Remembering 10-Cent Beer Night
June 4, 2008 12:25 PM   Subscribe

ESPN's Paul Jackson tells the tale of 10-Cent Beer Night and the ensuing riot in Cleveland on June 4, 1974.
posted by togdon (28 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Infamous. Here's the wiki on it (and on Disco Demolition Night as well).
posted by ornate insect at 12:35 PM on June 4, 2008

Such a great story. The ESPN writer starts out slow but in the end does a terrific job of capturing the steady escalation into the riot.
posted by Falconetti at 12:45 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Crazy photos.
posted by ORthey at 12:46 PM on June 4, 2008

Wow... new to me.

Thanks, togdon!
posted by BobFrapples at 12:47 PM on June 4, 2008

And that's why beer is so expensive at ballgames today.
puffs on pipe, closes book, rocks chair
posted by boo_radley at 12:50 PM on June 4, 2008 [9 favorites]

If this had been a rock concert where this had happened, the national guard would have shot a few kids, and concerts would be forever banned. But when its sports its just some basically good kids that got a little out of control. Disgusting.
posted by Yer-Ol-Pal at 12:55 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

If this had been a rock concert where this had happened, the national guard would have shot a few kids, and concerts would be forever banned.

Altamount was worse (four deaths). No national guard, no concert ban.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:08 PM on June 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

If you're really a sports geek (like me) the complete list of forfeits is here. Some of the stories from the early days are particular gems: 07/04/1883 Providence at Philadelphia; Philadelphia was leading 11 to 9 at the end of 7 innings when Providence left the field to catch a train to New York.

Also: 09/24/1884, Baltimore at Pittsburgh; The appointed umpire failed to show for the game and the Baltimore manager, Billy Barnie, was selected as a substitute. He made several calls in favor of his team that upset the crowd.

Good story, thanks.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:09 PM on June 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

They were drinking Stroh's - of course they were gonna get unruly! Even American League president Lee McPhail commented, "There was no question that beer played a part in the riot." I'm sure he was referring to the quality of the beer, not the quantity.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:11 PM on June 4, 2008

There's a quasi-poem in there somewhere.


I just don't know what to say
I don't blame him
Here we go again
They've stolen the bases
The bases are gone
It's unbelievable
Just unbelievable
posted by aerotive at 1:18 PM on June 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

That's an EMF song.
posted by BobFrapples at 1:22 PM on June 4, 2008

2100 dead. Now that's a sport-inspired riot.
posted by lalochezia at 1:25 PM on June 4, 2008

They were drinking Stroh's - of course they were gonna get unruly!

I know I'll lose some beer snob cred here, but I occasionally drink Stroh's--it's the cheapest thing in the supermarket at 45 or so cents a can--and I don't hate it. It's great for drinking all day long on a camping trip.

As much as I don't want to see players and umpires getting hurt at ballgames, you've got to imagine that such an environment was great for folks who wanted to blow off a little steam with 20,000 like-minded souls. You don't go to a ten-cent beer game unless you're ready to get s-faced and throw a few punches.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2008

Great article. Was there any contention that baseball is just an excuse to get stinking drunk and act inappropriately in public? It's amazing to me that if we were less uptight, as a society, the pro sports empires would unravel. Sure, there would still be a few people who actually are in it for the sport, but I bet the majority of Americans can't make it through a game totally sober.
Tait: Well, that shows you the complete lack of brainpower on the parts of some people. There's no way I'm going to run out onto the field if I see some baseball player waving a bat out there looking for somebody. This is tragic … The whole thing has degenerated now into just -- now we've got another fight going with fans and ballplayers. Hargrove has got some kid on the ground and he is really administering a beating.
I can't help but feel this is symbolic for the relationship between baseball management and higher ups (you know, the money guys, not so much the actual team managers). Not meant as a slight to the Cleveland players; there was obviously deep shit going down that night.
posted by Eideteker at 2:10 PM on June 4, 2008

25,134 fans X $.10 a beer X 6 beers per fan = $15,080.40
posted by Brocktoon at 2:13 PM on June 4, 2008

This really makes me want to see Mike Hargrove circa 2008 beating the crap out of some kid on the field.

Also: The article doesn't explicitly state it, but could this have been the birth of Morganna?

According to Wikipedia: No.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:29 PM on June 4, 2008

aerotive, I felt that, too. I came up with:

Aw, this is an absolute tragedy.
Absolute tragedy
I've been in this business for over 20 years, and I have never seen anything as disgusting as this.

I just don't know what to say.

This is tragic … The whole thing has degenerated now into just --
a beating.
Look at Duke down there going at it.
Yeah, Duke is in on it.

They've stolen the bases.
Just unbelievable.

The bases are gone.
posted by SaintCynr at 3:17 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Terrific story. As always, baseball is what we make it.
posted by grounded at 3:21 PM on June 4, 2008

Any rumination on Cleveland's fortunes in the '70s must include the woeful state of the Cuyahoga River, which ran a winding course through downtown. In 1952, it caught fire for the ninth time. Years and years of absorbing liberal amounts of industrial waste had turned the Cuyahoga into something more than just a waterway. The fetid river burned with Stygian fury, destroying $1.5 million in property. Despite the significance of the incident, it didn't attract much national news coverage. But in 1969, when the Cuyahoga caught fire again, flames reached five stories in height and burned for almost a half-hour.

posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:57 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Altamount was worse (four deaths). No national guard, no concert ban.

And don't forget Woodstock '99.

Also, somewhat relatedly, there's The Who in Cincinnati, December 3, 1979, which did cause major changes to seating policies at concerts.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 4:44 PM on June 4, 2008

As a Clevelander born and bred, I too often ask "WTF Ohio." Although these examples are Cleveland-centric, I do have to say that most contemporary "WTF Ohio" situations do not arise in NE Ohio but rather central and southern Ohio.
posted by Falconetti at 5:06 PM on June 4, 2008

25,134 fans X $.10 a beer X 6 beers per fan = $15,080.40

Well, in Cleveland's defense, the math was something like $15,080.40 = cost required to attract 12,000 fans to ballpark (article says attendance was twice normal) that wouldn't have otherwise come, and may come again in the future once they see how much fun they can have.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:16 PM on June 4, 2008

"And don't forget Woodstock '99."

Wikipedia: The hundreds of empty plastic water bottles that littered the lawn/dance area were found to be excellent fuel for the fires.

For the love of Christ, why haven't we outlawed/banned these things yet? Won't someone think of the children?
posted by Eideteker at 7:11 PM on June 4, 2008

a man -- entirely naked -- ran onto the field and slid into second, probably getting dirt in places unsuitable for speculation.

Ha! Dirt road up his dirt road. I bet that got him a few drinks in the ensuing years.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:18 PM on June 4, 2008

SaintCynr, Aerotive:
Here's a review for O Holy Cow - The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto.
posted by swell at 7:31 PM on June 4, 2008

Stay classy America!
posted by PenDevil at 12:17 AM on June 5, 2008

I never get tired of this tale, but this is a fact I was not aware of before

Early on, the demand for beer surpassed the Indians' capacity to ferry it to concession stands, and a luminary, perhaps the same person who suggested the promotion in the first place, decided to allow fans to line up behind the outfield fences and have their cups filled directly from Stroh's company trucks.

That is amazing. Also, I love the idea of 1970s kids, probably with shitty mustaches and half-shirts, wild and bored, getting drunk and going nuts. I wonder if in 30-40 years there will be romantic notions of dbags in flip-flops and Abercrombie & Fitche wardrobes, educated on daddy's dime, burning tires after their college wins some sort of nation title? Lord, I hope not.
posted by 8 Bit at 7:27 AM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

There's a fantastic book called "Oops" about the 20 worse business decisions in American history. That book was where I first heard about this event, and even though I hadn't even been born yet when it happened, I still just marvel at the idea that nearly-free, unlimited alcohol to angry sports fan in an enclosed area could have only been suggested because there were nightmarish plans that were even worse.

(Other chapters in the book include the XFL, the Dodge La Femme, and Boston's John Hancock building. I think pretty much every chapter could be its own FPP.)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:11 AM on June 5, 2008

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