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Happy Anniversary, Ten Cent Beer Night!

Jun 4, 2012, 9:11 AM EDT

Ten Cent Beer Night

On June 4, 1974 the Cleveland Indians did what every right-thinking organization in need of an attendance boost would do: they offered fans ten cent beer with no purchase limits (in today’s dollars it would be 47 cent beer night).  What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, of course:

Meanwhile, throughout the contest, the crowd in attendance, which was already heavily inebriated, grew more and more unruly. A woman ran out to the Indians’ on-deck circle and flashed her breasts, and a naked man sprinted to second base as Grieve hit his second home run of the game. A father and son pair ran onto the outfield and mooned the fans in the bleachers one inning later. The crowd was further agitated when Cleveland’s Leron Lee hit a line drive into the stomach of Rangers pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, after which Jenkins dropped to the ground. Fans in the upper deck of Municipal Stadium cheered, then chanted “Hit ‘em again! Hit ‘em again! Harder! Harder!”

As the game progressed, more fans ran onto the field and caused problems. Ranger Mike Hargrove was pelted with hot dogs and spit, and at one point was nearly struck with an empty gallon jug of Thunderbird.

And that’s before the full-scale riot actually occurred, ending the game.  And note: why anyone would bring a bottle of Thunderbird to a game when the beer was already dirt cheap is beyond me, but it was the 1970s I guess.

A few years ago, Paul Jackson of ESPN wrote a long remembrance of Ten Cent Beer Night, complete with background, Cleveland history and an analysis of everything that led up to and fell out from the ill-fated promotion.  It’s great reading.

Oh, and the best part: despite the ten cent beer promotion more than tripling average attendance that night, the park — with a capacity of some 81,000 — still only held 25,000 that night.  Different times, dudes. Different times.

  1. acdc363 - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Awesome story.

    • antlerclaws - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:54 AM

      That was a very entertaining article….several mentions of Tom Grieve, who is now the Rangers TV color commentator. Wonder if he’ll do some reminiscing tonight during Rangers game in Oakland? (If he can stop talking about free cookies people send him.)

  2. deadeyedesign23 - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    I’d settle for $8 beer night now.

  3. stairwayto7 - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Maybe they need to do that again so people go to Indian games and Chris Perez will quit whining!

  4. heyblueyoustink - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Clearly, the blasphemous wasting of a perfectly good hot dog is the worst offense in this case. Truly a momentous horror. I hope they were banned for life.

    • Old Gator - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM

      The only “perfectly good hot dogs” are Hebrew National 100% beef kosher dogs if you’re a carnivore; Tofurkey dogs if you’re not. The rest have lower ratios of nutrition to toxins than mid-road carrion. If there was a travesty that night – dear Buddha, was that really thirty eight years ago? – it was the gratuitous interference by the authorities that kept the region of northeastern Ohio from conclusively policing its own gene pool.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:33 AM

        ” The rest have lower ratios of nutrition to toxins than mid-road carrion”

        C’mon Gator, I think the hot dog is supposed to be inherently unhealthy. If I wanted health food i’d go with an eggplant shake or something.

        I’m just fine with a Nathans or Dietz and Watson off the grill. But not a Phillies Phrank in the packs at your friendly neighborhood grocery stores, they no longer offer free tickets in each and every pack to a ball game.

      • Kevin S. - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        There’s unhealthy food, and then there’s hot dogs. Seriously, check out what’s actually in them one time. Or not, if you’d like to continue enjoying them in ignorant bliss.

  5. CJ - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    I was going to say that it’s a good thing this didn’t happen in Philly, otherwise we’d have to hear about it more than just once a year (or 28), but I won’t. Because that would be frowned upon in this establishment.

  6. mybrunoblog - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    That’s a great story.
    When I was about 7 or 8 I went to Shea Stadium with my cousins for “Mets raincoat giveaway”. It was basically a thick white garbage bag with a few buttons and the mets name mark in script on the front. Maybe the 1970s didn’t suck after all.

  7. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    more unruly. A woman ran out to the Indians’ on-deck circle and flashed her breasts,

    Exposed breasts are never unruly!

    • number42is1 - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:16 AM

      what if shes 90?

      • tmohr - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:18 AM

        Depends on if you’re 90, I guess.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:34 AM

        90 year old breasts should be retired from flashing for all age audiences,

      • number42is1 - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:45 AM

        THANK YOU!

      • Old Gator - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:10 AM

        Buck Brown died in vain, I see.

      • stabonerichard - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        That’s a risk I’d be willing to take in order to check out the photos.

      • dexterismyhero - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        Ocuh! I guess you can always ask who would want to be 90….Anyone that is 89 maybe?

  8. Ben - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    I’m gonna go ahead and say it–that sounds awesome.
    But I’m glad every game isn’t like that. Maybe every one out of twenty? Just to blow off steam.

  9. jimbo1949 - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    OK, I expect to see a remembrance next month of Disco Demolition Night. There really were some Old School promotions back in the day.

    • stabonerichard - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      Any truth to the rumor that Cole Hamels was conceived that night, somewhere in the bowels of the stadium?

  10. wlschneider09 - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    “And note: why anyone would bring a bottle of Thunderbird to a game when the beer was already dirt cheap is beyond me,”

    Less bathroom trips.

  11. professor30 - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    It’s true, beer does make everything better!

  12. hank10 - Jun 4, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    10 cent beer. Brilliant!!

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