If you ever attended an MLB game in Cleveland from 1973 through 2019, you’re probably familiar with John Adams, a superfan who attended nearly every Cleveland home game during that span and was known for bringing a big bass drum that he banged from his spot in the bleachers.
Adams has been recognized and honored by the team in various ways over the years: He’s thrown out the first pitch; hit the first pitch with his drum; said, “Play ball!” via video when health issues prevented him from attending a playoff game; been immortalized on a bobblehead doll; and more.
But when the Guardians play their home opener on Friday, they’ll give Adams, who died in January, an even greater honor: They’ll wear a memorial patch for him on that day, and again on Aug. 24, the 50th anniversary of his first game with the drum. Here’s a look at the patch design:
Since the Guardians are wearing their team logo patch on alternating sleeves to allow for an eventual ad patch, the Adams patch will presumably by worn this Friday on whichever sleeve is vacant. It’s not clear how the Adams patch will be handled on Aug. 24 if the team has added a sleeve advertiser by then — maybe above the team logo, or maybe on the chest.
We’re all familiar with MLB teams wearing uni-borne memorials for players, managers, coaches, team executives and employees, owners, owners’ wives and children, league officials, broadcasters, local civic officials, disaster victims, mass shooting and terrorism victims, and more. But according to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s extensive listing of uniform memorials, there has been only one previous instance of a fan being uni-memorialized. That was on July 8, 2011, when the Rangers and A’s wore black ribbons (real ribbons, not patches that looked like ribbons) in memory of Shannon Stone, a fan who died the previous day after falling over a railing at the Rangers’ ballpark:
But I don’t think there’s ever been a previous case of an MLB fan being uni-memorialized just for, you know, being a fan. I’m trying to think of examples from other sports and am coming up empty, although the Baltimore Ravens’ end zone shout-out to super-fan Mo Gaba is certainly a similar gesture. Are there any other uniform remembrances to fans that I’m overlooking?
To top it off, that’s one of the best-designed and attractive memorial patches I’ve ever seen.
In Andrew’s quote, shouldn’t it be “tried” instead of “tired”?
“Tired” would accurately match my current state of being, but thanks for the correction!
Will the patch be deep-sixed when the ad patches arrive?
As noted in the article, the patch is being worn for two games: This Friday, and Aug. 24. That’s it.
Oh, okay. I read right past that.
Big-time classy move here. Perfect example of what sport as a civic good could be!
Very nice tribute to John Adams. The Cleveland Guardians are a classy organization.
Thanks for sharing the photo! I’ll be sure that Dev “gets it” as he grows!
A great gesture indeed. You didn’t even need to go to the ballpark to hear his drum – it was very easily picked up on both radio and TV broadcasts.
The first two links in the second paragraph aren’t loading anything when I click on them, and when I right-click to open in a new tab, I get an Access Denied page.
Works now. Thanks!
Purdue’s football team had “FOREVER OUR CAPTAIN” on their helmets during the 2019 Vanderbilt game to honor superfan Tyler Trent.
This is very classy! Has someone else taken up the drumsticks? Watching/listening to games sans drumming will take some getting used to.
RIP John Adams, no one in Cleveland has ever watched more bad baseball than that man. He deserves a year long patch.
Sorry if this has been explained, but what is the necessity of having to remove patches off the shoulder now to create the “vacancy?” Is it a rule that teams can not just switch out a patch once they get an advertiser deal?
I never really understood the Cubs National League Patch on the alternate road blues, simply because I don’t think no one else wears a league patch. But have grown to admire it, why remove it now when there is no advertiser deal?
Love the patch design! Also, I would say he was more than “just a fan”. He contributed the the stadium atmosphere more than any other fan. He had specific rules on when to drum and when not to. As in he would stop when the pitcher comes set and not continue through the pitch, start drumming when a player is in scoring position, Etc.
He was also a stand up person. He was always welcoming and kind with every fan that approached him and took time to talk and take pictures with anyone that wanted to. Every time. He would let you hold the mallet and hit the drum if you wanted. He is truly deserving, in my opinion of course, of the accolades.
There was nothing like having him get every one in the stadium clapping together in a close game. No scoreboard telling people to “get loud”. He truly made the experience at the stadium special in Cleveland.
Is John Adams in Major League or did they use an actor or a stunt drummer?
I just checked IMDB and did not see him listed in the cast.
The Ultimate Fan! What a great story. And what a richly-deserved honor.
Nice move by the Guards. John was as humble and unassuming as a local institution could be.
Good-looking patch too!
Welcome, Devlin Cosentino!
Congrats, Andrew…and let me know if you ever decide to part with that mid-century cabinet.
I love that the Guardians are doing this. I didn’t know John Adams but I miss hearing his drum.
What’s the significance of “Hi-Hat” on the can? A reference to the top hat?
It should be noted, the Guardians organization looked after John Adams in life too. When his health issues piled up and he was forced into assisted living, employees of the organization regularly stopped by to visit with him. I believe the spot where he and his drum sat in the bleachers has been removed and placed in Heritage Park located just over the CF fence. Former Cleveland players, current front office employees and beloved local journalist Terry Pluto served as pallbearers at Mr. Adams funeral. Every fan who approached Mr. Adams was greeted with kindness and he never turned down posing for a photo with his drum. In his nearly 50 years attending games, it’s important to remember that for the first 20 years the team was a laughingstock playing in an oversized dump. John Adams was as much a part of Cleveland as the Terminal Tower, Playhouse Square, West Side Market, midges, pierogies, and heartbreaking postseason losses. I’d love it if the team put that patch on a t shirt with sales benefitting area school music programs.
The Orioles have Wild Bill Hagy in their Hall of Fame at Camden Yards, but I guess he never got a memorial patch from the team, Speaking of superfans, didn’t Cleveland also have a regular who would bring a bag full of hats and don a new one each inning or each half inning?
Super Cool patches, great people stories and cute babies, Happy Wednesday to us!
Though they were promotions and not tributes, Nascar teams have put fans names on various racecars over the years and even named a race after a fan a few years ago…
Great patch but they should do more with it. Like dedicate a home game to him every season, sell merch with this logo and proceedings going to a local charity (like a music school as was sugeested above by another Watcher). John Adams should live on.