Average attendance for a Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards this season has been 33,289. But on Wednesday, the Orioles will host the Chicago White Sox in front of zero fans.
Major League Baseball announced the decision this afternoon. It’s just the latest step the city, team, and Major League Baseball have taken in response to increasing unrest in Baltimore.
Protestors have been marching and demonstrating against Baltimore police for more than a week. On April 12, 25-year-old Freddie Gray was arrested in West Baltimore. Gray was hurt while in police custody, and on April 19 died as a result of those injuries. This sparked a series of protests that have grown increasingly intense and violent.
On Saturday, protestors marched toward Camden Yards, prompting the team to ask fans to stay in the stadium until authorities said it was safe to leave. Yesterday, protests erupted in the afternoon, continued through the evening, and led to looting, fires, injuries to cops and protestors, and arrests. The city called in state police and National Guard troops to help bring things under control, and Baltimore enacted a week-long 10 p.m-5 a.m. curfew.
In response to both the dangerous conditions and city-wide curfew, the Orioles postponed last night’s and today’s games against the White Sox.
But with the Orioles looking at a six-game homestand, the team and league needed to find a way to safely play baseball.
The solution they came to includes moving tomorrow night’s game from 7:05 p.m. to 2:05 p.m. and playing before an empty stadium.
Sources at MLB said they can't recall another MLB game played in front of no fans.
The next home series, against the Tampa Bay Rays, will be played at Tropicana Field in Tampa rather than Camden Yards. The two games that were postponed earlier this week will be made up as a doubleheader in Baltimore on May 28.
"After conversations with the Orioles and local officials, we believe that these decisions are in the best interests of fan safety and the deployment of City resources,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by violence in Baltimore, and everyone in our game hopes for peace and the safety of a great American city."
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