John Adams (drummer)
John Adams banging his drum on May 28, 2012
|Known for||Dedicated fan of the Cleveland Indians|
John Adams (born 1951) is a dedicated fan of the Cleveland Indians, a Major League Baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. Adams has played his bass drum in the bleacher seats during nearly every Indians home game since 1973, which has brought him notoriety and recognition from the Indians and other organizations. The Indians now pay for two season tickets for Adams and his drum, he has been involved in two ceremonial first pitches, and he is the only fan for whom the Indians have dedicated a bobblehead day.
Adams first drummed at an Indians game on August 24, 1973, at Cleveland Stadium, at a game in which the Indians beat the Texas Rangers, 11–5. Adams, who was 21 years old at the time, has stated that he brought his bass drum to that first game because he wanted to add to the noise of "seat banging", a tradition at Cleveland Stadium in which fans would bang the swivel seat of their chairs against the chair's base during tense moments in the game. But Adams preferred to sit in the bleachers, where there were no seats to bang.
During the game, Bob Sudyk, a reporter for the Cleveland Press, interviewed Adams and asked if he was going to drum again at the following game. Adams said no, but Sudyk wrote in his article that he would. According to Adams, "not to make a liar out of Bob, I showed up with my drum, and then I came to the next game and the next game and the next game." The Indians' promotions director at the time, Jackie York, also approached Adams and asked him to play at every game. Adams formally declined but continued to attend games with his drum.
Ever since, Adams has sat in the highest bleacher seat in left-center field with his bass drum; as of August 2013[update] he has missed only 38 home games in more than 40 seasons. Adams played at Cleveland Stadium until October 1993, when the Indians played their last game there. Next spring he moved with the team to its new ballpark, Jacobs Field (renamed Progressive Field in 2008). Adams played the drum at his 3,000th game on April 27, 2011. During his tenure, he has witnessed Indians pitcher Len Barker pitch a perfect game on May 15, 1981, and witnessed the Indians play in the 1995 and 1997 World Series.
Adams still uses the same 26-inch-wide bass drum he began with in 1973. He has stated that he bought it as part of a set for $25 at a garage sale. It has the same head on the side of the drum that Adams does not beat, but Adams has stated that he replaces the other side about twice a year and also goes through about three sets of mallets each year. During games, Adams tends to drum at particular moments: when the Indians take the field at the beginning of the game, if the Indians have runners in scoring position, if the Indians are tied or trailing near the end of the game, or if they are winning at the top of the ninth inning. Because of his drumming, Adams became a celebrity and his drum was soon nicknamed Big Chief Boom-Boom, by Indians radio announcer Herb Score. It has also helped him meet politicians, including U.S. senators and a Pakistani government official.
Adams has been recognized by the Cleveland Indians and other organizations for his long commitment to the team. On October 4, 2007, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Indians' first game in the 2007 American League Division Series, against the New York Yankees. After Adams drummed at his 3,000th game on April 27, 2011, the Indians celebrated it the following Saturday, on April 30, 2011, by incorporating Adams in the ceremonial first pitch and putting on a pregame parade featuring Adams' fellow Indians fans carrying bongos, snares and plastic toy drums. For the ceremonial first pitch, Adams swung at the ball with his drum from home plate after it was thrown by former Indians player Joe Charboneau. Soon after the move to Jacobs Field, Cleveland began a record-breaking run of sellouts, which ended at 455 games in April 2001.[lower-alpha 1] Soon after, the Indians retired the number 455 in honor of their fans and Adams helped unveil the commemorative sign.
Adams once paid for his tickets (one for himself, and one for his drum), but the Indians now pay for two of his season tickets in honor of the contributions he has made to the ballpark atmosphere. Adams buys an additional two season tickets. In 2006, after a game against the Yankees, the Indians gave out bobblehead dolls depicting Adams, making him the only fan for whom the team has dedicated a bobble head day.
In 2008, he won the Hilda Award, which is awarded annually by The Baseball Reliquary "to recognize distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan" and is named in memory of Hilda Chester, a dedicated fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In April 2012, Great Lakes Brewing Company, a Cleveland-based brewery and brewpub, released a product called Rally Drum Red Ale in honor of Adams and Opening Day.
Adams lives in Brecksville, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. He attended both Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland and Parma Senior High School in Parma, Ohio, where he played bass drum in band before graduating high school in 1969. Adams works on computer systems for AT&T and teaches classes, without pay, at Cleveland State University. Adams has also volunteered his time as a member of the Kiwanis service club and the community emergency response team in his hometown and has taught CPR and water safety.