BOP STOP at The Music Settlement is Cleveland's premier listening room: an intimate, acoustically pristine performance venue with sweeping views of Lake Erie.
Author: Emily Lee via Alaska Commons
In Cleveland, there lived a man who became an institution at the ballpark. John Adams, with his trusty 26-inch bass drum, was a superfan like no other. Adams managed to turn heads, create a racket, and capture the hearts of fans for almost five decades with his relentless drumming and infectious enthusiasm. On August 24, 1973, Adams embarked on a journey that would change his life forever.
It all started when Adams tried to bring his bass drum into Cleveland Stadium for the first time. A skeptical police officer questioned Adams, unsure of what he intended to do with the instrument. Undeterred, Adams confidently replied that he had obtained approval from Dino Lucarelli, a public relations representative for the Indians. After a brief exchange, the officer relented, allowing Adams to enter the stadium with his drum.
News of Adams and his drum quickly spread, capturing the attention of the local press. Soon, he became a beloved figure among Cleveland baseball fans. Articles highlighted his ability to whip up a frenzy with just a few beats of his drum, earning him standing ovations from the crowd. Adams found his place atop the bleachers, a section that would become synonymous with his name. He became a fixture at both the old and new ballparks, with fans flocking to witness his spirited performances.
Throughout the years, Adams faced challenges in his allegiance to the drum. Landlords would evict him for disturbing the peace, his wife would leave home to seek solace, and even the neighbors would call the cops. But through it all, Adams persisted, finding solace and purpose in his role as the team’s unofficial musician.
On the 50th anniversary of that fateful day, the Cleveland Guardians paid tribute to John Adams. Despite his passing in January, Adams’ legacy lives on. The team plans to rename the bleacher sections in his honor on opening day in 2024. Additionally, Adams’ drum will find a new home at the Baseball Hall of Fame while the ballpark undergoes renovations. The Guardians’ uniforms also featured a special patch commemorating Adams, with his initials and a pair of mallets.
Adams’ impact extended beyond the baseball field. Prior to the anniversary game, a representative from the John J. Adams Scholarship Fund presented a $5,000 check to The Music Settlement, supporting individuals facing various challenges through music therapy. Adams also bequeathed his other musical instruments to the organization, ensuring that his love for music lives on.
Reflecting on that memorable night in 1973, Adams admitted to experiencing stage fright. However, with the encouragement of fellow fans, he found the courage to unleash his beats from the top of the bleachers. Adams drummed not only for his own enjoyment but also to ignite enthusiasm among the players and the crowd. Over time, he became a beloved figure, forging friendships with fellow fans and creating enduring memories.
Adams’ drumming became synonymous with Cleveland baseball. Rain or shine, hot or cold, he was there, providing the soundtrack to each season. His drumbeats accompanied critical moments in games and evoked cherished memories for all those who experienced them. It all started that night, 50 years ago, when a determined young man named John Adams insisted on bringing his drum into the stadium against all odds.
John Adams may no longer be with us, but his spirit lives on in the hearts of Cleveland baseball fans. His passion, dedication, and unwavering love for the game will forever be remembered as an integral part of the Cleveland baseball experience. As the team embarks on a new era, they do so with the rhythm of John Adams’ drum resonating through the generations.Back to News