Chicago White Sox suffer 8-2 defeat to Orioles in first MLB game to be played behind closed doors due to Baltimore riots

  • It was due to a citywide curfew imposed on Baltimore following riots
  • Looting and rioting broke out on Monday after the funeral of Freddie Gray
  • Gray was a black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody 

With tempers still smoldering in riot-torn Baltimore and nearby neighborhoods clearing out rubble and debris, the Orioles played a baseball game on Wednesday.

This wasn't for the fans, because there weren't any at Camden Yards.

The game was held behind closed doors, and the Orioles and Chicago White Sox played because it was considered to be the best way to fill out the schedule for both teams. 

The Baltimore Orioles celebrate following 8-2 victory against the Chicago White Sox at an empty Oriole Park 

The Baltimore Orioles celebrate following 8-2 victory against the Chicago White Sox at an empty Oriole Park 

Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez gets ready to work Jose Abreu during the sixth inning at Camden Yards 

Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez gets ready to work Jose Abreu during the sixth inning at Camden Yards 

Orioles manager Buck Showalter does a media interview following his side's victory in front of swathes of empty seats 

Orioles manager Buck Showalter does a media interview following his side's victory in front of swathes of empty seats 

The media sit in the press box at the stadium as they covered the first Major League game to take place behind closed doors 

The media sit in the press box at the stadium as they covered the first Major League game to take place behind closed doors 

Chicago White Sox's Melky Cabrera wanders in the outfield during the first inning at Orioles Park 

Chicago White Sox's Melky Cabrera wanders in the outfield during the first inning at Orioles Park 

The game between Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox will be the first behind closed doors in history

The game between Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox will be the first behind closed doors in history

It is due to a citywide 10pm to 5am curfew imposed due to rioting, as the Oriole Park will be empty

It is due to a citywide 10pm to 5am curfew imposed due to rioting, as the Oriole Park will be empty

The timing worked for baseball, not so much for Baltimore. It was an unusual move by Major League Baseball, which usually errs on the side of caution in the wake of tragedy.

Baseball games were cancelled after riots ignited in Los Angeles and terrorists attacked New York and Washington. Baseball put off the World Series in 1989 after an earthquake hit San Francisco.

In Baltimore, after a drug store was set on fire about four miles from the ballpark and the National Guard was summoned to restore order, they played a game because this was the only planned visit by this season by the White Sox. The postponed games on Monday and Tuesday were to be made up as part of a doubleheader on May 28, but there was seemingly nowhere to go on the schedule with Wednesday's game.

So they moved up the starting time by five hours to 2:05 p.m. to beat the 10 o'clock curfew and had the teams go at it before 47,000 empty seats. 

'We have a schedule so we've got to get games in,' Chicago second baseman Gordon Beckham said. 'We can't just miss all three games and expect to make them up down the line. I mean we'll have no off days for the rest of the year.

'So, we at least have to get this one in.'

Just about everyone who put on a uniform understood the circumstances. Though no property around the ballpark was damaged, the city was hurting and here they were, playing a baseball game to preserve the integrity of the schedule.

'It is strange. The commissioner of baseball made a decision,' said Gov. Larry Hogan. 'I'm glad that we don't have tens of thousands of fans down there. Even though things appear to be calm, having tens of thousands of people in that part of the city, that's where our command center is operating.'

On a scale of what was significant to Baltimore on this day, the Orioles' 20th game of the season wasn't exactly at the top of the list.

'It makes you realize how unimportant really in a lot of ways this is compared to some things that are going on,' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. 

'You try to keep that mind and look at things realistically, where this fits in the scheme of things. You prioritize what's important and we tried to do that.' 

Protesters gather during a 10pm curfew in Baltimore as the riots have been continuing in the city

Protesters gather during a 10pm curfew in Baltimore as the riots have been continuing in the city

A protester holds a sign amid clouds of smoke as riot police get closer to the demonstrator 

A protester holds a sign amid clouds of smoke as riot police get closer to the demonstrator 

Looting and rioting broke out on Monday just hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man

Looting and rioting broke out on Monday just hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man

Police and National Guardsmen patrol in the wake of protests for the death of Gray in Baltimore

Police and National Guardsmen patrol in the wake of protests for the death of Gray in Baltimore

A man sits on a bicycle in front of a line of police officers in riot gear ahead of the 10pm to 5am curfew

A man sits on a bicycle in front of a line of police officers in riot gear ahead of the 10pm to 5am curfew

Athletes are paid well to play when they're told, no matter what the sport.

'There's nothing those guys can do about it. They're a team,' said 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who played in college at Maryland. 'They have no control over what just happened. This is just how the world is. It has to be like this. They're going to have to play no matter what.'

Showalter hopes this game can serve as the first step toward getting Baltimore back on its feet.

'We've made quite a statement as a city, some good and some bad,' he said. 'Now, let's get on with taking the statements we've made and create a positive. I want to be a rallying force for our city.'

Their intentions may have been in the right place, but seemingly not much else.

Playing the game without any fans in attendance was both a good and a bad thing. The team didn't divert any police from doing their job around the city, but the people of Baltimore didn't get a chance to turn the page by watching the home team play at Camden Yards. 

Carmelo Anthony, a Baltimore native, issued a statement on Instagram asking people to 'protect our city'

Carmelo Anthony, a Baltimore native, issued a statement on Instagram asking people to 'protect our city'

Ray Lewis said he will stay in Maryland to help out instead of travelling to cover the NFL draft on Thursday

Ray Lewis said he will stay in Maryland to help out instead of travelling to cover the NFL draft on Thursday

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, who plays in nearby DC, wrote that 'violence isn't the answer'
Chris Canty said earlier: 'If you're going to engage in civil disobedience, it needs to be nonviolent'

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, who plays in nearby DC, wrote that 'violence isn't the answer', while Chris Canty said earlier: 'If you're going to engage in civil disobedience, it needs to be nonviolent'

Paul Pierce, a California native, said he learned violence was not the answer after seeing the LA riots

Paul Pierce, a California native, said he learned violence was not the answer after seeing the LA riots

'Sports brings people together - black, white, or any different,' Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. 'For those three hours, you can have beers, nachos and some Boog's (barbecue) and forget about our daily lives.

'But today, we're just going to have to play a Major League Baseball game without fans. I think that's first time in history.'

Must the game go on?

'We're doing the right thing,' Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said. 'I'm not real happy about playing in an empty stadium. That's one of the reasons that we look forward to coming home so much, playing in front of our fans. But we also understand that there's a bigger picture here.'

That's true, but the bigger question is whether they should have been playing at all.

'There are a lot more important issues going on outside the stadium,' Orioles left-hander Zach Britton said. 'It kind of makes you realize how small baseball is compared to some of the other issues in the U.S. and around the world.

Justin Tucker, one of the top kickers in the NFL, said he was praying for people in Baltimore and the country

Justin Tucker, one of the top kickers in the NFL, said he was praying for people in Baltimore and the country

Steve Smith told his followers 'prayer is needed' and that looting and rioting is 'only punishing ourselves'

Steve Smith told his followers 'prayer is needed' and that looting and rioting is 'only punishing ourselves'