Texas Rangers @ Cleveland Indians, June 4, 1974, (partially found "Ten Cent Beer Night" baseball game; 1974)
|Promo for the infamous game.|
On June 4, 1974, the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers played a baseball game in what would later become infamously known as Ten Cent Beer Night due to the promotion of the game, which would gain notoriety due to the riot that occurred during the game, where fans invaded the pitch.
The cause of the riot was due to the fact that fans were served unlimited amounts of cheap 3.2% beer for ten cents (0.50 in 2016) in 12 US fl oz cups, or 350 milliliters, and the fact that the teams played earlier that season in Arlington Stadium (the Rangers home stadium in 1974), in a game that involved a bench clearing brawl and Rangers fans chucking food at Indians players, giving an already tense atmosphere even more animosity.
Full footage of the game, or its radio broadcasts, has never resurfaced, perhaps archived by MLB Productions. Some partial footage has resurfaced in documentaries surrounding the game, but in limited degrees.
While beer promotions had been done multiple times around the league before without incident, the game in question was a little more special. The previous meeting between the two teams in Arlington ended in a bench clearing brawl resulting from both teams' aggression, in which Indians players were pelted with food and beer by the home fans. Despite the delay, the game was not called off, and the Rangers won 3-0.
To add fuel to the flames, when Billy Martin, manager of the Rangers, was asked by a Cleveland reporter if he was concerned for his safety, Martin responded, "Naw, they won't have enough fans there to worry about." In response, sports radio talk hosts Pete Franklin and Joe Tait (an Indians radio announcer) made aggressive comments towards the Rangers, adding more animosity. The Plain Dealer even went as far as to print a cartoon the day of the game, showing Chief Wahoo holding a pair of boxing gloves with the caption, "Be ready for anything."
The attendance for the game was 25,134, twice expected for the game. The Rangers took an early 3-1 lead, and by the 6th inning, lead 5-3. As the night progressed, the crowd got even more unruly. Fans chanted "hit him harder!" in reaction to Rangers pitcher Ferguson Jenkins being hit by a line drive. A woman ran on the pitch and flashed her breasts, a naked man ran on the pitch to second base and a father and son pair even invaded the pitch to moon the stadium.
The incidents got worse as the night progressed. Rangers first baseman Mike Hargrove was pelted by hot dogs and spit, even nearly being hit by a wine jug. A close call at 3rd base lead to an argument between the teams, to which the drunk crowd began throwing objects on the field, even firecrackers.
By the bottom of the 9th inning, the Indians managed to score two runs off Rangers reliever Steve Foucault, tying the game 5-5. By this time, fan Terry Yerkic, 19, charged Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs and tripped him; thinking he was attacked, the entire Rangers dugout stormed the field, but this action provoked the heavily intoxicated crowd. Hundreds of fans rushed onto the field, attacking Rangers players.
Soon, Indians manager Ken Aspromonte ordered his players to help defend the Rangers players from the rioters, before eventually security could contain the situation, and allowing the players to run into the dugouts and into safety. Security response was notoriously slow, as Cleveland Police Department SWAT had to be called in to finally quell the rioters.
3 bases were stolen from the game, never to be returned; only 9 fans were arrested that night. The game was forfeited to the Rangers. Despite the damage to the stadium, the following game the next day was still played, with the Indians prevailing 9-3. From this point on, sales of alcohol in MLB games were limited.
Finding footage of the game is notoriously difficult. It's been said that the game exists in MLB Productions' archive, but not to be shown publicly, given the controversy of the event. During this time, MLB games weren't broadcasted frequently on television, sometimes only once a week, and regular transmissions only began in the 1990s.
Despite this, it's possible that someone living in the Cleveland or Dallas area might have recorded this, as several primitive VCRs began being released in the 1970s, as it seems this game might have been broadcast on television (WJW-TV in Cleveland and WBAP-TV in Dallas). However, it's unlikely. Radio broadcasts of the game are more likely to exist.
Limited footage is available in a mini-documentary detailing the event: