The Baltimore Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox 8-2 on Wednesday, to the cheers of absolutely no one. Due to security concerns following violent protests in Baltimore that began Monday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles made history by closing Camden Yards to the public for the first of a three-game series against the White Sox. It is the first time in Major League Baseball history that a game carried on with zero fans in attendance.
The Orioles game will go down as the lowest-attended in the team’s history. According to The Baltimore Sun, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis scored a three-run homer in the first inning to “virtual silence.” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern remarked that everyone in the press box “laughed nervously” after Davis made his hit. Other than a legion of sport journalists, a couple of scouts, the scoreboard operator, and groups of fans who waited outside the stadium in order to catch a glimpse, there was hardly a soul in attendance, at least in real life. Kyle Newport of Bleacher Report remarked that the lack of fans “created a very unusual environment for an MLB game.”
The Washington Post's Clinton Yates summed it up rather nicely: "To call this situation weird would be an understatement."
The decision to close Camden Yards to the public while tensions still riddle Charm City has largely been non-controversial. Peter Schmuck noted in the Sun that security concerns made it impractical to assign large numbers of police to Camden Yards. Wrote Schmuck:
No, it's not really fair from a competitive standpoint and it's not fair to Orioles fans. It's just that fairness has nothing to do with it. The "demonstrators" who tore up the city on Monday night and made a sad mockery of the legitimate Freddie Gray protests succeeded in their desire to shut down normal city life, so the only logical thing for city and state officials to do is to try and deny them the opportunity to make things even worse.
The Orioles set a neutral tone for what would soon prove to be a viral storm of empty baseball stadiums. The team tweeted out a photo of the cavernous, eerie-looking Camden Yards a couple of hours before the game was set to begin at 2 p.m. EST.
Orioles player Caleb Joseph tried to keep up the act by running around and pretending to sign autographs.
But the deafening impact of a baseball game without cheering fans could not be denied.