|Born||October 9, 1951|
|Known for||Dedicated fan of the Cleveland Guardians|
John Adams (born October 9, 1951) is a dedicated fan of the Cleveland Guardians, 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 from late August 1973 through 2019, which has brought him positive recognition from the Indians and other organizations. The Indians 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; through the 2019 season, he missed only about 45 home games in 47 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, 1997, and 2016 World Series.
Adams still uses the same 26-inch-wide bass drum he began with in 1973. He has stated that he bought it on August 24, 1973, the same day he first brought it to a game, as part of a set for $25 either at a garage sale or through a "swap-and-shop publication." 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.
As of August 2022, Adams has not attended a game since the 2019 season. No fans could attend any Major League games during the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of health issues, in 2021 he missed Opening Day for Cleveland for the first time since 1973, and his health continued to prevent Adams from attending any games in 2021 or, to date, in 2022. In total to date, he has supported the team with his drum at over 3,700 games.
Adams has been recognized by the Cleveland Guardians and other organizations for his long commitment to the team. Soon after the move to Jacobs Field, Cleveland began a record-breaking run of sellouts, which ended at 455 games in April 2001.[a] Shortly afterward, the Indians retired the number 455 in honor of their fans, and Adams helped unveil the commemorative sign. On October 4, 2007, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Guardians' 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 Guardians 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's fellow Guardians 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. On August 24, 2022, the 49-year anniversary of when he started drumming at Cleveland baseball games, the Guardians announced that Adams had been inducted into the Cleveland Guardians Distinguished Hall of Fame, and that a bronze replica of his drum, attached to his seat, would be on display in their stadium.
Adams once paid for his tickets (one for himself, and one for his drum), but the Guardians now pay for two of his season tickets in honor of the contributions he has made to the ballpark atmosphere. Adams buys two additional season tickets. In 2006, 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. In April 2015, The Plain Dealer columnist Tim Warsinskey wrote a column suggesting that a statue of Adams be built in Cleveland in his honor.
Adams also has a plaque located by his seat just under the left field scoreboard commemorating his tenure as the Indians' "#1 Fan".
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 from high school in 1969. He graduated from Cleveland State University, where he intends to pursue his master's degree. He is divorced and does not have any children. Adams worked on computer systems for AT&T until being laid off in October 2016. He has been teaching an aquatics class for students with disabilities, without pay, at Cleveland State University since 1978. 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.
Adams has suffered from health issues beginning in December 2020, including emergency triple bypass surgery and thyroid issues.