Perhaps the best-known ballpark musicians played from the late 1930s until 1957 at Ebbets Field, for the Brooklyn Dodgers — a band called “the Sym-Phony” (emphasis on the “phony”), a ragtag group of amateur drummers, trumpeters, trombonists and washboard players.
John Joseph Adams was born on Oct. 9, 1951, in Cleveland to John and Eva (Friedman) Adams.
He attended his first Indians game in 1954 and began playing the drums when he was 9. In high school, he performed in the marching band and the orchestra and led cheers; he graduated from Cleveland State University in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in English.
On Aug. 24, 1973, Mr. Adams asked for permission from the Indians to bring his drum to Municipal Stadium. Oddly, he was told not to disturb anyone with his drumming.
“The first time, I got a lot of stares and a few comments like ‘You’re not going to play that thing, are you?’” he told The Beacon Journal, adding that an inebriated fan during that game grabbed his arm and said: “You gonna bang on that drum? Well, then start hitting it.”
“Suddenly, I saw people clapping to the beat,” he recalled. “When the game was over, people stopped me outside the stadium. They told me I had the opposing pitcher so rattled that guys from the other team were looking all over for me.” The Indians beat the Texas Rangers that day, 11-5.
Mr. Adams continued to bang his drum — through many a losing season at the old Municipal Stadium and in mostly better times at Progressive Field — while working at AT&T in several positions, including systems analyst and quality manager, for 40 years, until 2016.
Mr. Adams is survived by a sister, Renee Dilley. His marriage in 1978 to Kathleen Murray, whom he met in the bleachers at Municipal Stadium, ended in divorce.