To bring fans to see the miserable Cleveland Indians play the Texas Rangers on June 4, 1974, management decided to sell 10-ounce cups of beer for only 10 cents.
More than 25,000 fans showed up for the event, but management forgot one small detail: drunk people get restless. Among the more tame incidents was a woman who flashed the crowd from the on-deck circle, a father-son team mooning the players, and fans jumping on the field to meet the outfielders. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, the Indians tied the game, but never got a chance to win. Fans started throwing batteries, golf balls, cups, and rocks onto the field. The drunk-fest involved more streakers, base stealers (literally), and fans who stormed the field and attacked the opposing team. Cleveland players had to wield bats to come to the aid of the Rangers players. Texas was awarded a forfeit.
The American League president forced the franchise to abandon the promotion idea and added this great understatement: “There was no question that beer played a great part in the affair.”
For more stories of baseball promotions gone wrong, check out Bud Shaw's If You Blow Up Disco Records, They Will Come.