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'10 Cent Beer Night' Fiasco at Cleveland Stadium Was 40 Years Ago

Image: '10 Cent Beer Night' Fiasco at Cleveland Stadium Was 40 Years Ago
In this June 4, 1974. file photo, Texas Rangers' Jeff Burroughs, center, runs off the field with his teammates during the Beer Night melee at Cleveland Stadium. The Indians forfeited the game to the Rangers after fans, fueled by 10-cent beers, stormed the field in the ninth inning.

By    |   Thursday, 05 Jun 2014 06:50 AM

For a Major League baseball franchise starving for fans in 1974, "10-Cent Beer Night" at Cleveland Municipal Stadium must have seemed like a really good idea at the time. What could possibly go wrong?

What resulted on June 4, 1974, turned into one of the most ill-fated promotions and surreal nights in American sports history as the Texas Rangers took on the Cleveland Indians. The game was eventually forfeited after unruly fans took over the field against the players, according to MLB.com.

Dan Coughlin, a sportswriter who attended the game, told Cleveland's Plain Dealer this week on the incident's 40th anniversary that he remembered the team being happy with the 25,134 fans that showed up, but dismayed by the other statistics: 60,000 orders of beer sold, 19 streakers, seven emergency room injuries and nine arrests.

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"The Tribe had just come from 10-Cent Beer Night in Texas where fans had thrown beer and food on them," Coughlin told the Plain Dealer. "When Rangers manager Billy Martin had been asked by the press if he was worried about retaliation from Cleveland fans, he said Cleveland didn't have enough fans for them to worry about.

"Sports radio host Pete Franklin spent an entire week on the radio whipping Cleveland fans into a frenzy over the Billy Martin insult. The place was full of college kids home from school for the summer. A lot of people showed up already drunk before the game even started. Did I mention there was a full moon that night?" Coughlin continued.

Coughlin said when stadium announcer Herb Score asked fans not to run onto the field, it was seen as an invitation.

"A woman ran out and lifted her shirt and flashed the crowd," Coughlin told the newspaper. "A father and son mooned the crowd and then slid into second base. More and more people began streaking through the outfield."

Everything fell apart in the ninth inning when a fan jumped over the outfield wall and flipped the cap off Ranger player Jeff Burroughs, according to MLB.com. Burroughs fell to the ground trying to kick the fan. Martin, believing that Burroughs was attacked, told his team to run to Burroughs' defense and the Indians then left their dugout in the Rangers' defense, noted MLB.com.

"If that fan hadn't tried to get Burroughs' cap, that night would have ended without anything," Paul Tepley, of the old Cleveland Press told MLB.com. "When that happened and the players got hurt and some of the fans got hurt, that was enough of that. Game over, Indians lose."

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For a Major League baseball franchise starving for fans in 1974, "10-Cent Beer Night" at Cleveland Municipal Stadium must have seemed like a really good idea at the time. What could possibly go wrong?
10, cent, beer, night
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2014-50-05
Thursday, 05 Jun 2014 06:50 AM
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