Guardians honor iconic drumming fan with uniform patch

April 7th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- When longtime ballpark drummer John Adams started having health problems two years ago, he was determined to get back to Progressive Field. While he may not have been able to do that, the Guardians made sure his presence was felt at their home opener on Friday.

The Guardians wore a patch with his initials “JA” inside his famous bass drum. His mallets are featured in between the letters. The club is also planning to wear this patch again on Aug. 24, the 50th anniversary of the first time he attended a game with his drum.

"I think it's a really classy gesture," Guardians manager Terry Francona said. "Any time you include fans, you don't see that very often."

"I think that speaks to John's unique place in our history," Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. "John would be the first to tell you how much he cared about the organization, but I think he also represents a lot of Cleveland baseball fans."

Adams passed away at the age of 71 at the end of January from a long battle with health problems that included broken ribs, heart surgeries, thyroid complications, a broken hip and an infection in his heel that eliminated his ability to walk. But no matter what hand he was dealt, he relied on Guardians games to get him through the day.

Adams bought the drum for $25 at a garage sale. He wanted to make some noise but didn’t want to bother anyone, so he worked his way to the top row of an outfield section at Cleveland Municipal Stadium to keep his distance from other fans and started banging his drum. Little did he know, he found a home for the next 48 years. When the home team would have runners in scoring position or were just in need of a rally, Adams would rhythmically start pounding his drum, often getting the crowd to clap along.

Over that span in the bleachers (more than 3,500 games), Adams missed just 45 home contests. He attended three All-Star Games, 11 playoff series, three World Series, and he had a seat at Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981.

Last August, the Guardians visited Adams at his nursing home to surprise him with the news that he had been inducted into Cleveland’s Distinguished Hall of Fame. He also learned that a bronze sculpture of his drum sitting on top of the left-field bleachers was being moved into Heritage Park -- a concept he couldn’t wrap his brain around.

Although his health was failing him, Adams continued to put his love for the Guardians first. He watched every game from his bed the last two seasons and tried to have his passion that he emitted at the ballpark transfer through the TV set.

He may be gone now, but there’s no question that his presence was felt on Friday – just as Adams would’ve wanted.