John Adams, the Cleveland drummer and baseball fixture, dies at 71
CLEVELAND — John Adams barely missed a game and never the beat for nearly 50 years.
A dedicated baseball fan, Adams became a Cleveland sports fixture while pounding away in the cheap seats during games to rally his beloved home team.
Adams, who spent five decades drumming from the bleachers at Cleveland baseball games, died Monday following several years of health issues. He was 71.
Adams hauled a bass drum that he bought as a 21-year-old for $25 at a garage sale to a game at Municipal Stadium during the 1973 season. Through many lean years for the franchise and then a glorious run during the 1990s when the team moved to a new stadium, Adams was always there.
“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 Guardians 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 would go on to perform at three All-Star games, three World Series and was there the night Len Barker pitched a perfect game for Cleveland in 1981.
He was more than a local celebrity, known to opposing fans and players.
When Yankees Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera visited Cleveland during his farewell season in 2013, he opened his news conference by asking for Adams.
"Where’s the drummer?” Rivera said.
"Right here,” Adams replied from the back of the room, raising one of his drum sticks so the New York legend could see him.
“Hey, you the man,” Rivera said. “Being loyal, being there day in and day out. I really respect that.”
Adams replied: “This is stress relief for me. And you’ve given me a lot of stress.”
When Adams was unable to attend Cleveland's 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.”
Funeral arrangements for Adams were still being planned.