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The fan-less game

The fan-less game

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BALTIMORE (AP) – The Baltimore Orioles played a fan-less game against the Chicago White Sox today amidst the rioting in the city.

4:00 p.m.

Perry Saurers left his mitt at home. He didn’t have to worry about dropping his popcorn or spilling a beer trying to catch a foul ball when it zipped his way, either.

Saurers was all alone on the Camden Yards concourse.

Saurers, a police officer from Howard County who was helping the Orioles authenticate memorabilia from the historic game, leisurely walked after loose baseballs that had rolled under the green seats or were resting in the concrete walkways. He was collecting the souvenirs most fans dream of snagging at the ballpark.

The baseballs aren’t going to be added to his collection, though. He had to turn them over to MLB’s authentication program.

 

3:49 p.m.

The Orioles just proceeded with another baseball tradition: announcing the attendance. For the first time in major league history it went, “Today’s official paid attendance is zero.”

 

3:40 p.m.

It’s time for the seventh inning stretch even if there are no fans to stand up and stretch.

The Orioles organist played the ballpark staple “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to an empty ballpark after the top of the seventh.

 

3:19 p.m.

Manny Machado drives a pitch from Jeff Samardzija into the bullpen to put the Orioles ahead 8-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Baltimore’s third baseman takes a casual trot around the bases while fans assembled beyond the center-field gate cheer.

Under normal circumstances, fans would be heading to the concession stands as the fifth inning ends. But that’s not happening. For one, the concessions stands are closed. More importantly, there are no fans. Not in the seating bowl, anyway.

 

3:16 p.m.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis caught a throw from second baseman Ray Navarro on Micah Johnson’s grounder for the final out of the top of the fifth inning. Standard baseball play. Davis then took a few steps toward the Orioles dugout on the first base side and underhand tossed the ball about a dozen rows into the empty stands, clattering in the seats. The O’s are having a little fun with a 7-2 lead.

 

2:50 p.m.

Chicago second baseman Micah Johnson gets the relay throw from right fielder Avisail Garcia, and those around shout “No!” as he turns to make a throw to the plate.

That’s because Everth Cabrera has stopped at third base.

These are the things the fans don’t usually hear at the game. That, and an infielder yelling, “I got it!” as the outfielder closes in.

The crack of the bat sounds louder, too, perhaps because it’s not accompanied by the sound of a vendor hawking hot dogs.

 

2:41 p.m.

Van Halen “Ain’t Talking `bout Love” between the second and third innings.

They’re playing music as the teams go from the field to the dugout. But the Crab Shuffle and some of the other silly games that usually are usually displayed on the Camden Yards scoreboard are getting a rest today.

No replays, either.

Those in the press box might be horrified if they opted to run the “Kiss Cam,” but it appears that’s not going to happen.

 

2:35 p.m.

Adam Jones says the game needs to be played, but Baltimore needs to heal first.

The Orioles outfielder said Wednesday that’s what’s most important to him as his team plays the White Sox without a crowd at Camden Yards.

Baltimore’s home broadcaster MASN-HD cut to comments by Jones during the top of the second inning, as Ubaldo Jimenez tried to protect a 6-0 lead.

Jones says he hopes the Baltimore community and its children stay strong, get guidance and heed the messages of city leaders.

 

2:20 p.m.

There weren’t any fans in the ballpark, but there was cheering from beyond the center-field wall when Chris Davis hit a three-run homer to give Baltimore a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

Fans watched from behind the iron gate that stands behind the flag court. When Davis’ drive cleared the right-field wall, they yelled their approval.

In addition, fans were lined up on the deck of a hotel that overlooks the stadium.

On another note, Davis’ home run bounced around in front of the warehouse without any fan in pursuit.

The same applied for foul balls, which remained in the stands without being retrieved.

 

2:05 p.m.

The public address announcer at Camden Yards announced the playing of national anthem, informing “ladies and gentlemen” what was to follow.

A recorded version was played while the White Sox stood in a line outside their dugout and the Orioles stood at attention in their dugout.

A custom in Baltimore is shouting “O!” when the song reaches “O say can you see?”

No one did it, although one person in the press box carried on the tradition by saying it under his breath.

At the time, the only people in the stands were a couple of scouts behind the plate.

 

1:45 p.m.

With media buzzing over the deserted game, Camden Yards may as well have been setting up for a playoff game, with all 92 seats in the press box full. TV camera crews lined the field and are stationed outside the ballpark.

But the grandstands are 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.

 

12:10 p.m.

Managers of the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees say players in a closed-door game in Baltimore will have to adjust from their usual habits of feeding off a crowd.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Rays manager Kevin Cash say the atmosphere will certainly be odd.

Said Girardi: “This is going back to the days where just your parents showed up on a cold day.”

The lineup board in the Orioles’ clubhouse says it all: In the attendance section there’s a round “0” in orange marker. Just beneath it under “total attendance” the number read 299,598, an average of nearly 33,300 fans through nine games.

Cash, whose team was visiting the Yankees in New York, said teams “sometimes feed off the opposing crowd when you’re going in an opposing city.”

 

12 p.m.

Being locked out of Camden Yards didn’t stop a small gathering of Orioles fans from peering through a fence beyond the bleacher seats in left-center field.

One Orioles fan yelled: “Let us in!”

No such luck.

While watching batting practice from about 450 feet away on Eutaw Street, fan Larry Marsh said that he wishes he was inside, but thinks officials did the right thing in closing the game. He says: “I’m just going to stand here and watch as long as I can.”

The game is believed to be the first held in an empty stadium in the 145-year history of the major leagues.

 

11:30 p.m.

White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton created quite a stir on twitter with a playful tweet during a difficult time in Baltimore: “We are gonna do our best to take the crowd out of it early. Wish us luck…” The line was retweeted almost 4,000 times and garnered many comments, positive and negative.

To Eaton’s credit, unlike many stars who delete a controversial post, he left it on his feed but added another: “Take it easy people. Just trying to lighten the mood. I have the up most respect for Baltimore and its people. Always have, always will.”

 

10:30 a.m.

Only one gate to Camden Yards is open, allowing media in to watch the Orioles play the White Sox in a game fans aren’t allowed to attend.

The press box is nearly filled 3 1/2 hours before the scheduled first pitch on Wednesday.

While all other gates are locked, a grounds crew is prepping the field to ensure this one-of-a-kind game will actually be played.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says the league’s adjustment to rioting and looting around Camden Yards takes into account the safety of the people who would be in the stadium and competitive issues.

 

8 a.m.

The first crowdless major league game will have plenty of viewers on TV and online.

MLB has made the Orioles-White Sox game being played Wednesday in an empty Camden Yards its free game of the day on MLB.TV. The streaming service will carry the game for fans outside the Baltimore and Chicago markets, where the games will be televised.

Broadcasters WPWR-HD in Chicago and MASN-HD in Baltimore are producing the games and will have to adjust to the lack of ambience normally highlighted to give viewers at home a sense of atmosphere.

Baseball officials decided to play the games behind closed doors because of a wave 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.

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