BALTIMORE – This is an anniversary I’d rather forget. Many people are writing about the fanless game that took place one year ago today, and I should be one of them.
I was there. I saw it.
I remember the same details everyone else does. Chris Davis throwing balls into the empty stands, Caleb Joseph pantomiming signing autographs, and the fans at the nearby Hilton cheering.
But, for me, that week was one of the worst experiences of my life.
As a 36-year resident of Baltimore, I had seen many things, but on the night of April 27, when the Orioles scheduled game with the Chicago White Sox was postponed because of the riots, I tried to get home as quickly as I could.
My home, in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill neighborhood, is just over a mile from where much of the rioting occurred, and I needed to be home.
Without traffic, I’m home in 10 minutes, and at the beginning of my trip, I thought I’d easily do that. There was no traffic on the streets, but halfway home, I saw a line of police dressed in riot gear, and I had to make a detour.
A detour past smashed windows and some ransacked stores.
I sped through a couple of red lights and heard a radio report that stores in my neighborhood had been looted. Just then, I saw some kids walking down the street with boxes, presumably of stolen goods.
I made it home safely, but later found that my car hood had been damaged. Some kids jumped on it, I guess.
The next few days were awful.
While I waited for news on the fate of the scheduled Orioles games, neighbors went to the nearby stores to help them clean up.
And, after the fanless game was played, the Orioles prepared for their hastily scheduled series in Tampa Bay where they would be the home team.
It would have been interesting to see that, but I was needed at home.
For several days after the riot, there was a 10 p.m. curfew, and police helicopters continually circled about our house. I can still feel the noise a year later.
The Fifth Regiment Armory is a few blocks away, and when the National Guard was deployed, that’s where they went.
It was disturbing seeing armed tanks not only downtown when I went to get a haircut and go shopping, but more upsetting seeing the Guard riding around my neighborhood.
In the last 12 months, crime in our neighborhood and the city is up, but our neighbors, many of whom are close friends, haven’t abandoned their homes.
It’s a neighborhood with many advantages. It’s close to downtown, restaurants and attractions, full of people who help each other in times of need.
A year later, the Orioles and Chicago White Sox, the team they faced in that game are playing again tonight. I’ll be happy to concentrate on that game instead of the one everyone remembers.