Baltimore Orioles play to a crowd of ... zero? (+video)
Wednesday's game between the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox was the first game in Major League Baseball history to be played to an empty stadium.
In baseball, records are an integral part of the game. And even though Americans have been playing the game for more than a century and a half, new records are made every year.
On Wednesday, a new, if dubious, Major League Baseball record was made when the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox took the field at Baltimore's Camden Yards.
As protests continue in the city of Baltimore, over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, the Orioles closed Wednesday's game to the public, marking first time in history not a single spectator will be in attendance for a MLB game.
Violent protests have shaken Baltimore this week. Buildings and cars have been burned, and stores have been looted as police clashed with rioters. Providing a police detail for spectators of a baseball game is not a high priority while the city is still in turmoil, the Washington Post reported. The first two games of the series, on Monday and Tuesday, were postponed, but due to the difficulty of scheduling make-up dates the teams decided to play Wednesday afternoon.
“We strongly believe that at this point Baltimore needs to focus its resources on restoring calm,” Orioles spokesman Greg Bader told the Washington Post. “That’s everybody’s priority right now, including ours.”
However, there is no doubt this may have been one of the strangest games in recent memory, for the players and the handful of journalists who covered the game. Fans who bought tickets to this week's games will be allowed to trade them for any other home game this season.
And for the record: The Orioles won 8-2.
Though the game's attendance will be officially recorded as "N/A," one must go all the way back to September 28, 1882 to find a game with such a paltry attendance figure. In the second-to-last game of the season between the Troy (N.Y.) Trojans and the Worcester (Mass.) Ruby Legs of the National League, all of six diehard fans took in the game at the Worcester Driving Park Grounds, according to the Baltimore Sun who spoke with official MLB historian John Thorn.
The game featured one-time home-run king Roger Connor (he hit four that season) on the Trojans who would retire in 1897 with a record 138 home-runs, a record that would stand for 23 years, until Babe Ruth overtook him. The National League, an up-and-coming professional baseball league that was looking to expand to bigger markets, had notified both franchises that they would not be renewed for the 1883 season. Once the teams' fans realized their teams were folding, attendance suffered mightily.
In the modern era, the worst-attended MLB game occurred on April 17, 1979 when only 250 people showed up to the Oakland Coliseum to watch their Athletics defeat the Seattle Mariners 6-5 on a night where poor weather and a noncompetitive team were blamed for the meager showing, according to VICE Sports.