CLEVELAND — JOHN ADAMS rounds the corner of the left-field bleachers, walks quickly to the very top, and settles into his seat. He sets his bass drum down on the seat next to him, takes up his mallets, and begins to beat it with gusto.
He's been beating his drum in the bleachers for 22 years, most of them in Cleveland's old stadium, where he says his beating ''didn't produce much result.'' He has bought four season tickets at the top of the left-field bleachers at Jacobs Field - one for himself, one for his drum, one for his wife, and one for friends.
''This is my getaway, my escape,'' he says. ''I try not to miss any games.''
His hobby started on a Friday night in 1973. ''It just kind of grew,'' he says. ''I never expected to do it like this. Everything kind of fit into place with fan support.''
It was also the place where he met his wife. ''I would go to some games with my friends and they would talk to him,'' Kathleen Adams says. ''Then they encouraged me to go up to him. From there, we started dating, and....''
When someone hits the ball or when the team needs support, Adams will bang away at his drum, trying to get the crowd riled up. When the Indians are in scoring position, Adams will begin with soft, slow taps and then crescendo to thunderous beats.
The part-time percussionist designs computer systems for a living. He's glad that the Indians don't have many day games, because he would have to miss most of them. (He only misses two home games a year, on average.) A well-known figure in the stands here, Adams has been interviewed by everyone from the Cleveland newspapers to Sports Illustrated. During a 14-inning victory Aug. 30 over the Toronto Blue Jays, many ask for his autograph.
He has always used the same drum, he says, as an Indian gets a base hit and he starts to beat the drum. He goes through a couple sets of mallets and two drum heads a year, he notes.
''I really do play the drums,'' he says. ''I've played with polka bands, blues bands, and the Cleveland orchestra. I do play real music, but I get noted for something a monkey can do.''