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EP328: The Story Of Benjamin Franklin's Longest Lasting Persona and The Cleveland Indians' The “Ten Cent Beer Night” Riot

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 30, 2022 3:05 am

EP328: The Story Of Benjamin Franklin's Longest Lasting Persona and The Cleveland Indians' The “Ten Cent Beer Night” Riot

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 30, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, we hear about how the 25-year publication started out of a need when someone pulled their publication and turned into an international phenomenon... which Mark Twain HATED! The History Guy tells how on June 4, 1974, in Cleveland, trouble was a brewin', the bleachers were loaded, and there was a distinct buzz in the air.

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Time Codes:

00:00 - The Story Of Benjamin Franklin's Longest Lasting Persona

37:00 - The Cleveland Indians' The “Ten Cent Beer Night” Riot

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Hispanic heritage is magic. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show. From the arts to sports and from business to history and everything in between, including your stories.

Send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. And this next story is about Benjamin Franklin. And you're about to, well, learn more about one of his most famous publications.

Here's Robbie. You've probably heard of Poor Richard's Almanac. You definitely know the effects of eating an apple a day. But where did it all come from? Here's Benjamin Franklin personator Mitchell Kramer.

Well, it really is purely practical. You know, he's got a printing house in Philadelphia and he's got a rival, Andrew Bradford. It's the early 1730s, so he's had his printing press for a few years.

He's printing other people's almanacs. The one that's really specific is Thomas Godfrey, because Thomas Godfrey is an actual friend of his. And he gets into this weird fight with Godfrey.

And it's really a silly fight. Head librarian of the library company, Jim Green. Franklin and Godfrey were close friends, so close that he invited Godfrey and his wife and children to live with him. This was all fine, but Franklin realized he needed a wife. Now, it happened that Mrs. Godfrey had a relative who was looking for a husband, and she decided to act as a matchmaker. She brought them together.

The girls' parents approved and they began to court seriously. But when the parents found out how much money Franklin wanted as a dowry, they withdrew their support. He suspected them of trying to trick him out of paying it by leading him on till he was too engaged to pull back. Franklin got mad, broke off the engagement, and quarreled with the Godfrees, who moved out of his house. Even so, Godfrey continued to publish his almanacs with Franklin until, in July of 1732, he published a story in his newspaper that pretended to be fiction, but was really a relation of exactly what had happened with Mrs. Godfrey.

It took this thing that had been a private affair and made it completely public. Godfrey was so embarrassed that in the fall came time for another almanac. He took it to a rival printer instead.

Andrew Bradford. So he just does it to sort of, well, I was all set to print an almanac, but I lost the contract, so I'll just write one myself. He does that first one, and it's not great.

And he gets it out late. Most of the almanacs come out in November. His first printing doesn't come out until the end of December. He makes a mistake. He transposes two months.

So October appears as September, and September isn't October, so it's not even that good. But he does something that makes it really popular, and it's really clever, and it becomes sort of the key to poor Richard's success, to this persona, which is the one-page preface at the beginning of it, in which he introduces this character of poor Richard. Franklin impersonator Brian Patrick Mulligan. The plain truth of the matter is, I am excessive poor, and my wife, Good Woman, is, I tell you, excessive proud. She cannot bear, and had threatened more than once, to burn all my books and rattling traps, as she calls my instruments, if I do not make some profitable use of them for the good of my family. So, one of the appeals of poor Richard and his wife, Bridget, was the ongoing relationship. People would come back year after year to read about what's going on with poor Richard.

It was similar to following a soap opera. Because what he does is he says, in the persona of poor Richard, I'm an astrologer. So he's going to use this to make fun, he's going to use this persona of an astrologer, this old, poor, silly astrologer, to make fun of astrology in his almanac. So he says, to prove my worth as an astrologer, I'm going to make a prediction. That prediction was the death of rival almanacer Titan Leeds.

And that would have been it. People think it's funny, and it would have just been at the end of it, except the following year, Titan Leeds, the man whose death he has predicted, makes the terrible mistake of engaging in it, of putting in his almanac, I'm not dead. Which is, of course, exactly what Franklin wants. He's created a fake rivalry, and Titan Leeds has completely fallen for it. And so in his next issue, he says, you know, are you sure you're not dead?

Basically, and I mean, I'm pretty sure you're dead. He sort of uses the almanac to create a persona, to start a joke, and to tease his competitors, all in this little one-page preface. And that's what people love, and that's what sort of becomes his almanac's best feature, is this little preface that he creates. When Titan Leeds actually dies, he says, well, I was just off. Because eventually, Titan Leeds dies. Five years after he's predicted his death, Leeds dies. And they write in Leeds' almanac that Leeds has died, but he's provided the printer with enough information to keep printing almanacs for years to come.

So Franklin says, oh, well, you see what happened? He died years ago, and they've just been printing the almanacs, just as I said. And then he writes a letter that purports to be from Titan Leeds written to poor Richard, who, of course, doesn't exist. But poor Richard claims that the letter comes to him in a dream and that he wrote it himself. And, of course, the printer of the Titan Leeds almanac can't do anything about it because Leeds is dead. So he's now actually taking the character of this other almanac, who he's been in this little, this fake rivalry with, and he's now usurped him and taken him into a character of his own. And when we come back, more American history.

Poor Richard's Almanac. The story here on our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

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Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we return to our American stories and to the story of Benjamin Franklin's poor Richard's almanac, the characters he's created and the aphorisms that we quote even today. Remember, the persona of poor Richard is the writer, the author, the almanac creator, whereas Franklin is the printer. And so Richard will say things like after it starts selling well, his character, his persona of poor Richard will say, people ask me why I still go by poor Richard now that my almanac is selling well and I have to tell you that the fact is my printer gets most of the money, but don't, you know, get angry at him.

He's a great guy and he deserves it. But of course, this is poor Richard talking about Franklin. So he's now, this is one of the things people really love is when he starts to get into conversations about himself from a third person point of view. And then he does it in one issue, he goes even further and he writes the preface not as poor Richard, but as poor Richard's wife, Bridget Saunders. And Bridget Saunders, like many of Franklin's women personas, is even more interesting and in many ways more fleshed out as a person than Richard Saunders, than poor Richard. So now in one preface, this is one of the funniest of the prefaces, he is writing as Bridget Saunders talking about Richard Saunders and she mentions something that Richard Saunders said about Franklin. So he's now sort of taking it to a third point of view.

It's very clever. It's again, it's this idea of satire as in we're all in on the joke. And because we're all in on the joke and because it's from an American point of view, it's this common man's point of view as opposed to trying to be haughty and literary, which is what people did then. This idea of the writer as being sort of above it all is very typical, but Franklin's characters are just the everyman.

Obviously by the time the final printing comes along, it's a very different story. This one-page preface has now become a 12-page really essay all to its own in the 18th century idea of essays in which they would be stand-alone little books that people would buy. And eventually that final essay will become his best-selling stand-alone little book.

But in those early days, it's really about, I think he must have had a lot of fun with it. And then of course he also happens to be a really good writer. So he's able to take the little aphorism, the little proverbs, and just make them better, make them more clever, make them read better. You know, when it needs to be a little longer, he'll make it a little longer. When it needs to be really short and brief, he'll make them shorter.

You know, time is money. That's a great little proverb. And then of course when he needs to add a joke, especially rhyming jokes, he'll throw in some rhymes or sing songs. The reason Poor Richard's Almanac is still known today is because of these maxims.

Because they're not topical jokes about current affairs. They're timeless and practical maxims. You know, such as, keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards. And your high school English teacher's favorite.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. And he stuck them into the almanac. But he did something else that was even more unusual, which is he put them in and amongst the calendar information, the weather predictions or all this kind of weather data, he scattered the words of the aphorisms among all that and made them just a little bit hard to find.

It was a sort of where is Waldo type of thing. So early to bed, early to rise could take up a whole four inch column with the words scattered a few in this line, none in the next two lines of astrological symbols, three words in the next line, so he got it all in. Which means at first you wouldn't even notice the aphorisms.

But once you caught on and noticed there was one of them on every calendar page or two or three even, it became kind of a game to find them and to read them. But Franklin's proverbs became a joke. You know, people made fun of all the proverbs. They teased him for it.

It was considered a very low form of literature. But he sees it as something that is sort of relatable to the common man. And yeah, on one hand, he's doing that on purpose to make himself sell more almanacs. But on the other hand, he really believes it. He can just be sort of positive and use these proverbs to allow ordinary people to maybe improve their life. Because he's very practical in a lot of ways. There's this great quote of his late in life where he says, I know he's so quotable, I have tried in everything I have undertaken to serve the benefit of mankind. And he totally means it. He's completely honest about it. He really wants to make the world a better place.

And he actually finds himself with the ability to do it. Paul Richards' almanac was getting a buzz. It was this new and interesting, witty thing. In future years, the reputation of the almanac spread, which was fairly unusual. Almanacs were typically printed for a particular latitude.

But that didn't seem to stop Paul Richards. It was found everywhere. While not the top-selling almanac, it had reach that few could rival. Its legacy spread throughout the colonies and even beyond. Its infamy crossed the Atlantic and found its way to France, making an appearance in the American Revolution. King Louis of France gave a ship to our Navy commander, John Paul Jones, and the ship was called Bonhomme Richard. Following the time of the American Revolution, three other ships have borne the name Bonhomme Richard, or Good Man Richard.

I believe in some form or other I shall always exist. Franklin has been remembered sometimes by ship and sometimes by T-shirt. You know, the one that's on every T-shirt, the way they put it on the T-shirt, beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, but of course he never said that, and the original quote is from a letter. He's in France, and he's writing in French, and he makes this little joke at the end of the letter. He says, well, I know that God loves us because he created the fruit of the vine.

But he's saying it in French, and somehow that quote is, you see it on T-shirts all the time, but it's always a misquote. While Franklin initially railed against indulgence, his love for the finer things in life eventually came out. Well, he stops making fun of being fat. In the early proverbs, I mean, specifically talking about the little adages, the little aphorisms, he definitely talks a lot about health in the early issues because he was very health conscious.

Of course, as he gets older, he becomes much less health conscious and stops making fun of that. The one I really like is in beer there is truth, in wine there is wisdom, and in water there is bacteria. I think that's a funny one. Another one that's a favorite of mine is a country man between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats. Genius is nothing more than a greater aptitude for patience. Dr. H.W.

Brands. But with Franklin, you could always see that he had his tongue in his cheek and he had a wink in his eye. And so when people would read these, they would realize, ah, okay. It was not exactly the Saturday Night Live of that time, but it served some of the same purpose. It was designed to entertain even as it educated. And what great storytelling about Poor Richard's Almanac. And my goodness, what wit, what wisdom, and what a mind that Franklin had to create such an entertainment property, self-promoter to the end, and just a sort of quintessential American entrepreneur sort of making fun of himself, if not directly, most certainly indirectly.

And then we come back, the last installment of the story of Poor Richard's Almanac, here on Our American Stories. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

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Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. My family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back.

Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue with our American stories and we're back with the end of Benjamin Franklin's 25-year publication of poor Richard's almanac and its legacy. But after 25 years, Franklin decided it was time to call it quits. He was on a ship crossing in the ocean and he had a lot of time on his hands, so he did a very clever thing. He must have brought copies of all 25 almanacs with him and he went through them and copied out all the aphorisms that he thought were most useful as opposed to being just funny or snarky the way so many of them were. He grouped them all together and arranged them in a speech which later was called The Weight of Wealth.

But in its first form, which was in the 1758 almanac, it had no title at all. It was just The Preface. And The Preface was signed Richard Saunders. And it starts by saying, I have heard that nothing gives an author so great a pleasure to have his works respectively quoted by other learned authors.

And this in itself was funny to people who had been reading poor Richard's Prefaces for so long and thought he was sort of a dope. Richard Saunders goes on to say that he was in the market the other day and there was this guy called Father Abraham. So Father Abraham gives this speech in which he strings together various adages of poor Richard.

And these are the ones that pertain to how one will succeed, the sort of things that any young man who wants to make a success out of himself, the way Benjamin Franklin made a success out of himself, should follow. Richard says, you can imagine how gratified I was. He quotes the whole speech. If you'll have my advice, I'll give it to you, says Father Abraham, for a word to the wise is enough and many words will not fill a bushel, as poor Richard says. The joke here is Richard is thrilled to have his works, as he's now calling them, being quoted by other learned authors, or rather this old man who is haranguing the crowd in the marketplace. And they just go one after another, as poor Richard says, as poor Richard says, as poor Richard says, like the blows of a hammer after every one of the dozens of aphorisms.

And at the end of it, poor Richard says that everyone listened very respectfully and then went home and forgot all about it. So the weight of wealth was a kind of recycling of the aphorisms, but it was also putting them to a new purpose. Franklin actually did feel that his aphorisms could benefit people, that some of them, the ones that had some moral weight to them, should be preserved.

So he brought the best of them all together and gave them a frame with Father Abraham. The original almanac was pretty ephemeral, but almost immediately it was republished separately under the title Father Abraham's Speech, and in that form it became a sort of viral bestseller. It was reprinted several times in the 1750s and 60s under that title, and then Franklin sort of took it back and revised it, pruning away most of the aphorisms except the ones that dealt with industry and frugality. And then he reissued it under a new title called The Weight of Wealth, and in that form it became a worldwide bestseller. It was translated into 20 languages and had been published in almost every printing press in Europe and America. So no one reads poor Richard's almanac anymore, but The Weight of Wealth is still in print.

It has been ever since the 1770s. So part of the reputation that Franklin got for being a preachy, penny-pinching nag was because of the popularity of this new Weight of Wealth, which in its emphasis on industry and frugality was really quite different from the original that began in the almanac in 1758. Over the years, generation after generation of American school kids would be introduced to poor Richard through Father Abraham. And if you read Franklin, if you read poor Richard simply through Father Abraham, you would tend to think that this is a pretty serious guy. And in fact, certain Americans who would become famous took issue with the idea that they had to read Father Abraham and the Maxims of poor Richard, and one was Mark Twain. And Mark Twain loudly complained in print about how much he hated Benjamin Franklin because the Franklin that he was introduced to was the Franklin of this early-to-betterly-to-rise stuff. And the young Mark Twain didn't like the idea of that at all. Benjamin Franklin did a great many noble things for this country. It is not the idea of this memoir to ignore that or to cover it up.

No. The simple idea of it is to snub those pretentious Maxims, which he worked up with a great show of originality in, coming from truisms that had to become wearisome platitudes as early as the dispersion from a babble. But Franklin was pitching it to a different audience. And Mark Twain sort of understood that there was more to Franklin. You know, there's a wonderful portrait print engraving of Franklin that was made in France in 1777, where he's wearing his famous bifocals and his fur cap, which had become his trademarks in Paris and made him instantly recognizable to everybody in Paris. In the picture, the bifocals are a little bit crooked on his nose, so one eye is looking through one part of one lens and the other eye is looking through the other part of the other lens. So his eyes are a little bit distorted. And that print has become a symbol, not just for me, but for a lot of people trying to figure out what Franklin was up to.

With this bifocal vision, you see him and he sees you in two very different ways at the same time. And so, yes, he was this great and powerful man who was really making the world a better place. I mean, he was winning the American Revolution for us. But he's also somebody that was very approachable, a solid citizen with a well-run life, a very pleasant, almost smug kind of guy. His manipulation of his own image toward the end of his life, when he was our ambassador in France and then later as a framer of the Constitution, was very, very skillful.

I mean, there's nobody in that age who was as good at the sort of PR aspect of being a public person, except possibly George Washington, who did it in a totally different way. So I guess that's why it's very dangerous to say, this is what Franklin was trying to do, or this is how he wanted us to see him. I think you always need to put on your own bifocals when you look at Franklin.

And great job by Robbie on that piece. And we'd like to thank the contributors as well, Franklin historians and impersonators Mitch Kramer and Brian Patrick Mulligan, and H.W. Brands, the Jack S. Blanton Senior Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin.

And that last voice you heard was Jim Green, head librarian of the Library Company of Philadelphia, America's first successful lending library founded by Benjamin Franklin himself. And we'll close with just a few aphorisms, some of the best from poor Richard's almanac. Diligence is the mother of good luck. One today is worth two tomorrows. Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it is. Virtue and a trade are a child's best portion. Necessity never made a good bargain. Words may show a man's wit, actions his meaning.

Many have quarreled about religion that never practiced it. The wise man draws more advantage from his enemies than the fool from his friends. And by the way, I love that one that has to get mentioned again that one of the contributors mentioned earlier. A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats. Poor Richard's almanac. In a way, it's Benjamin Franklin's story told through a window, perhaps his masterwork, his greatest conceit, and perhaps the greatest reflection of his personality and the personality of his home country, his new country, and the new nation he helped birth.

Poor Richard Almanac's story, here on Our American Stories. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit uhcmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes, and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. My family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back.

Watch us All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. This is Our American Stories, and we tell stories about everything here on this show. Our next story comes to us from a man who is simply known as the History Guy.

His videos are watched by hundreds of thousands of people of all ages on YouTube. The History Guy is also heard here at Our American Stories. The June 4, 1974 night game between the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Indians was one for the record books.

Trouble was a-brewin', the bleachers were loaded, and there was a distinct buzz in the air. Here's the History Guy with that story of the Ten-Cent Beer Night Riot. 1974 was a depressing news year in the United States. President Richard Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate scandal, which would eventually force him to resign in November, the first U.S. president to do so. The United States economy was in a deep recession, the result of double-digit inflation and the ongoing energy crisis.

Patricia Hearst, the granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped in February and by April had claimed that she had joined her captors cause, leading to nightly news stories. And on June 4th, in the event that perhaps best defined the trying times of the day, beer was too cheap in Cleveland, Ohio. It is history that deserves to be remembered. It was Tuesday, June 4th, and the Texas Rangers were playing a night game at Cleveland Stadium, the first of a three-game series.

When configured for baseball, the stadium seated 74,400 fans, making it the largest in professional baseball in 1974. But Cleveland was a struggling city. Noted for its river pollution, the Cuyahoga River through the city was famous for literally catching fire.

One such fire in 1969 had caught the attention of the nation via Time Magazine, prompting the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Cleveland area had been a flashpoint for anti-Vietnam War sentiment after shootings by the National Guard at nearby Kent State University in 1970. The city was in financial difficulty, crime was on the rise.

In 1962 there had been 59 murders in Cleveland, in 1972 there were 333. The city had a difficult reputation and people were leaving in droves. The city lost roughly 177,000 inhabitants between 1970 and 1980. And the Cleveland Indians simply weren't very good. They finished at the bottom of the American League East in 1973, and weren't doing much better in 1974.

Commentator Paul Jackson of ESPN said of them, The 74 Indians were a smorgasbord of mediocre and forgettable talent, playing in an open-air mausoleum. It had become difficult to fill the massive 74,400 seat stadium. On May 13th, a mere 4,234 had showed up on a chilly night for a game against Boston. On average, 85% of the stadium's tickets went unsold. But the game against Texas on the muggy night June 4th attracted a respectable 25,134 crowd. Twice what was expected.

The reason? Cheap beer. The club was running a promotion. 12 fluid ounce cups of Stroh's 3.2% beer for just 10 cents each. There was a limit of six beers per purchase, but no limit on the number of purchases made during the game. Bud Tucker, a columnist for the Independent Press Telegram of Long Beach, California, quipped, As a Frenchman is inspired by fine wine or Russian by classic vodka, so does a Clevelander react to 10 cent beer. The late Tim Russert, known for being the long-time moderator of the show Meet the Press, was 24 at the time and attended the game. In a statement that perhaps defined much of the crowd that night, he said, I had $2 in my pocket.

You do the math. Perhaps there was more going on that night than cheap beer. It was particularly hot and muggy. The long date caught the college age crowd just as they were coming home for summer, and as Anthony Kastrovic of MLB.com noted in 2014, it was a full moon that night. In fact, witnesses note that much of the crowd seemed to have not waited for the cheap beer, and many seemed to have arrived already drunk or high. And for some reason, they also showed up with their pockets stuffed with firecrackers. The crowd started throwing them before the game even started, and they continued throughout. The rowdiness may have had something to do with the team's last meeting a week earlier, on May 29th in Arlington, which had had a bench emptying brawl during the eighth inning of what would be a Rangers 3-0 victory. Rangers fans had thrown beer and food at the Indians team as they were returning to the dugout. The Indians were furious. Catcher Dave Duncan had to be restrained to keep him from going into the stands to brawl with the crowd. Indian second baseman Jay Brohammer, who had been at the bottom of the pile, promised revenge.

Rangers manager Billy Martin added to the fuel. After the game, a Cleveland reporter asked him if he was afraid of fans retaliating in Cleveland. He responded, nah, they don't have enough fans to worry about. Cleveland media kept the city riled over the course of the next week.

Brohammer was quoted as saying that he had cooled down and wasn't looking for a fight. Instead, he hoped to get revenge by winning all three games of the upcoming series. The Cleveland fans, on the other hand, might have been making plans of their own. Texas quickly cooked the lead in the second inning after a home run by outfielder Tom Greve. But a buzz was in the air, or rather, in the crowd. Theater the second inning, a woman hopped the fence, ran over to the Indians on deck circle, ripped off her shirt, bearing her breast to the raucous approval of the crowd, and then tried to kiss the umpire. Amazingly, it wasn't the weirdest thing that would happen that night, nor the only act of exhibitionism. The fun was not all good-natured. Not only was the crowd throwing firecrackers and keeping the grounds crew busy throwing garbage onto the field, but when Rangers pitcher Fergie Jenkins got hit in the stomach with a line drive, the crowd started chanting, hit him again. Meanwhile, the beer kept flowing. Unable to keep up, the vendors reportedly gave up trying to check IDs and started filling up whatever container was handed to them. This has been a night of wasted stupidity.

19-year-old fan Terry Yurkick recalled, I had a big dog and sons mug, maybe 32 ounces, looked like a mini keg. Another witness said that as the crowd, which he described as notably younger and longer haired than usual, grew progressively more drunk, there were some antics every half inning or so. Young fans ran into the field and dodged security. When Greve hit a second home run in the fourth, extending the Rangers lead to 5-1, a naked man ran into the field and slid into second base. Now there's another group of morons running around in the outfield.

In the fifth inning, a father-son team jumped onto the field and boomed the crowd. Another streaker ran across the field carrying his clothes with him but still wearing his left sock. As he approached the fence, he threw his clothes over, planning his escape. The crowd could see what he could not.

A Cleveland police officer was on the other side of the fence, catching both the clothes and the offender. The game had to be halted in the sixth, as the crowd was throwing firecrackers into the bullpen. The retired Nestor Shylak cleared the bullpen but was trying to let play continue. Fans were no longer just throwing beer at firecrackers, but also rocks, batteries and any part of the stadium that wasn't bolted down. A group of fans started trying to tug the padding off the left field wall, drawing the grounds crew away from picking up the growing pile of trash that was landing on the field. Despite the antics, the game continued and Cleveland managed to tie the game at 5-all in the bottom of the ninth, with two out and the winning run on second. 19-year-old Terry Yurkik, the fan with the dogs and suds mug, decided that he wanted a souvenir.

It's not a good decision. He jumped the fence, ran up behind Texas outfielder Jeff Burrows and grabbed his hat. There's some controversy regarding what happened next. According to Yurkik, Burrows kicked him. But because of the slope of the diamond from the Rangers' dugout, all Billy Martin could see was Burrows' legs and it looked like he'd been knocked down. More fans were climbing onto the field and Martin thought, Jeff was out there all by himself. He focused on knives and other things, we just couldn't let our teammate get beat up. He ordered his team onto the field, carrying bats to protect Burrows.

It was not a good decision. Seeing the Rangers leave the dugout sparked the already riled and inebriated mob. Fans stormed the field, greatly outnumbering the players. Now it's a full-scale riot. There has to be 200 people and more coming on the field.

Martin recalled, now I know how the people of the Alamo felt. The crowd was carrying knives, chains, clubs made from stadium seats. Stadium security was overwhelmed, although it's hard to see what they could have done in any case.

And no one had considered asking for a greater police presence. Seeing the melee and Rangers players being injured, Asper Monte ordered the Indians onto the field. Marlboro has got some kid on the ground and he is really administering the beating.

Well, of course, filling him up a little from behind is what happened. The two teams who had been fighting each other so recently made common cause against the mob. Now this is absolute tragedy. I have never seen anything as disgusting as this.

I haven't either. Outnumbered, they fought their way back to the dugouts and retreated into the locker rooms behind locked doors. Shylak, bleeding from a cut on his head from a thrown bottle, called the game as soon as the players made it inside.

He said he didn't do it earlier for fear it would spark retaliation against the players. The game was called a forfeit, going into the record books as a 9-0 loss for the Indians. Fans kept rioting, stealing everything they could take, including, literally, stealing the stadium's bases.

So really, the organist played take me out to the ball game. Director of stadium operations Dan Zerbe ordered the lights shut off and the Cleveland police arrived in restored order. They turned the lights out, everybody is gone except for 15 teenagers standing on top of the Rangers dugout, chanting for the Rangers to come out and fight. And so I went up there and asked them, what are you trying to prove?

Because the Rangers are gone. So some kid behind another one reaches out and punches me right in the jaw. He didn't even stagger me, he hit like a girl. Despite the apparent violence, there were no serious injuries and less than a dozen arrests.

Area hospitals reported seven people treated and released. Tencent Beer Night perhaps summed up well in a dismal decade for Cleveland and their baseball team. The prospects for both would eventually improve, but not really until the 1990s. And you've been listening to the history guy tell, well, just a great American story. Not a good one, but boy, a great one. And my goodness, I love what Tim Russert, the former host of Meet the Press said, I had $2 in my pocket. You do the math. The story of the Tencent Beer Night riot in Cleveland, here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 07:23:57 / 2023-02-16 07:41:23 / 17

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