As the Baltimore Orioles took the field at Camden Yards to face the Chicago White Sox on April 29, fans decked out in black and orange rooted for the home team from beyond the stadium’s iron gates.
For the first time in the history of Major League Baseball, a game was played without a single fan in the stands—the only spectators at Oriole Park at Camden Yards that day were players, coaches, credentialed sports reporters, scouts and stadium staff.
The unprecedented decision by MLB stemmed from public safety concerns after riots erupted in Charm City following the police custody death of Freddie Gray. While the details of his arrest and death are murky, it is known that the 25-year-old Gray died of a spinal cord injury sometime after police took him into custody. A video of the arrest purports to show Gray being dragged into a van by officers.
Another dead black man in a low-income neighborhood. Another instance of violently aggressive police officers. Another round of equally aggressive protests. Another burning American city.
In 1992, Los Angeles was that burning city. Last year, it was Ferguson, MO. Soon, another city will burn. And after that, torches will be lit again. Glass will shatter. Men and women will bleed. And in true American fashion, zero lessons will be learned. Why learn a lesson when you can whitewash the incident?
The symbolism of a baseball stadium locking out American citizens is almost too overwhelming. It stinks of lazy writing; a hackneyed script written by a maudlin author. But it’s real. So is the steep fall of an American ideal that likely never existed in the first place.
The best course of action might be to admit defeat, raise our arms and ride the decline.
— Steve Mosco