It’s still one of the most memorable Orioles games of all time — the one everyone remembers and few want to repeat.
Five years ago Wednesday, the Orioles and the White Sox played in Major League Baseball’s first and only crowd-less game due to unrest in the city of Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray. Gray passed away on April 19, 2015.
After the first two games of the Orioles and White Sox series was cancelled due to riots in Baltimore, Major League Baseball announced the game would be moved from a night game to mid-afternoon and the series finale would be played without fans in the stands.
The game, and the entire week, stand out years later to players that played in the game, especially as discussions about playing games without fans due to COV-19 continue.
“I think it’s something that I’ve prepared myself for, hoping that we wouldn’t necessarily have to do that,” Chris Davis said earlier this offseason on a conference call with reporters. “I think at this point, there are a lot of possibilities, a lot of different scenarios that are on the table, just as far as a logistics standpoint is concerned. Obviously I would love to play as many games as possible, but I also want people to be safe."
The Orioles, with fans standing outside the outfield gates, jumped out to a six-run first inning against the White Sox and didn’t look back. Davis hit a three-run home run off Jeff Samardzija to put the Orioles up 4-0 and in control. Due to the lack of noise in the stadium, Orioles play-by-play broadcaster Gary Thorne’s home run call could be heard on the White Sox broadcast.
Despite the seriousness of why there was no crowd, players took the chance to sign fake autographs, toss a baseball into the stands to try to lighten the mood.
In perhaps the day’s most light-hearted moment, Thorne compared the game to a day at the Masters Golf Tournament. He then announced Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones’ at-bat in the seventh inning, which ended in a double to the outfield wall, in a hushed tone.
Baltimore beat Chicago 8-2 that day on the back of their big first inning. Ubaldo Jimenez received the win after seven innings pitched. He allowed three hits and two runs — none earned — on 89 pitches.
Now, with so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season for MLB, there has been talk of repeating that same scenario from 2015 and playing games with no fans due reduce the spread and risk of coronavirus.
While that’s not an ideal scenario for fans and players, it’s something that could be the best shot at seeing live baseball in the 2020 regular season.
“It’s been extremely uplifting to hear the amount of people that are just in love with the game of baseball, they’re infatuated with it,” Davis said on the same call. “They’re ready to see guys out on the field again. I just know that once we get everything squared away and we get kind of a handle on everything, there are going to be a bunch of smiling faces in the ballpark. And I look forward to that day.”
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