.
  • Texas Rangers manager Billy Martin (known to show his temper now and then) grabbed a bat and said to his team, “Let’s get ‘em, boys,” on his way out of the clubhouse. When Martin and his team rushed the field, thousands of fans streamed out of the stands.

Not shockingly, the Indians had to forfeit the game. I’d pay 10 cents a thousand times to be able to go back and time and rush the field with the rest of these drunk idiots. Cheers to you, Indians promoters, and the year 1974.

-bp

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