A drunken riot at a baseball game. Naked fans storming the field. Firecracker attacks. An ocean of ridiculously cheap lager. In Cleveland, Ohio, they called it Ten Cent Beer Night. Municipal Waste decided to record a song under the same name.
Richmond thrashers Municipal Waste don’t usually write songs about historical events, but they have plenty of drinking songs based on true stories. Their latest album, Electrified Brain, out July 1, 2022, combines the two concepts in boozy crossover fashion on “Ten Cent Beer Night.”
“I learned about Ten Cent Beer Night from an ESPN documentary,” Waste vocalist Tony Foresta tells CREEM. “The funny thing is, it happened at Cleveland Municipal Stadium."
The story goes like this: It’s June 4, 1974. The Texas Rangers are in Cleveland to play the Indians. (The Indians were renamed the Guardians in 2022.) More than 25,000 fans are crammed into Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Six days earlier, the same teams played in Texas—where the game escalated into a brawl. It ended with Rangers fans pelting the Cleveland players with food and beer. Indians catcher Dave Duncan had to be restrained from charging the stands.
Before the teams left Texas, a reporter asked Rangers’ manager Billy Martin if he was worried about crowd retaliation in Cleveland. “Nah, they won’t have enough fans there to worry about,” he quipped. It was theoretically true: the Indians sucked that year, and hardly anyone was turning up to the games. But some genius in the C-suite came up with a brilliant idea to get butts in the seats: Ten Cent Beer Night, which is exactly what it sounds like. Fans could treat themselves to unlimited 12-ounce drafts for 10 cents a pop. What could possibly go wrong?
“It sparked a big response with Clevelanders,” Foresta says with a laugh. “Basically, hilarity ensued.” Indeed, the fact that country singer and comedian Ray Stevens’ “The Streak” had been number one on the charts for three weeks running proved prescient. First, a woman ran onto the field, flashed her boobs, and tried to kiss the umpire. He wasn’t having it. Then a naked dude sprinted out and slid into second base with shocking disregard for his own undercarriage. Not to be outdone, a father-and-son duo charged the outfield and mooned the bleachers.
“At one point, the beer lines got so long that people flipped the tables at the concession stands and started serving themselves straight out of the beer trucks,” Foresta explains. “And then they started throwing firecrackers into the Rangers dugout, which seems like such a Cleveland move. When I started playing hardcore shows in Cleveland, there would always be a fireworks display indoors.”
And then they started throwing firecrackers into the Rangers dugout, which seems like such a Cleveland move
By the ninth inning, the stadium looked like a warzone. The combined smoke of the firecrackers and copious amounts of weed created a thick haze over the ballpark. Rangers first baseman Mike Hargrove was pummeled with hot dogs and narrowly missed by an empty jug of Thunderbird. All the sober fans went home. Only the drunks—thousands of them—remained. And they were surly as fuck.
Yet another fan crashed the game, this time in an attempt to steal Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs’ cap. During the exchange, Burroughs tripped and fell. Martin, thinking his player has been attacked, rushed the field with the rest of the Rangers behind him. In response, hundreds of Cleveland fans also stormmed the field—many armed with chains, knives, and clubs they fashioned from seats they’ve already destroyed.
Nobody’s trying to watch somebody get killed, you know?
When 200 fans surrounded 25 Rangers, Cleveland manager Ken Aspromonte told his team to grab bats and help defend the Texas players against the bloodthirsty crowd. The Indians then attacked their own fans, and the two previously warring teams fought their way out side by side. “As much as the Indians hated the Rangers, it was clear someone was gonna die if they didn’t intervene,” Foresta points out. “Nobody’s trying to watch somebody get killed, you know?”
Luckily, nobody was killed. The cops arrived, swinging batons and spraying tear gas. Somehow, only nine fans were arrested. Municipal Stadium suffered plenty of damage. Three bases were stolen, never to be seen again. Last but not least, the Indians forfeited the game to the Rangers. The punchline, though? Cleveland held another Ten Cent Beer Night six weeks later—this time, with a two beer limit.