June 4th in baseball history: Cheap beer and big crowd means trouble

Scary night in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, OHIO | JUNE 4, 1974 - The suds flowed a little too freely on this date in 1974, and it got scary. A promotion by the Cleveland Indians to get more people into Cleveland Municipal Stadium worked. More than 25,000 showed up for 10¢ beer night, about triple the normal Indians crowd. There was no limit to the beers or, as it turned out, the rowdiness. The fans got more unruly as the game went on. There were several instances of inebriated fans running on the field and throwing objects at visiting Texas Rangers players.

It all came to a head in the 9th. Texas was up 5-3, and the Indians began to stir, but so too did hundreds of already rowdy fans into their 3rd hour of consumption. The Indians rallied and tied the game 5-5, and still had runners at first and second with 2 outs. This is when the rowdiness turned into more of a riot; fans began stomping on the Rangers dugout, more ran on the field harassing visiting Rangers, especially first baseman Mike Hargrove (later an Indian player and manager, but at the time a Ranger) and outfielder Jeff Burroughs. Ranger Manager Billy Martin, not one to back away from a fight, led some of his players to Burroughs' aide after fans surrounded him. Even the Indians joined in the rescue. It became apparent the game would not continue. Home plate umpire Nestor Chylak called it a forfeit by the Indians.

There was some history between the Rangers and Indians that year. A week before the Cleveland incident, Texas had a "cheap beer night" with the Indians in town. There was a bench-clearing brawl in that game. Fortunately the fans stayed out of it.

Contributing Sources:
Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas, April 10, 1965
More on 10¢ beer night
June 4, 1974 box score

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