1974 – In a promotional event gone awry, the Cleveland Indians are forced to forfeit their game against the Texas Rangers as the “10-cent beer night” promotion leads to fan unruliness and a violent playing environment at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
The Rangers, coincidentally enough, had just hosted a successful similar promotion themselves and the Indians, who were struggling to fill the seats with a forgettable team best led by the 38-year-old Frank Robinson and the brothers Perry, Gaylord and Jim, followed suit. The move worked, as the team hosted 25,134 fans on a Tuesday night for the six-cup-per-trip drink limit from the vendors just three days after 4,205 paid to watch the elder Perry defeat the Royals, 5-2, on a Saturday.
On the field, however, the two clubs had been engaged in a brawl on May 29th in a game the Rangers won in Texas, 3-0. The scene in Cleveland would be far more violent and unpredictable, as multiple individuals “bared” their all to the fans, players, and even the umpiring crew on the field. Firecrackers popped in the stands throughout the game, streakers hit the field, and drunkenness took over quickly.
The game, in between and around the antics, was actually a good one, lost in the dramatics. Ranger Tom Grieve homered in the second off of Cleveland starter Fritz Peterson and would do so again in the fourth off of Dick Bosman, one inning after an RBI-double by Cesar Tovar. Oscar Gamble knocked in the Indians’ first run in the bottom of the frame to cut the deficit to 3-1, but future Indians third baseman Toby Harrah scored a pair with a triple in the sixth to make it a 5-1 Rangers lead.
Fighting back, the Indians scored two unearned runs early in the sixth off of Fergie Jenkins to reduce the Rangers lead to two. Still down two in the ninth, George Hendrick doubled and scored on an Ed Crosby one-out single and Crosby would score on what would be the final play of the game, a bases loaded one-out sacrifice fly from John Lowenstein to knot the game at five. With the winning run at second, a man entered the playing field from the outfield seats and approached outfielder Jeff Burroughs, flipping the cap off of his head. As the affected outfielder went to approach his tormenter, he tripped and fell, leading former Indians player and colorful manager Billy Martin to lead his team from the dugout to protect their teammate, armed with items of self-defense. Indians manager Ken Aspromonte sent his players onto the field to aid the same team they had brawled with just days earlier. Bases were stolen, players were injured, and others, including future Indians first baseman and manager Mike Hargrove, got a few punches in along the way, all while the stadium organist played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
The game would not resume and was instead forfeited. Cleveland Police were called in to restore order, dispersing the crowd in a half hour.