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White Sox, Orioles Face Off During Empty Stadium Game In Baltimore

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Apr 29, 2015 10:10PM

Today, the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles played one of the strangest baseball games you'll ever see. The Sox arrived in Baltimore earlier this week for a regularly scheduled three game series, when the city erupted in protest after the death of Freddie Gray. The protests turned violent, a curfew was enforced and the first two games of the series were canceled. Upon consulting with the MLB front office and local authorities, the teams agreed to play today's game with the provision that no fans would be allowed in the stadium.

The Orioles tried to make everything seem as normal as possible despite the situation. According to a cameraman Chicagoist spoke to on the scene, the organization was committed to all of the normal trappings of the game. They played the national anthem, generic stadium rock music, the seventh inning stretch and everything else you come to expect from a baseball game. Except, you know, no fans were there.

Camden Yards a half hour before first pitch. Zero fans.

A photo posted by Paul Rigney (@paulrigney) on

A few Orioles fans were able to gather right outside of the gate near the entrance to the stadium and watch the proceedings. They attempted to make their presence felt, regularly chanting "Let's go O's," the scene eerily shadowed by an armored police vehicle.

Baltimore war wagon parked outside Camden Yards.

A photo posted by Paul Rigney (@paulrigney) on

At least the players tried to have fun with it. Sox center fielder Adam Eaton tried to keep it light:

And Orioles Catcher Caleb Joseph signed autographs for all the "fans:"

As the game started and the National Anthem played, it started to sink in that this was not going to be a normal game. It's one thing to hear about a baseball game without fans. It's another thing to actually see it. There were media members posting pictures of the game from the press box:

Watching the game on television, it became abundantly clear how much fans take ambient noise for granted. In the top of the first inning, Sox star first baseman Jose Abreu sharply hit a foul ball and it was incredibly loud, even on TV, while it would've been swallowed up by random sound during an ordinary game. You could hear some media member's phones making noises. During the bottom of the first inning while Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija kept giving up runs, the only noise was the hundred or so Orioles fans standing outside the stadium. You could clearly hear the umpires loudly making calls. Only three people sat in the stands, a couple of scouts.

A funny moment occurred during the game when Orioles first baseman Chris Davis flipped a ball into the empty stands while running into the dugout:

But mostly, it was just another baseball game. I kept waiting for something out of the ordinary to happen, but the game just went along as usual. As White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson said, "It's weird, but not as weird as I thought it might be." The Orioles won 8-2.