Earlier this year, Miller Park unveiled its much-hyped “Local Brews” bar. Open now, the Loge Level destination features 24 Wisconsin-brewed beers from breweries like Lakefront Brewery, Third Space Brewing, Wisconsin Brewing Co., Raised Grain, MillerCoors, Leinenkugel’s, and more. Prices range anywhere from $10 to $14 for a 16-ounce cup. Again: $10 to $14 for a 16-ounce cup.
Back in 1971, however, Milwaukee baseball fans were treated to a much, much cheaper beer option. On June 18 of that year, the Milwaukee Brewers hosted their first 10-Cent Beer Night at County Stadium. 27,472 fans showed up for the “shitload of dimes” promotion, which was brewed up as a way to boost lackluster attendance during the team’s second year as the Brewers. Predictably, things went awry.
A Milwaukee Journal report from the time details countless fights, countless arrests, and plenty of dubious “drinking games” throughout the park. A terrific retrospective from the American Mustache Institute quotes the Journal:
There were weird contests—and more contests. One man ordered 130 beers and his group finished them by the sixth inning…Four youths still had 24 cups left when the game ended and were last seen finishing them off.
According to AMI, limitations on the promotion were lax. Fans could “only” buy six beers at a time, and a staggering 1,000 barrels of beer were set aside for the Friday-night game. Meanwhile, the drinking age was 18 in 1971, meaning more of the Journal‘s so-called “youths” could participate.
The Journal continues:
Predictably fights broke out in all sectors of the park, usually matching police against an overenthusiastic and slightly polluted rooter. It was usually a one-sided contest and many of those carried away were released without charge. Surprisingly, the only persons entering the playing field were two young men, who moved so quickly and with such reckless abandon that they were practically ignored by the ushers. Once touching the hallowed ground, they quickly retreated and ordered another.
AMI details the legal fallout of the fiasco:
So many people were arrested that an impromptu court was set up to handle the cases—friends described inventive defenses used to try and elude the charges. One man who was nabbed after going into the women’s room to urinate told the judge, “I didn’t see the W-O.” He didn’t get off, but even the judge laughed at that one.
Things could have been worse. The Brewers were expecting 40,000 fans to pack County Stadium that night, but rain and cool temperatures during the day kept attendance relatively low. One might say this simply meant there was more beer for less people, however, so who knows.
The Brewers held a few more 10-Cent Beer Nights in subsequent seasons, but capped the cheap-beer limit at two per fan. Though a big deal back in the day, the Brewers’ 1971 debacle was eclipsed in 1974 by a similar—though much more insane—10-Cent Beer Night by the Cleveland Indians. In that case, a full-blown riot broke out at Cleveland Stadium, and the game was eventually forfeited.
Today, chances of the Brewers doing another 10-Cent Beer Night (or a 60-Cent Beer Night, adjusted for inflation) are slim to none. Oh, the Brewers played the Oakland Athletics the night of their beerapalooza, and lost 6-2.