It has been exactly 40 years since the Cleveland Indians held a promotion that allowed fans to purchase 12-ounce beers for the low price of $0.10.
The usual price of beer at a Tribe game back then was $0.65, so by reducing the price by more than six times the original price, the organization was hoping to attract more fans. To put that in perspective, if a similar price reduction occurred today, a 12-ounce beer would cost about $0.60 (currently the regular price is $4 at an Indians game).
The cheap beer wasn’t the only issue on that night. There was also no limit to how many trips a fan could make throughout the night (there was a limit to how many beers a fan could purchase per trip, but it was set at the ridiculous number of six). So fans virtually could drink all the beer they could consume.
Another reason beyond the alcohol was that the Tribe was squaring off against a team that they had just had a bench-clearing brawl with one week prior, the Texas Rangers. Texas actually had a $0.10 beer night of their own that game, and some of the team’s fans threw beer and food at the Indians’ players during the brawl. This definitely instilled some animosity in the Tribe fans before this game even took place.
Things began to take a turn for the worse after Indians hitter Leron Lee hit a line drive right into the stomach of Rangers pitcher Ferguson Jenkins. Tribe fans began cheering at the injured Jenkins, and the crowd became even more wild. Craziness ensued the rest of the game, with something different happening every inning.
Flashing, streaking, and mooning were some of the main occurrences, which were pretty harmless. But once some firecrackers were being thrown on top of the Rangers’ dugout, things got nasty and players began fearing for their own safety.
What sparked the benches to empty was a fan trying to steal the hat of Texas outfielder Jeff Burroughs. After Burroughs tripped and fell while confronting the fan, the rest of the Rangers’ players charged out of the dugout believing that the outfielder was attacked.
This is when a large number of fans entered the field, and a riot ensued. Even the Indians’ players tried to help the Rangers fend off the fans, but the situation had gotten well out of control by then, and the game was called off. The Indians took the loss by forfeit, even with the score being tied at five in the ninth inning.
The Indians actually held another $0.10 beer night on July 18 of that same year, but this time the limit was set at two beers per purchase and things were much calmer this time around.
Cleveland fans made two things very clear on that June 4 night: they love their beer, and they love their Tribe.