'In spirit I'll be there': Tribe drummer John Adams watching home opener from home this year

Indians drummer John Adams
Posted at 11:30 AM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 11:58:11-04

CLEVELAND — As fans make their way to Progressive Field for the Indians’ home opener, one familiar face won’t be back at the ballpark just yet.

John Adams, known for his bass drum in his bleacher seat in left field, is missing his first home opener with the drum since 1973. Adams started going to Indians' home openers in 1955, and excluding the pandemic-altered 2020 season, this will be the first one he’s missed.

“I don’t know how that’s going to feel. It’s going to be kind of bizarre.” Adams said. “But I’ll get through it and I know in spirit I'll be there.”

Since December, Adams has undergone triple bypass surgery, a heart valve replacement and suffered from thyroid issues. While he recovers, he’ll watch the Indians from the comfort of his own home.

“I’ll probably have my drum next to me just to tap it a few times for the guys,” he said.

But it’s not the home runs, strikeouts, or hot dog races that he’ll miss the most; Adams enjoys getting to know fans at the ballpark over the years.

“Every opening day, it’s like a Happy New Year. It’s your baseball family. It’s your baseball tribe and they all get together and we celebrate. The best part of being there is meeting the people and sharing the stories. There’s so many wonderful people out there,” Adams said.

If all goes well, Adams is hoping that he can return to Progressive Field by June or July.

“I don’t know if I’ll even have to take the steps up there, I’ll probably float up to the top,” Adams said.

In the meantime, the Tribe is going to the bullpen and calling in a pinch drummer. Akron native Patrick Carney of The Black Keys will assume Adams' role for the Home Opener.

“His dad was a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal and interviewed me and said, ‘Hey my son is starting a band,’ and he gave me a CD,” Adams said. “A few years ago, the Indians came to me and said ‘There’s this band, you’ve probably never heard of them. They’re called The Black Keys’ and I go ‘I heard of them before you did.’”

Carney ended up joining Adams shortly after that phone call in the bleachers for a game and got to bang on his drum.

“First time beating on the drum, and it was a home run. I said ‘Patrick, you’re not going to get any better than this,’” Adams said.

With fans finally permitted at regular season Major League Baseball games for the first time in more than a year, Adams has a message for them to hang on to until he returns.

“Be good to each other. Share memories when you’re down there. Meet your new best friend sitting close to you,” he said.