By Liam Syrvalin, Contributor
[Image courtesy of Homage]
Lost media is perhaps one of the most bizarre yet most fascinating phenomena to pervade the 20th and 21st centuries. The idea that someone, maybe many people, can remember and prove the existence of a particular piece of content without anyone succeeding in finding it is a strange, almost unsettling concept. The reality of the world of lost media is somewhat like an iceberg; while we know about thousands of different pieces of media that are currently lost, there’s still countless other movies, TV shows, songs and recordings that we don’t have on record and don’t even know about.
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Media can be lost deliberately due to disturbing content or government censorship, among other reasons. Usually pieces of media are lost entirely by accident. For example, according to the US Library of Congress, about 75% of all of the silent films made in the 20th century and the first three decades of the 21st century are considered lost, and will never see the light of day again. This is due to the high flammability of the film rolls used during the silent film era. Piles and pounds of historic film, up in smoke, never to be seen again. This flaw of flammability is the sole cause of so much historical and cultural loss.
The internet has also skyrocketed the popularity of this phenomenon with lost media. In recent years, communities surrounding lost media have popped up across the web in different forms. One such association of media sleuths is The Lost Media Wiki, This website hosts a community of people devoted to cataloging, finding and confirming the existence of all forms of lost media. This website and community have been my main source for finding the numerous mysteries and chronicles behind lost media, and how they can be found. These mysteries often make for great stories of every kind and are an exhilarating dive into all different facets of life.
The main purpose of writing this column is to tell these stories surrounding lost media. There are quite literally thousands of different pieces of lost media that we know about, and each separate piece of lost media has its own unique adventure surrounding it. I want to be a storyteller for these different tales and to be a spotlight for the lost media community.
With that in mind, let’s get into the inaugural entry for this column, which comes from a place I know extremely well: Cleveland, Ohio. On June 4, 1974, the Texas Rangers suited up to play the Cleveland Indians in a regular season game at Cleveland’s own Municipal Stadium, where the game was recorded. During this game, a beer promotion was held in coordination with a local Detroit brewing company in a one-day only “old-time prices” sale: 10 cents for a 12 oz, 3.2% beer. To put that into perspective, today that deal would be about 60 cents with inflation. Beer promotions similar to this one were held all over the league before June 4, 1974, without any sort of trouble occurring. However, this particular promotion seemed to have a more special ending in mind.
The attendance of the game was already something to worry about before the game started. Just over 25,000 fans showed up to Municipal Stadium, double what was expected for the day. Drinking age in Ohio at the time was 18 years old, which meant any troublemaking teenager in Northern Ohio that wanted cheap beer could go to the ballpark for prices unlike any bar. For just one dollar, you could get a ticket to the bleachers and five cups of beer. Many anecdotes from those who say they attended the game note that they weren’t even there for the game, nor did they really care for the Indians. They were there to drink, and maybe catch some Cleveland baseball as well. Some reports say that marijuana smoke filled the stands so thick it looked like fog. No matter the minor details, make no mistake: these people were absolutely trashed, and trouble was brewing.
The game kicked off to a good start for the Rangers, taking a 3-1 lead early. All the while, the beer truck serving the fans didn’t have the workforce necessary to keep up with the demand of the customers. According to an account by ESPN, the teen girls working there reportedly left the truck after it was flipped, leaving fans the keg taps for themselves. During the second inning of the game, a female fan stormed the pitch, in what would be the first of many occasions of this happening. She exposed her breasts to the crowd to thunderous applause, and then tried to kiss umpire Nestor Chylak, who said he was “not in a kissing mood.” Just two innings later, a man would try this stunt completely nude. As Tom Grieve hit his second home run of the day, the man jumped the fence and slid into second base, still entirely naked.
At the top of the fifth inning, the Rangers still led the Indians 3-1. Determined not to let the game bore the crowd, a father and son duo charged the field at the bottom of the fifth, and mooned the entirety of Municipal Stadium. The audience, already showing signs of violence, were consistently throwing items at the Rangers for several minutes, until a public address was made reminding fans not to interrupt the game. This only served to increase the amount of projectiles being thrown by Clevelanders. Firecrackers and bottles littered the Rangers dugout, and it was only a matter of time before the situation exploded.
In the ninth inning, the Indians made a rally to tie the game 5-5. Suddenly, at the climax of the game, a man ran onto the field, as per usual by this point, and flipped the cap off of outfielder Jeff Burrough’s head. Burrough went to confront the fan, but tripped over his own feet and fell to the ground. The Rangers manager and bench assumed that the cap-flipper had pushed the outfielder down, and ran brandishing bats to deliver retribution. They discovered Burrough was not injured, but it was far too late. The crowd charged the field, carrying knives fashioned from seat pieces, chains, and clubs.
The Rangers were quickly outnumbered by the amount of angry drunks now ready to do serious harm to the team. They probably would have been much more seriously hurt, had the Indians general manager Ken Aspromonte not ordered his team to take up bats and defend the Rangers. Dozens of armed professional athletes convinced the majority of the crowd to turn to the outfield and get out. Taking their only foreseen chance to get out alive, the athletes ran towards the tunnels, treating injuries as necessary. With the players gone, the battle ensued for another 20 minutes before the Cleveland SWAT team was able to control the situation. Consequently, the game was called off due to the mass riot, a close call with a hunting knife for umpire Nestor Chylak and the fact that there were no more bases to even play with.
All footage taken of the event was not released, and very little has surfaced. Rumors still float that the MLB holds the entirety of the footage still, with no plans for it to see the light of day.
It’s possible that the game was broadcast on television, however, it’s unlikely, as only about one game per week was broadcast live during this time. The game was much more likely to be broadcast via radio, but no records or recordings of it exist. It’s more likely that the full video recording of the game exists somewhere, as there isn’t any listed source for whoever found the footage. This points to the possibility that the League really does hold the footage away somewhere, yet will not release it.
It seems like Ten Cent Beer Night is a subconscious tale that exists within every resident of Northeast Ohio. It is a story that captures the essence of Clevelanders at their worst, and at their most unhinged. At the center of the story, though, is the spirit of the entire city. The Clevelander mindset starts with feeling like you’ve been screwed by the world, combined with liberal doses of self-hatred. Drinking heavily and taking it out physically on professional sports teams is something that almost fits into the culture of the city. And, honestly, that’s just a feeling and a culture you can’t shake in Northeast Ohio.