CLEVELAND — John Adams, who pounded a drum while sitting in Cleveland’s outfield bleachers during baseball games for five decades, has died. He was 71.
The Guardians announced Adams’ death Monday.
Adams first hauled a bass drum that he bought for $25 at a garage sale to a game at Municipal Stadium during the 1973 season. He’d bang out a steady beat whenever the home team was batting and wound up becoming a Cleveland sports icon.
“For nearly five decades the beat of John’s drum was the heartbeat of baseball here in Cleveland,” said Guardians senior vice president of public affairs Bob DiBiasio. “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.”
Adams’ health had been in decline the past few seasons. No longer able to attend games, he was honored by the team last season with a replica bronze sculpture of his drum, 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.
A Parma, Ohio, native, Adams started his drumming gig with the team on Aug. 24, 1973, when Cleveland hosted the Texas Rangers. He was a fixture during the regular season and performed at three All-Star Games, three World Series and was there the night Len Barker pitched a perfect game for Cleveland in 1981.
When Adams was unable to attend the home opener in 2021, drummer Patrick Carney of Akron’s rock duo The Black Keys filled in.
Carney was thrilled to be able to sit in for Adams.
“I’m stoked 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.”