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Happy 39th anniversary, Ten Cent Beer Night!

Jun 4, 2013, 11:04 AM EDT

Ten Cent Beer Night

I memorialize this every year because, man, why wouldn’t you? But today is the 39th anniversary of Ten Cent Beer Night. The Cleveland Indians’ promotion that gave unhappy people unlimited quantities of nearly-free alcohol and, amazingly, turned into utter chaos.

Paul Jackson’s 2008 story remains the gold standard on Ten Cent Beer Night, giving us the background of how it went down and why Cleveland in 1974 was the perfect time and place for that to turn into the mess it became.

I still think the biggest eye-opener of the whole thing was just how different the ballpark environment was in 1974 vs. the environment of today. Ballparks back then had turned into rowdy, drunken places where people simply didn’t want to take their families. While some argue today that it was a better time for baseball, citing national TV ratings and the place baseball still held in the national consciousness, go back and look at the attendance figures of the early-to-mid 70s to see just how marginal live baseball was in most cities.

A reason why? Mike Hargrove was nearly brained by an empty gallon-jug of Thunderbird early in the game. This was BEFORE THE ACTUAL RIOT.  These days no one would be able to get such a thing into a ballpark, let alone drink it undetected. And if it was thrown onto the field there would likely be a stoppage in play and possibly a suspended game. The person who threw it would be pointed out by near-by fans and, at worst, we’d get a YouTube video of his arrest because such a thing would be eye-popping indeed.  In 1974? Well, just something that might happen.

It’s a way better ballpark experience today than it was back in the so-called good old days. And the farther we get from those good old days, the more stark that distinction becomes.

  1. heyblueyoustink - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Wasn’t around for ten cent beers. But I definitely miss five cent wings.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      I remember when Pop was a quarter…w/ the occasional bottle machine selling small bottles of pop for 15 cents. That is as far back as I go.

  2. chill1184 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Can only imagine if promotions like this became the norm in these modern times.

  3. chadjones27 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    What was the standard price of beer back then? Wikipedia has that 10 cent beer normal price at 65 cents. Now, I’ve seen 16 oz bottles of bud light for $7.75. “Premium” 16 oz. cans of Stella or Corona for $9.25. Can’t see how anyone can afford to get plastered (in the ball park) at these prices. A similar promotion today I guess would be those bud lights for $1.25? “Here’s 30 bucks, give me the case.” I can see fans getting lit up at those prices. I’d hate to be within throwing distance.

    PS: yes, I know the 10 cent beer night had limit of 6 per purchase. But, you and 3 friends could get the case.

    • MarcomTim - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      I was there that night! Totally bizarre! Even back then the standard price for a beer was probably around $2.00 so 10 cents for a beer was a major cost savings, which basically turned the game into an “open keg” night. What could go wrong? : )

      • mrsyudarvish - Jun 4, 2013 at 9:47 PM

        I was there that night too, but it got scary around the fifth inning and we left before things got too ugly. It wasn’t fun.

  4. Old Gator - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Doesn’t that look like Johnny Cueto kicking in that prostrate concessionaire’s head?

  5. watchfullhose - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    No, it looks like Zack Greinke “trying” to fight.

  6. samsjmail - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    I was at the old Arlington Stadium when David Clyde pitched his first game. It was 10 cent beer night, and I believe was the first sell-out in stadium history.

    Sat in left field for 2 bucks and got very drunk for under a dollar.

    Clyde struck out 8……..I think.

    We had no designated driver and just drove home drunk. I was barely old enough to drink legally.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 4, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      Good memory sam, Clyde debuted June 27, 1973 against the Twins. Fanned 8, walked 7, pitched 5 innings, got the win over Jim Kaat. Then headed down the road to inevitable greatness. Sadly, the sinkhole of arm injury soon claimed him, perhaps due to his having been rushed into the majors at 18. He went 18-33 with a 4.63 ERA.

      • samsjmail - Jun 4, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        I don’t remember who the owner was at that time…Bob Short? He was desperate to sell tickets. Sad story, really.

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