39 years ago tonight

A 10-cent mistake at the Mistake by the Lake:  June 4, 1974

Aided by a poorly-considered purchase limit of six cups of beer at a time, many fans were already inebriated prior to first pitch, and a circus-like atmosphere prevailed. In the second inning, a woman jumped into the Indians’ on-deck circle and lifted her shirt. In the fourth, a completely naked man slid into second base while the Rangers’ Tom Grieve circled the bases after homering, and in the fifth, a father-son pair mooned the crowd after jumping over an outfield wall. Late in the game, fans climbed onto the field and pestered Rangers rightfielder Jeff Burroughs, some even shaking his hand.

Amid that chaos, Texas took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but Cleveland rallied for two runs via four consecutive hits off reliever Steve Foucault and a sacrifice fly. With two outs and two men still on base, Indians’ slugger Leron Lee (uncle of recent major leaguer Derrek Lee) never had a chance to drive in the winning run, because Cleveland fans pelted the field with golf balls, rocks and batteries, and some fan swiped Burroughs’ glove. When the rightfielder chased him back to the stands, people began swarming into the outfield, surrounding the Rangers’ star outfielder and ending any hope for the completion of the game.

Dodging several flying chairs, Texas manager Billy Martin grabbed a bat and led his team on a rescue mission to rightfield. “The bat showed up later and it was broken,” recalled Rangers player Mike Hargrove. Umpire Nestor Chylak, hit by both a chair and a rock, ruled that the game should be forfeited in favor of the Rangers. “They were just uncontrollable beasts,” said Chylak later of the crowd. “I’ve never seen anything like it except in a zoo.”

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2 Comments on 39 years ago tonight

  1. pepefreeus // June 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm //

    Billy Martin could be a real pill but it must’ve been great to know that he had your back in a situation like that.

    That was a different time. Hard to imagine something like that, Disco Demolition night or even the locust swarms that the ’69 and ’77 Series winning celebrations were, happening today.

  2. This is why we and other teams can’t have nice things like fun promotions that don’t involve homogenized corporate sponsors and country music. I went to woodstock in 94 but I’m glad I didn’t go in 99. crazy.

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