The early 1970s were the nadir of America's Rust Belt and of Baseball. Axis of Evel Knieval shows us why in a chilling anniversary post on the game when an ill-conceived promotional "Ten-Cent Beer Night" went horribly awry:
"During the first few innings, tipsy fans tossed smoke bombs and firecrackers at each other. By the second inning, a topless woman had leaped onto the field and chased down one of the umpires for an unwanted kiss; another streaker joined the Rangers’ Tom Grieve as he circled the bases following his second home run of the night; a father and son team ran into the outfield and dropped their pants. Meantime, golf balls, rocks and batteries rained down on Texas’ players throughout the game. At one point, someone heaved an empty gallon of Thunderbird wine at Rangers’s first baseman Mike Hargove. As the game neared its conclusion, the evening descended into total chaos. During the ninth inning, the Indians managed to tie the score and placed the winning run on third base. At that point, a fan ran into the outfield to steal Jeff Burroughs’ glove. When Burroughs began chasing the fan, Rangers’ manager Billy Martin, along with several of Burroughs’ teammates, rushed to help out -- several of them, including Martin, carried bats."
And if that doesn't satisfy you, another another account reveals that Billy Martin's bat showed up later, broken. Still another offers that "you could buy six cups of beer at a time, and that some 65,000 were consumed on this particular night." Futility Infielder provides some of his favorite quotes from Mike Shropshire's Seasons in Hell which sends up the whole affair in Gonzo form:
"When the game reached the bottom of the ninth inning, the temperament of the crowd became strikingly like that of Billy Martin when he reached his hour of belligerence in the cocktail lounge. What had been a largely congenial gathering turned combative. Woodstock had become Kent State."
Lord have mercy. Thank goodness I was in kindergarten then, and a Red Sox fan. Of course, we had integration busing and Bill Lee, so no one gets a free pass in that era. The "Spaceman", of course, is the one who was quoted in the Los Angeles Times three years after the beer riot as saying;
"I would change policy, bring back natural grass and nickel beer. Baseball is the belly-button of our society. Straighten out baseball, and you straighten out the rest of the world."