Baseball fans can get a little crazy. From transforming an out into a home run to throwing the game for the home team to straight-up rioting, beer plus ballpark can equal some pretty bad behavior in the bleachers. See Exhibits A through E here.
10 Cent Beer Night (June 4th, 1974) How did people not know this was gonna be trouble? In an effort to boost attendance, Cleveland Stadium offered beer at 10 cents a pop, down from the usual 65. During the ninth inning, after the Indians tied the game, a drunk fan ran down and tried to steal Jeff Burroughs’ cap. Billy Martin thought he was being attacked, as did the rest of the Rangers’ dugout, who emerged with bats. Cleveland fans took the field en masse with knives, chains and parts of the stadium seating they’d torn apart. Tim Russert, late anchor of Meet The Press was there that night and would often slyly mention that he arrived with “Two dollars in my pocket. You do the math.”
Disco Demolition Night (July 12, 1979) Few cultural fads have had quite the backlash disco did. It culminated in Disco Demolition night, a Comiskey Park promotion during a double header between the Tigers and the White Sox. A local radio station urged fans to bring disco records for destruction between the games. After this bizarre rock and roll book burning, fans mobbed the field, ripping up sod. The whole event resulted in 39 arrests for disorderly conduct. Umpires forfeited the second game to the Tigers. Mike Veeck, son of owner Bill Veeck, came up with the great idea and was blacklisted from baseball as a result. It’s the last forfeited game in MLB history.
Jeff Maier (October 9th, 1996) Nothing will ruin your ALCS faster than some punk kid stealing a ball you’re about to catch. Maier did just that to Tony Tarasco, snatching a Derek Jeter fly ball to deep right. Umpire Rich Garcia ruled the play a home run over the protests of the Orioles. The Yankees went on to win that game, that series and the World Series, Maier made the talk show circuit and Jeter was considered even more of a douche by opposing fans. Maier later played some college ball but never cracked the pros. We imagine Tarasco, now the minor league coordinator for the Washington Nationals, didn’t give him a look.
Steve Bartman (October 14, 2003) Bartman is the Bill Buckner of Cubs lore. During Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, this Cubs fan reached out to grab a foul ball with Moises Alou in hot pursuit. Bartman deflected the ball, helping prevent the catch. (Alou later said that he wouldn’t have caught it anyway.) The Marlins put eight runs up in that inning, the Cubs lost the series, and Bartman was a marked man. Death threats have forced him to go into semi-hiding, pretty much ruining his life. The ball itself was later destroyed by a man who paid over $100,000 for the privilege. And as you may know, the Cubs still haven’t won a World Series since 1908.
Bartman and Maier in One Night? (October 19, 2010) In 2010, Yankee Stadium was home to both a Bartman moment and a Maier moment in Game 4 of the ALCS. First, a Yankees fan reached out and nabbed a ball as it bounced off the wall, apparently giving the finger to Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz after doing so. Later in the game, a Yankees fan Bartman’ed (can that be a thing now?) a ball that Brett Gardner totally could have caught. Fortunately for the fan, the Rangers didn’t go on to score eight runs that inning. But the Yanks did lose the game and the series.