SAGAMORE HILLS, Ohio (WJW) – People from across Northeast Ohio are paying their final respects to Cleveland baseball’s number one fan.
John Adams and his drum were both the heartbeat of the city and the soundtrack of summer.
“Winning, losing, no matter how many people were there, he was there,” said friend Larry Kennedy.
Friday night, scores of fans, friends, family members and Guardians representatives attended calling hours for Adams at Ferfolia Funeral Home in Sagamore Hills.
Adams had been battling health issues in recent years and passed away Monday at the age of 71.
“It’s definitely a loss for everyone. He was a part of us,” said R.J. Dusek, a Guardians fan who grew up hearing Adams at the games. “There’s nothing better. There’s an adrenaline, an energy he just always brought.”
Adams picked up the used drum at a garage sale for $25 and started drumming at the games up in the bleachers 48 years ago.
He wanted to replicate the sound of banging chairs at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
In all of those years, he hardly ever missed a home game despite also working a full-time job.
“He knew that we treasured everything he brought to us,” said Guardians Vice President of Communications Curtis Danburg. “In August, we inducted him into the distinguished Hall of Fame and we gifted him the replica drum and the bench he sat on for all of those years.”
Those attending calling hours say Adams was also a kind and giving person outside of the ballpark.
“You know, he gave swimming lessons to the disabled,” said friend, Bob Scott. “He was involved in so many other things.”
Another friend, Karen Hale, said he helped her son with an Autism Speaks event.
“My son asked him about 10 years ago would he lead the walk,” said Hale. “He said, ‘I’ll be there,’ and he was there with his drum and he brought a slew of people to walk with us. He was wonderful.”
Another close family friend broke down in tears remembering Adams.
As a child she says they’d often go to games and sit with John.
“He was this humble, wonderful person and it’s a loss not just for the people who knew him, but the community,” said Anna Evans with tears rolling down her cheeks.
The drum has now been willed to the Guardians organization. They say John wanted the tradition and beat to live on for fans.
“Cleveland baseball was in his soul,” said Danburg. “Everybody knew John Adams, the drummer associated with our organization. You know, that means a lot to us and, you know, he leaves that legacy.”
A funeral mass will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland, just a few blocks from the ballpark