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April 29, 2015

Scenes from the game without fans at Oriole Park

MLB Orioles
Orioles Manny Machado Live Stream/Screen Shot

Manny Machado rounds home after hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the 5th inning in front of no one.

After the violent civil unrest in Baltimore on Monday, a baseball game was played Wednesday afternoon. 

That game was played in front of empty seats at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Baltimore Orioles announced that the game against the Chicago White Sox would be unavailable to the public due to the riots that occurred in the city after the death of a black male, Freddy Gray, while in police custody. 

The result was an eery and empty ballpark that hosted what felt like a practice more than an official MLB game. While the press box was full of reporters and television crews, the concessions were locked up and the seats were unfilled. Before anything else, here are the obligatory Phillies jokes:

The result of the game was an 8-2 thrashing by the Orioles, who were powered by a three-run homer from first baseman Chris Davis.

In this Vine video, you can hear White Sox play-by-play announcer Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson calling Davis' home run with a lack of enthusiasm. However because the stadium was nearly dead quiet, you can faintly catch Gary Thorne, who called the game for, making the same call with much more excitement in the background.

Thorne, making light of the game's strange circumstances, started imitating a golf announcer in the bottom of the 7th inning to mirror the silence.
The lack of fans meant there was no one to catch free souvenirs, namely foul and home run balls that reached the seats.
However, that didn't stop some players from pretending they were playing in front of a full house. For example, Chris Davis threw a baseball to an invisible fan in the lower level of the ballpark.
Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph took the silliness to another level when he pretended to sign autographs.

Despite some of the antics, the gravity of the situation in Baltimore was not lost on some of the players and executives in the Orioles organization.

Outfielder Adam Jones said that while the actions of the rioters were unacceptable, he can relate to the frustrations experienced by the protesters, according to The Baltimore Sun:

"I say to the youth, your frustration is warranted. The actions, I don't think are acceptable. If you come from where they come from, you understand, but ruining the community that you have to live in is never the answer. … This is their cry. This isn't a cry that is acceptable, but this is their cry and therefore, we have to understand it."

Orioles COO John Angelos responded to Baltimore sports broadcaster Brent Hollander on twitter Monday when Hollander condemned the actions of those protesting and rioting because of their actions' impact on the community. Angelos wrote a lengthy rebuttal to Hollander's thoughts, which can be seen on his twitter page. USA Today transcribed the entirety of Angelos' tweets:

Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.
That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.
The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

The Orioles will play their next "home" series against the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, this weekend. Despite playing in the Rays' stadium, the Orioles will bat second and be considered the official home team. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.