CLEVELAND (AP) — John Adams has barely missed a game and hasn’t hit the beat in nearly 50 years.
A baseball aficionado, Adams became a Cleveland sports fixture as he pounced on the cheap seats during games to rally his beloved home team.
Adams, who spent five decades drumming from the bleachers at baseball games in Cleveland, died Monday after several years of ill health. He was 71 years old.
Adams hauled a bass drum he bought as a 21-year-old for $25 to a one-game garage sale at Municipal Stadium during the 1973 season. During many lean years for the franchise and then a glorious run during the 1990s, when the team moved to a new stadium, Adams has always been there.
“For nearly fifty years the beat of John’s drum has been the heartbeat of baseball here in Cleveland,” said Bob DiBiasio, Guardians senior vice president of public affairs. “We are all saddened by the passing of John. His dedication, his commitment and his passion for our franchise, both at Cleveland Stadium and at Progressive Field, are unmatched. John will forever remain a member of our team.”
Adams’ health had been in decline for the past few seasons. No longer able to attend games, he was honored by the Guardians last season with a replica of his bronze drum sculpture, which has a permanent place in the team’s Heritage Park area at Progressive Field.
There is also a plaque mounted on the wall next to his seat and above the top row of the left field bleachers.
Born in Parma, Ohio, Adams began his drumming gig with the team on August 24, 1973, when Cleveland hosted the Texas Rangers. He would go on to perform in three All-Star games, three World Series and was there the night Len Barker pitched a perfect game for Cleveland in 1981.
He was more of a local celebrity, known to fans and opposing players.
When Yankees Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera visited Cleveland during his bye season in 2013, he opened his press conference by asking about Adams.
“Where’s the drummer?” Rivera said.
“Right here,” Adams replied from the back of the room, holding up one of his wands so the New York legend could see him.
“Hey, you the man,” Rivera said. “Be loyal, be there day after day. I really respect that.
Adams replied: “This is a stress reliever for me. And you gave me a lot of stress.
When Adams was unable to attend Cleveland’s 2021 home opener, drummer Patrick Carney of Akron-based rock duo The Black Keys filled back.
Carney was thrilled to be able to sit for Adams.
“I’m thrilled to be here for John,” Carney told the Associated Press before Cleveland hosted Kansas City that day. “It’s the best seat in the house.”
Adams’ funeral was still scheduled.
MLB AP: e