Longtime drummer Adams honored by Guardians

August 24th, 2022

CLEVELAND -- No matter how many hurdles John Adams has to face when it comes to his health, he’s determined to get back to Progressive Field at some point in the future. In the meantime, the Guardians are doing their part to make his presence known at every home game moving forward.

The Guardians surprised Adams on Wednesday afternoon -- the anniversary of the first game he brought his enormous bass drum to in 1973 -- at his living facility with a special announcement in a small ceremony in front of friends, family and Guardians staffers. Adams learned that he’ll be the 12th member of Cleveland’s Distinguished Hall of Fame and that the bench he sat on in the top of the left-field bleachers will be moved to Heritage Park with a bronze sculpture of his drum sitting on top of it.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Adams blurted out, with an enormous grin as the Guardians continued to explain how his legacy would live on at Progressive Field.

The left-field bleachers have been quieter the past two years since Adams began dealing with medical concerns. In 2021, he had triple bypass surgery and another heart surgery, along with four broken ribs. He had three trips to the ICU and was bedridden for an extended period. When it finally seemed to be getting better, Adams broke his hip and had a serious infection in his heel that limited his ability to walk as the new year rolled around.

So Adams hasn’t been able to get himself down to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario to do his usual drumming to help spark a rally when Cleveland needs it most. It’s been foreign for him to be stuck watching games from only his television screen after attending more than 3,700 games over the last 50 years.

He had a brief moment to reflect on those memories, as the Guardians put together a poster board with a collage of photographs of Adams with fans during his time in the stands. One of his friends at the living facility he’s currently residing at had a picture of him with Adams after a game many years ago -- back when he didn’t know Adams personally and was just a fan wanting a photo.

Adams has never been difficult to spot in a crowd. He’s the man with the enormous bass drum strapped to him. An idea that began mostly because he was tired of hurting his hand against the wooden bleachers that hardly made any noise became a staple of the Cleveland franchise for nearly five decades.

“How many inanimate objects have a season ticket?” Adams said, with a laugh.

That inanimate object will forever be honored in Progressive Field with an identical bronze replica (with his USA beads dangling off the side of the drum and everything) placed on his usual seat that was removed from section 182 to move to Heritage Park for all fans to see.

This doesn’t mean that Adams has given up hope that he will eventually get back to leading the crowd in cheers with his instrument. It’s quite the opposite. No matter how much he’s facing, Adams refuses to have anything but a positive outlook. If you ask him, he’s positive he’ll be able to get himself back to Progressive Field at some point in the future.

“Unfortunately, I’m dealing with a little bit of a health issue here,” Adams said, “but we’re going to fight and come back.”