Locked Out: Orioles fans booted from ballgame amid unrest
BALTIMORE - Take 'em out of the ball game!
Baseball in Baltimore was closed to the public for one day.
The only shutout in the final score Wednesday at Camden Yards came in the attendance total: Orioles 8, White Sox 2, Fans 0.
MLB decided to play the game behind closed doors because of looting and rioting around Camden Yards that broke out amid tensions between residents and police. The turmoil prompting a citywide curfew came hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who sustained a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody.
The sounds of the game had been silenced.
No cheering for the Orioles, no jeering the umpires.
It stood alone in baseball history - and at 2 hours, 3 minutes, baseball might have an extreme solution for its desires to speed up the game.
The only place full besides the dugouts was the press box, where all 92 seats were taken. Beyond that, TV camera crews lined the field and stationed outside the ballpark, creating media buzz similar to that of a playoff game.
But the grandstands were as vacant as they are in the offseason.
The usually teeming concourse was barren and the concession stands selling $15 crabcakes, $6.50 crab soups and $8 canned beers were locked up.
And those signs cautioning fans to "Watch Out for Batted Balls" were pointless for a day.
It was believed to be the only time in Major League Baseball's 145-season history that the game went on without fans.
But baseball fans are a pesky bunch, and just because they were locked out of Camden, they refused to be shooed away from history. Hundreds of fans peered through a fence beyond the bleacher seats in left-center field. Their cheers could be heard from the press box behind the plate more than 500 yards away.
One Orioles fan yelled during batting practice: "Let us in!"
No such luck.
Some fans watched from the upper, upper deck - a hotel balcony across the street complete with an Orioles banner draped behind them. That's one way to avoid the kiss cam.
The usual in-game entertainment for fans - the Orioles averaged 33,288 through nine games - was benched.
But the players and umpires still bowed their heads in silence during the national anthem and an organ played the tune of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.
The sounds of the game popped for the lucky hundreds or so allowed inside, with each "whack!" ''crack!" and "pop!" echoing throughout empty Camden Yards.
Image: mlb via Instagram