I started this “blog a day” thing off on the right foot, by posting my blogs at the earliest possible moment, which gave me a nice cushion to fall back on if I was falling behind. Somewhere down the line I did in fact fall behind and I’ve been posting closer and closer to the deadline. Today I mean to get back on track. It is now 5:09 am, and I’ve decided to relate yet another….brace yourselves…SPORTS STORY!!! (You didn’t see that coming did you?)
I promise this will be the last such tale. I definitely do not want my blog to turn into a “Sports Blog” especially since I’ve mentioned, on countless occasions, that I really don’t have much use for sports. What I do enjoy, however, are scandals and funny incidents, and such things happen in the Sporting World all the time. Recently I was floating around on the Internet, watching random YouTube videos, reading random Wikipedia articles, downloading
porn pictures of cute kittens, and somehow happened across an article about a baseball incident, which I’d never heard about before, that had me literally crying with laughter.
It took place on June 4th, 1974, in Cleveland Ohio. The Cleveland Indians, at that time, sucked. They sucked really REALLY bad. A couple weeks prior to the incident I’m going to tell you about, they had been in Texas, playing a team called the Rangers, which was at that time managed by a notorious loudmouth named Billy Martin. (He also happened to be one goofy looking motherfucker, which may have had something to do with why he was such a loudmouth.)
The Indians, to nobody’s great surprise got trounced badly, and the game ended with both teams emptying onto the field to engage in a gigantic brawl. Thus a heated rivalry had begun between the two teams. The Rangers were to play in Cleveland in a little while, and when someone asked Billy Martin if he had any concerns about the fans there he said something like “What fans?”
This statement would go down in baseball history as one of THE dumbest things ever said. Promoters in Cleveland hooked onto it, and not wanting to be shown up by an upstart like Billy Martin, they came up with a brilliant idea. They called it “Ten Cent Beer Night” and it was exactly what it sounds like. For ten cents, fans could purchase a 12 oz cup of beer. (Even in 1974 ten cents wasn’t a lot of money.) Before you jump to the conclusion that this was a really bad idea right from the start, I want to point out some major precautions were taken. A fan was only allowed to purchase a mere SIX of these beers at one time. (Though there was no limit to the number of times they could go up and buy an additional SIX cups of beer.)
Cleveland Municipal Stadium had a capacity of about 30,000, but the Indians had been performing so badly that year, the stands generally only had about 8000, and that was if the weather was nice. Ten Cent Beer Night brought in a record 25,134 fans, and quite a few of them didn’t give a damn about baseball. On that particular evening, it was WAY cheaper to go to a baseball game to get drunk than to go to the bar. Or for that matter, probably even to drink at home. (Hell, even I would go sit through an entire baseball game if it meant I could practically drink for free!)
The crowd was loud and unruly before the game even started. During the 2nd inning the first streaker took to the field. A fat sweaty cop made a feeble attempt to catch him, but failed and the naked man traversed the field and disappeared back into the inebriated crowd.
A little while later there was another streaking attempt, but by then somebody must have realized the potential for trouble a completely drunken stadium full of people could cause and had the foresight to summon additional police. The second streaker was subdued and removed from the premises.
At any given time during the game, there were more drunken fans on the field than players. A woman ran out and flashed her breasts. A father and son pair made their way into the outfield and mooned the crowd, to the delight of the cheering, intoxicated stadium. (Nobody really seemed to be paying much attention to the game which was, as usual, going very badly for the Indians.)
Meanwhile the hapless Rangers, though winning at baseball, were losing at life. Not only were they being jeered and heckled relentlessly, they were being rained down on with a constant barrage of hot dogs, spit, beer cups both empty and full, and someone was almost struck in the head with an empty glass gallon of something called Thunderbird.
The crowd grew more and more restless. At some point someone managed to throw a package of lit firecrackers into the Rangers’ dugout! (For the record, that’s no way to treat a visiting sports team,no matter how much you despise them.)
And then, in the bottom of the 9th inning, a miracle happened. The Cleveland Indians somehow managed to rally back from a huge deficit, and tied the game 5-5. If they could get one more run, they would win the game and Ten Cent Beer Night, despite all of its flaws, could actually be marked down as a successful (albeit hilarious) venture in marketing strategy.
But alas it was not to be. Some drunken fool sprinted across the field and made a grab at the hat of the Rangers’ pitcher. The pitcher, in attempting to save his hat, tripped and fell, which Billy Martin interpreted as a physical attack by the fan. He and his players took to the field, some of them wielding baseball bats, with the intention of protecting their pitcher.
And that was when all hell broke loose. The wildly inebriated crowd, which had been guzzling cheap beer at this point for approximately 3 hours, literally surged onto the field in one giant, drunken completely uncontrollable mass of angry humanity. Some of them were armed with chains, broken bottles, and chunks of the metal stands they had torn away from their moorings.
The most heartwarming part of this story, to me, is that now the Cleveland Indians, realizing their opponents were in serious possibly life threatening danger, now set aside their baseball differences and hurried out onto the field, armed with baseball bats, to protect the Rangers! It was now baseball player vs. baseball fan as the two teams literally had to fight their way through drunk angry fans and out of the stadium.
The game was forfeited to the Rangers. The stadium was literally torn apart. The bases were stolen from the field (and never recovered) and it’s very likely that not much profit could have been made from the sale of beer.
If shit like this happened more often, I might actually consider becoming a sports fan.