The Baltimore Orioles closed Wednesday's game against the White Sox to the public, an unprecedented move in major American sports that meant there were no fans at a Major League Baseball game for the first time ever. The move followed riots and protests in the city that exploded this week after the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured in police custody. Updates from what many are calling a "ghost game":
Final: Orioles 8, White Sox 2
A recipe for speed?
Baseball might have found the magic formula to speeding up games: no fans.
It took the Orioles only two hours and three minutes to complete an 8-2 win in front of the first zero-attendance crowd in Major League Baseball history.
The average MLB game this season has been roughly just under three hours. MLB has taken steps this season to shorten games, which, on average, eclipsed the three-hour mark last season.
Still, the brief outing was nowhere close to setting a record. The quickest nine-inning game in MLB history was played between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics on Sept. 28, 1919. That game lasted a measly 51 minutes.
Perhaps the fans shouldn't blame the players for slowing down the game.
Attendance: 0 (it's official)
If he's crazy, we're all crazy
Time to stretch those legs
Since no one can be at the game:
Benjamin Fluke was among the 50 or so fans who assembled on the sidewalk on Eutaw Street, outside the park, to peer through the picket fence and cheer on their team in one of the weirdest moments in Major League Baseball history
“You're taking away from the fans, but I understand there is bigger stuff going on than baseball right now,” said Fluke, 19, a criminal-justice major at the University of Baltimore and part of a family of “generations” of Orioles fans.
Peering into the stadium, the fans could catch a sliver of the action, and cheered and chanted when the Orioles jumped out to an early lead. The best views were across the street, in the Hilton Hotel tower; Orioles and White Sox banners were hanging from the balconies.
A bemused Richard Messick, a lifelong Baltimore resident, sat on a post on the sidewalk watching the spectacle. “It breaks my heart that it had to come to this,” he said, speaking of the riots that have left the city bruised. As for the decision to hold a game in an empty stadium, Messick said it was an overreaction.
“I understand their concern,” he said. “But it's nuts.”
A bare Birdland
- Ballpark officials played a taped instrumental version of the national anthem.
- In an attempt to maintain normalcy, the Jumbotron was kept on.
- Sounds of the ball hitting the bat were unusually crisp.
- When the ball went foul, it bounced off green plastic seats. No fight over the souvenir today.
- No one celebrated the great catch in right field or the double play that ended the White Sox's second inning on a scoreless note.
-- Noah Bierman
Sounds of an empty stadium
This could become a thing
Maybe someone will drop a pin
One thing this will do: Make the umpires stars. You can hear every ball, strike, safe and out call clearly.
Questions to be answered
Things to look for at today's ghost game:
Will they sing the national anthem?
Will they play walk-up music for the players?
Will they have the seventh-inning stretch and sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"?
Will there be a PA announcer to announce pinch-hitters and relievers?
Will they still introduce the starting lineups over the video screen, with the accompanying music?
What will happen to foul balls? Will they just stay in the stands until the next home game?
Will they shoot off fireworks after home runs?
Will they still play the “Guess today's attendance” game?
Players get ready for #ghostgame
How about waving to this guy?
No worries on being drowned out by cheering fans
Lights are on, no fans are here
No fans, but lots of reporters
Usually before an Orioles game in Baltimore, fans mill on Eutaw Street near the smoke that wafts from Boog's BBQ. They sip on National Bohemian during the game and dance to John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" at the seventh-inning stretch.
It's part of the natural rhythm of a ballgame at Camden Yards, a flow that will be interrupted entirely Wednesday.
For the first time in Major League Baseball, fans will be shut out of a game, when the Orioles play the Chicago White Sox.
-- Zach Helfand