Tuesday, January 20, 2009

America Week #1: Two Cent Beer Night

America, it really is the best place ever. After the events of yesterday, we can finally feel confident in our patriotism, that we love our country for the right reasons, America is truly something to love and be proud of. No longer must our patriotism hide in the shadows of our shame. For America's dream, it's promise, it's lure, has truly been exhibited. We are again the land of milk and honey, a land where dreams come true for those who once could not even afford the luxury of dreaming.

To honor this day, and this country, all week will be "America Week." America Week will be a celebration of America through stories THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN AMERICA.

Story #1 Ten Cent Beer Night
What is more American than beer? Actually, since beer is more or less a German thing, I'm thinking more of the action of drinking a beer on a hot summer day. And what is more American than drinking a beer on a hot summer day? Nothing. Nothing except baseball. And what is more American than drinking a beer on a hot summer day while watching a baseball game? Nothing at all, expect of course a black president.


Cleveland, June 4, 1974. It was a hot American night. The type of humidity coming off a Great Lake made your shirt stick to you the way it only could in America. The Rangers were in from Texas playing the Indians, and all hell was about to break loose. Earlier in the week, the Indians were in Texas and a fight broke out midgame. After a few shenanigans, the Indians' first baseman punched out Texas' pitcher in the 8th inning. A bench clearing brawl ensued. Insult was added to injury when the Texas fans dumped beer onto the Indians.

All of Cleveland knew it was payback time. At the time Cleveland was in rough shape. The Cuahoga River, which runs through downtown Cleveland went up in flames for the ninth time in 1952 destroying 1.5 million dollars worth of property. Nothing was done till the river burned again in 1969, this time even with flames reaching five stories high and burning for more than half an hour, only $50,000 worth of property was destroyed. How could a fire, on water, in downtown Cleveland only produce $50,000 worth of damage? Leading up to 74, well over 600 factories fled Cleveland, leaving behind only staggering unemployment and block after block of abaondment buildings. Between 1970 and 1980, Cleveland would loose nearly 200,000 residents. And in the midst of all this, the city council debated and declaring bankruptcy, a move unheard of since the Great Depression.

So, in a city like this, how do you get people out to see a baseball game when normally the stadium only sells 25 percent of its seats? You offer them 10 cent beer. The owner of the Indians couldn't stand too look out and see all the empty seats and some brilliant promotions guy came up with ten cent beer night. And it worked, on June 4th, 25,134 people bought tickets, triple normal crowd on regular priced beer night.

Hilarity immediately ensued.

In what could be the only evidence needed to prove the vast superiority of Clevelanders to just about anyone else from anywhere that isn't Cleveland, a huge number of fans showed up to the game with pockets stuffed full of fireworks. And they didn't even wait till the first pitch to start setting them off.

By the second inning, a woman had leaped from the stands, ran to the on-deck circle, flashed the crowd, and attempted to kiss the umpire. This only inspired more streakers, including a man in the fourth inning who slid into second base naked, and a father son team that mooned the entire Rangers' dugout. And everytime security tried to chase one fan off the field, others would leap into the outfield from their seats in right or left field, only to run to the opposite side, hop over the barricade, and loose themselves in the pandemonium of the crowd.

As the game went on, the crowd became drunker and more awesome. A man threw a tennis ball onto the field, chased after it, led security on a chase around the outfield, bumped into another fan on the field, hugged him, and hoped back up into the stands. By this point, fans had gone beyond throwing empty or somewhat full beer cups onto the field, and graduated to bombarding the field with rocks, batteries, golf balls, and even parts of the stadium itself. Attempts to clean the field by the ground crew were halted after the crews became nothing more than moving targets.

By this point, the stadium's crew could not move the beer fast enough from it's holding truck to the concession stands. A last minute decision was made to allow the fans to get their beers directly from the truck. This means they fans lined up and filled their cups with beer coming out of a hose connect to a truck. Do you understand what that looks like? It was after this that one young fan threw a roll of lit firecrackers into the Texas dugout, and the umpire ordered both bullpens evacuated.

A half full jug of Thundbird wine was thrown at Texas firstbasman Mike Hargrove, missing his head by inches. A pile of clothes in left field grew as more and more fans started streaking. A group of fans tried to remove the padding on the left field wall. The Indians' front office left the stadium, like nothing was wrong.

Then in the ninth inning, all hell broke loose. A fan leaped from the stands, ran and stole a Texas outfielder's hat. When the outfielder tried to get it back, he tripped and the entire Texas bench ran into the field armed with bats to take out their frustrations. By the time the reached the outfield, nearly 250 Clevelanders were there to meet them, armed with chains, knives, and clubs made from various items ripped from the stadium floor. As more and more fans jumped over the wall, the chaos began. The Indian's manager ordered his own players onto the field to rescue Rangers. It was an all out melee. Here's a little back and forth from the announcers:
"Hargrove has got some kid on the ground and he is really administering a beating"
"Well, the fellow came up and hit him from behind is what happened."
"Boy, Hargrove really wants a piece of him, and I don't blame him"

The players eventually made their way off the field and into the clubhouse, locking the doors behind them. More fans came onto the field and once all the bases were stolen, and the Cleveland riot squad was called in to clear the field, the game was called, and Cleveland forfeited.

American League President Lee McPhail summed it up with a great quote, "America may need a good five cent cigar, but it doesn't need ten cent beer."

Tomorrow: The Teapot Dome Scandal

3 Comments:

Blogger daniel arnold said...

thank you so much for this.

1/21/09, 9:23 PM  
Blogger Alyssa Schulte said...

This is much funnier than a dry turtle...or was it a wet turtle? Either way.

1/22/09, 7:14 AM  
Blogger mayor said...

It was a turtle that lost its moisture. So a dead turtle.

1/22/09, 10:37 AM  

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