Today the Baltimore Orioles played a home game at Camden Yards against the Chicago White Sox in front of an empty stadium, something usually only Russian soccer teams get to do. The game was played under these quiet conditions after some Baltimore citizens’ protests over Freddie Gray’s death in police custody turned violent this week in neighborhoods near Camden Yards. Playing the game with no fans, among other things, allowed the police force to focus its attention elsewhere.
(A game with no paying fans was especially tough on Camden Yards’ food vendors and ushers, especially after the two previous games were postponed, and news that the scheduled upcoming weekend home series against the Rays will be played in St. Petersburg instead. There is, however, at least one crowdfunding effort for them: http://www.gofundme.com/t98z7y8)
The eerily quiet conditions threw many players off at what was believed to be the first game in Major League Baseball history with no fans. Many players compared it to spring training. Adam Jones said , “This was like a ‘B’ game in spring training, or the Arizona League when I first signed.” Some players still went though their usual fan routines, even with no one to cheer them on. Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph even “signed” “autographs” and gave out ” high fives” to his nonexistent fans. Chris Davis also participated in the antics, occasionally tossing baseballs behind the Orioles dugout to . . . other nonexistent fans.
The game produced some amazing (if spooky) photos, but was an uncomfortable experience for the players. “You could hear a pin drop, and the noise just echoed off the [B&O] warehouse and the entire stadium,” Baltimore closer Zach Britton said. Many players could hear sounds they usually can’t, such as the ring ing of the bullpen phone, or TV play-by-play man Gary Thorne yelling, “Goodbye!” as Chris Davis hit a three – run homer.
In the end, it will count as just another game in the standings, but players expecting the atmosphere of an Orioles home game ended up feeling like they were playing an away game against the Marlins.