Orioles

Quick Links

A look back at the Orioles’ and White Sox crowdless game five years ago

A look back at the Orioles’ and White Sox crowdless game five years ago

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.”

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE MLB NEWS:

Quick Links

Who the Orioles could pick at No. 2 in 2020 MLB Draft, according to one expert

Who the Orioles could pick at No. 2 in 2020 MLB Draft, according to one expert

In the 2019 MLB Draft, the Baltimore Orioles took a major step toward rebuilding their roster and farm system by selecting catcher Adley Rutschman No. 1 overall. The switch-hitting backstop projects to become the cornerstone of the franchise. This year, the team can add another major piece in the 2020 MLB Draft as they have the second overall pick.

Though the draft has been shortened from 40 rounds to just five, it doesn't truly impact what Baltimore will do at No. 2. There, they will still have an opportunity to select the next piece of their future, and plenty of good options will be available.

But, unlike last year where Rutchsman was the shoo-in all along, the choices are not as clear cut in 2020. MLB Pipeline senior writer Jim Callis, who has closely studied the group of prospects, believes there are a few different ways the Orioles could go.

“I don’t think it’s a clear cut decision at No. 2 yet," Callis told MASN's Steve Melewski.

When it comes to who Callis could see Baltimore selecting, the dream-scenario would be Spencer Torkelson out of Arizona State University. However, it's considered a dream because the most likely outcome is that the Detriot Tigers will take Torkelson first overall. The first baseman has a special bat according to Callis and resembles the talent Rutschman has demonstrated at the plate.

Though there is a slim chance of it happening, the idea of those two one day sharing a lineup card in Baltimore would have the Orioles over the moon with excitement.

“To image those two guys in the middle of the lineup," Callis said. "Woo, that would be pretty exciting.”

Yet, if Torkelson does go No. 1, there is still plenty of talent available in the draft class. A name that comes to mind for Callis is Vanderbilt's Austin Martin. The position player asserted himself as a top prospect after his 2019 collegiate season in which he led the SEC in batting average (.392) and on-base percentage (.486) all while helping his team dominate the toughest conference in baseball and claim a College World Series title.

In Martin, the Orioles could be getting another reliable bat for years and years to come, one Callis claims to be the "best pure hitter in the draft." However, Martin's major area of concern is defense, as many are still unsure as to what his best position is. 

“I think there’s some questions as to where he’s gonna play," Callis said of Martin. “Is he a center fielder, a third baseman, an offensive second baseman? That’s a little unclear.”

After struggling in the infield, largely due to an inability to consistently make the throws from the left side of the diamond, Martin made the move to center field. However, due to the shortened 2020 season, he lost valuable reps in the outfield. Despite that, Callis sees that and one other option as Martin's best spot in the pros.

“My guess is he’s going to be a center fielder or second baseman," Callis said.

If the Orioles are not sold on Martin, or want to grab a player of similar skill but for a little less price, Nick Gonzales out of New Mexico State could be a fit as well. Versatile, he led the NCAA in batting in 2019 with a .423 average.

Baltimore could also decide it wants to add a pitcher at No. 2 overall, and based on how Callis views that portion of the draft class, it could be a beneficial decision. After a down year for pitchers in 2019, things look a lot better in 2020.

“[2019] was not a good year for college pitching. It was probably, I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, the worst draft I’ve seen in terms of first-round caliber college arms," Callis said. "This year, college pitching is a strength. There’s a lot of good college pitching.”

The best, according to Callis, is Texas A&M's Asa Lacy. The left-handed starter was off to a strong start to the 2020 season (3-0, 0.75 ERA) before games were canceled. The Orioles could always use another arm to one day rely upon at the Major League level, and Callis sees Lacy as the best prospect to fit that mold.

Even with Lacy's potential, the talented pitching class may sway Baltimore away from him. The Orioles also hold the No. 30 and No. 39 picks in the draft in addition to their first-round selection, and Callis has a feeling that other very good arms will be available.

“There’s gonna be really good pitchers available at 30," Callis said. "Much more so than I think the hitters that will be available at 30.”

With the draft just a couple of weeks away, Martin, Gonzales and Lacy are seen as the three most likely options for the Orioles. No matter who the team ends up selecting with the No. 2 overall pick, Callis believes that they will become a big part of Baltimore's future success. A few years down the line, the 2020 class should have a good reputation in Callis' eyes.

“It’s the first year of the decade. I would bet that we look back in history and this would be one of the top two or three draft classes of the 2020s," Callis said.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE ORIOLES NEWS:

Quick Links

Glove Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter's HR vs. Orioles in 1996 ALCS is up for auction

Glove Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter's HR vs. Orioles in 1996 ALCS is up for auction

Orioles and Yankees fans, and plenty of other baseball supporters, will forever remember the name Jeffrey Maier. Now, if they want to, they can own an item of his that will always be a part of MLB history.

Maier's glove from Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS is now up for auction through Lelands Auctions, according to The Action Network's Darren Rovell. The minimum bid on the item is $2,500.

For those who need a refresher -- sorry Orioles fans -- a 12-year-old Maier made his mark During Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between Baltimore and the New York Yankees. The Orioles held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. With a young Derek Jeter stepping up to the plate, Maier was a fan planted at the front of the right-field stands. Jeter sent a ball his way, and Maier reached out and grabbed the "home run."

Home run is in parenthesis because the argument to this day is that Orioles' right fielder Tony Tarasco was in a position to potentially catch the ball as it was not going over the wall, but Maier interferes with the play. Despite evidence to support that, it was called in the Yankees favor.

New York would then go on to win the game in extra innings, shifting the momentum in the series and eventually advancing to the World Series. For Yankees fans, Maier could be viewed as a small hero. As for those in Baltimore, he carries a similar reputation to Steve Bartman. 

New Yorkers may want the glove as a symbol from their 1996 World Series run, while Baltimore fans already have some ideas for what they would do with the tainted piece of history.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE ORIOLES NEWS: