Baltimore Orioles: Tough hours in Birdland
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
2) The game with no fans
The aforementioned walk off game gave us a one-day respite from what at that point was being called civil unrest. Sunday, April 26th came and went without incident. However Monday, April 27th brought us a much worse situation, as the violence re-commenced – and worsened at that. The situation became a full-scale riot at that time, canceling the Orioles’ series-opener against the ChiSox, along with game two the next night. At this point both teams and the league were quickly looking for viable options to play games at all, as it became clear that Baltimore wasn’t an option.
Games one and two of the ChiSox series were rescheduled as part of a doubleheader later in the year. However game three was played on it’s previously scheduled day, Wednesday, April 29th. The game was moved to an afternoon times slot given the fact that the city faced a curfew imposed by the mayor at night. There was also a twist to this game, never before seen in MLB circles: it was closed to the public. For the first time in league history, a game was played literally in front of no fans.
This of course was done due to the fact that the police had to use their resources in other places due to the nature of what was going on in the city at that time, and public safety couldn’t be guaranteed. For the record, the Orioles defeated the ChiSox that day 8-2, at an eerily quiet Oriole Park at Camden Yards. But legions of fans gathered outside the ballpark gates in left field, peering into the game. In what became the personification of a community trying to take it’s city back, people stood there watching the game, listening on the radio, etc. It was almost like a big tailgate party during the game.
During the national anthem, the players themselves shouted “O!” in a show of loyalty to the city. However they also heard that familiar yell from the fans gathered outside, and thus they knew that the people were with them. Throughout the game, the faint roar of those people was also audible on television. While the circumstances of not letting people into the stands was incredibly sad and unfortunate, it also gave us the image of Baltimore rising from the ashes like a Phoenix – by way of the people watching through the gates.
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