On Wednesday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles took on the Chicago White Sox without a spectator in the audience. All 45,971 seats in the stadium were empty.
The decision not to allow fans inside the Camden Yards came as a precautionary measure after violence shrouded the streets on Monday night. Protestors and demonstrators took to the streets after Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American, suffered a spinal injury and died a week after being detained by the police without apparent reason.
It was the first time in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB) that a game was played without a single spectator in the stadium. The Orioles, nevertheless, won the game convincingly, beating the Chicago White Sox by a margin of 8-2.
The Orioles pressbox announced to the reporters present in the stadium, “For record-keeping purposes, today’s official paid attendance is zero.”
According to Baltimore Sun, he said, “It’s sad that it’s going to be on these terms. Usually when you are making history, you want to do it for a positive reason and for something you feel good about. For it to be for this, it’s a little disappointing. But like I said I think we have everybody’s best interests in mind. As much as we would like to be kind of a shot in the arm to this city, we have to understand kind of what’s going on around and what the best thing is for everybody.”
With the gates to the stadium locked, fans could only watch the game from a few balconies of a nearby hotel and others who stood outside the stadium behind center field.
“It’s not an easy time for anybody,” Orioles Center fielder Adam Jones said, according to USA Today. “The last 72 hours in this city have been tumultuous to say the least.”
The game began at 2:05 p.m. – five hours prior to its scheduled time – due to a week-long curfew brought down upon the city following the protests that resulted in police officers being injured and several people arrested.
According to ABC News, a few baseball traditions were carried out despite the unusual circumstances the game was played in. The national anthem blared before the game, though it was not performed live. The walk-up music as the batters approached the plate was played as well.
Players didn’t let the emptiness of the stands bring their morale down. Catcher Caleb Joseph gave autographs to invisible fans, and another player threw balls in the empty stands.
Jones said, “We need this game to be played but we need this city to be healed first.
“We’ve seen good. We’ve seen bad. We’ve seen ugly. Our games canceled, postponed, relocated, a city that is hurting, a city that needs its heads of the city to step up and help the ones who are hurting.”
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