MINNEAPOLIS -- They’re ready for a few days of normalcy but the White Sox acknowledged they would have lasting memories of Wednesday’s historic game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Whether they were seated in the bullpen, dugout, broadcast booth or standing in a coach’s box, every member of the White Sox seemed to notice something different about the first game in the history of Major League Baseball to be closed to the public.
Though it’s a game they won’t soon forget, outfielder Adam Eaton, who remembers hearing sirens echo and helicopters hover, hopes it’s doesn’t happen again.
“There was no energy,” Eaton said. “It’s something to tell my grandkids about when I’m 50 or 60. But I don’t think we ever want to experience it again.”
Shortstop Alexei Ramirez likened the experience to closed practices with the Cuban National Team. Though he found it strange, Ramirez understands why the game was played under the conditions they were.
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Rioting throughout Baltimore on Monday led to the cancellation of the first two games between the White Sox and Orioles. After a number of options were considered, the teams agreed to the surreal setting in the name of safety. Ramirez said he’s thankful for the coordinated efforts of local law enforcement and elected officials, MLB and the teams for moving the start time up five hours.
“In that situation with the city, the most important thing is to protect the city and protect the citizens,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “For us it was weird, but it was a measure that had to be done.”
From beyond center field, bullpen catcher Adam Ricks distinctly remembers hearing second-base ump Bob Davidson call “home run” when Manny Machado cleared the left-center field wall in the fifth inning. Pitcher Carlos Rodon could hear the ball loudly pop the catcher’s glove at home plate even though he stood more than 450 feet away -- “You never hear that, especially that far away,” Rodon said.
As he took his customary spot next to the bag, third-base coach Joe McEwing finally noticed how empty the 45,971-seat venue was after the first foul ball.
“You usually look to see where the ball went and say ‘Heads up,’ and you understand that nobody’s there,” McEwing said. “It was just a unique situation."
Considering how “intense” OPACY normally is, closer David Robertson found the setting to be quite eerie. Robertson visited Baltimore between 9-10 times a season while with the New York Yankees. Hearing the team’s fans launch into the “Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh” portion of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” has been seared into his memory over the years. At one point, the 50-75 fans standing outside the gates of the stadium on West Camden Street did their rendition of Jack White’s hit song.
And when that very group cheered during the Orioles’ six-run, first-inning outburst, it provided White Sox analyst Steve Stone with a feeling he’s never had before.
“They couldn’t be a part of it,” Stone said. “It was totally silent. It seemed like a disembodied cheering from beyond the fences. I guess for the first time I had the feeling of what it might be like to actually be one of the inhabitants of the zoo.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura is hoping to return to a normal baseball routine after one of the strangest weeks of his career. Between last Thursday’s brawl, Friday’s suspended game, Saturday’s rainout, Sunday’s quasi-doubleheader, the two cancellations and an empty park on Wednesday, things couldn’t be more surreal for the White Sox.
“It’s been an unusual week,” Ventura said. “No two ways around it. We’ve had to find a way to adjust, find a normalcy, a rhythm of getting back and working and playing in games.”