Adams first drummed at an Indians game on August 24, 1973, at Cleveland Stadium, at a game in which the Indians beat the Texas Rangers, 11–5. Adams, who was 21 years old at the time, has stated that he brought his bass drum to that first game because he wanted to add to the noise of "seat banging", a tradition at Cleveland Stadium in which fans would bang the swivel seat of their chairs against the chair's base during tense moments in the game. But Adams preferred to sit in the bleachers, where there were no seats to bang. During the game, Bob Sudyk, a reporter for the Cleveland Press, interviewed Adams and asked if he was going to drum again at the following game. Adams said no, but Sudyk wrote in his article that he would. According to Adams, "not to make a liar out of Bob, I showed up with my drum, and then I came to the next game and the next game and the next game."The Indians' promotions director at the time, Jackie York, also approached Adams and asked him to play at every game. Adams formally declined but continued to attend games with his drum. Ever since, Adams has sat in the highest bleacher seat in left-center field with his bass drum; he has missed only 37 home games in more than 38 seasons. Adams played at Cleveland Stadium until October 1993, when the Indians played their last game there. Next spring he moved with the team to its new ballpark, Jacobs Field (renamed Progressive Field in 2008). Adams played the drum at his 3,000th game on April 27, 2011. During his tenure, he has witnessed Indians pitcher Len Barker pitch a perfect game on May 15, 1981, and witnessed the Indians play in the 1995 and 1997 World Series. Adams still uses the same 26-inch-wide bass drum he began with in 1973. He has stated that he bought it as part of a set for $25 at a garage sale. It has the same head on the side of the drum that Adams does not beat, but Adams has stated that he replaces the other side about twice a year and also goes through about three sets of mallets each year. During games, Adams tends to drum at particular moments: when the Indians take the field at the beginning of the game, if the Indians have runners in scoring position, if the Indians are tied or trailing near the end of the game, or if they are winning at the top of the ninth inning. Because of his drumming, Adams became a celebrity and his drum was soon nicknamed Big Chief Boom-Boom, by Indians radio announcer Herb Score. It has also helped him meet politicians, including U.S. senators and a Pakistani government official.
John Adams is a dedicated fan of the Cleveland Indians, a Major League Baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. Adams has played his bass drum in the bleacher seats during nearly every Indians home game since 1973.