CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – John Adams' famed drumbeat has fallen silent.
Adams, who provided the soundtrack for generations of fans from high atop the bleachers during baseball season, passed away at the age of 71 the Cleveland Guardians announced Monday.
“For nearly five decades the beat of John’s drum was the heartbeat of baseball here in Cleveland,” Guardians senior vice president of public affairs Bob DiBiasio said. “We are all saddened by John’s passing. His dedication, commitment and passion for our franchise, at both Cleveland Stadium and Progressive Field, was unmatched. John will forever remain a member of our team.”
Watch the Guardians tribute to Adams in the video, which is narrated by DiBiasio, in the video player above.
Adams fell ill in recent years keeping him away from the ballpark, but his spirit lives on.
The Guardians inducted Adams into their Distinguished Hall of Fame last season and a bronzed drum as well as his bleacher seat were moved to Heritage Park beyond the center field wall in his honor.
“I do it for the players,” Adams said at the time. “I love the organization. It’s my way of drumming up enthusiasm for the team.”
Adams, a 1969 graduate of Parma High School, bought his famous bass drum at a garage sale for $25 and he began banging away in the bleachers on August 24, 1973, an 11-5 Cleveland victory over the Rangers at cavernous Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
“I’ve found the perfect place and I love it,” Adams said when he was asked asked about picking the bleachers.
Adams went on to attend over 3,500 games, including three All-Star Games and three World Series between 1973 and 2019.
The Indians teams of the 1970s and 80s were forgettable yet Adams was there. Lenny Barker provided one of the few highlights by throwing a perfect game in May of 1981.
Adams continued the tradition of beating his drum when the Indians moved to Progressive Field, which opened in 1994 as Jacobs Field, and he became the soundtrack of those great teams of the 1990’s that won five consecutive division titles, two American League pennants and saw the team sell out 455 consecutive games.
Every time a runner would reach for the home team during games, Adams would do his part to fuel a rally by banging away on his drum.
RBI singles, doubles or triples, home runs, double plays, strikeouts – fans would rise to their feet and clap along to the beat from Adams.
Rain or shine, win or lose – Adams became a dependable fixture at games, and a reluctant local celebrity too.
Adams was a fan favorite everywhere he went. He’d make appearances at the team’s annual winter festival and the lines to greet him would be as long as those to meet the players.
In 2006, the team gave out a 'Rally Drummer' bobblehead of Adams, which depicted him standing atop the bleachers banging on his drum, but instead of the traditional movable head, his featured movable arms.
The last few seasons Progressive Field hasn’t felt the same without the thumping sound coming from Adams and his drum. Recordings of it playing over the PA system just isn’t the same.
Adams was your best friend in the bleachers, one of a kind.
For fans, memories of Adams and the beat of his drum live on.