As tempers smoldered and the cleanup of riot-ravaged Baltimore continued outside, the city's beloved Orioles beat the White Sox in an eerily empty ballpark Wednesday afternoon.
"The last 72 hours in this city have been tumultuous to say the least."
The game at Orioles Park at Camden Yards was played out before 47,000 empty seats amid safety concerns for spectators. Games on Monday and Tuesday had been postponed, but Wednesday's game had to be played to keep to the rigid Major League Baseball schedule. Inside the stadium, an unfamiliar quiet descended on the field.
"It’s going to feel like a spring training back-field game," first baseman Steve Pearce said before the first pitch. "We don’t have a choice. We have to go out there and play. No matter what the circumstances are, we’ve got to find a way to deal with it," he told The Baltimore Sun.
Scheduling the game 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.
Players on the Orioles, who won by a sore of 8-2, seemed glad to get back into their routine - even if there were no fans to witness the game.
"The last 72 hours in this city have been tumultuous to say the least," outfielder Adam Jones, whose extensive community work in Baltimore has included the building of recreation centers, told the Baltimore Sun. "We've seen good, we've seen bad, we've seen ugly. Our games canceled, postponed, relocated, a city that is hurting, a city that needs its heads of the city to step up and help the ones who are hurting."
Slugger Chris Davis, whose three-run homer in the first inning gave Baltimore all the scoring it would need, said playing baseball beat watching the news after spending much of the week, like others in the city, transfixed by images of protests, rioting and looting.
"I watched the news more in the last couple of days than I have in my whole entire life," Davis said. "Just to see the anger, the emotion, the frustration of the city the last few days was shocking. It's frustrating. I understand why people are upset and rightfully so. It's unfortunate that it's escalated to what it has.
The postponed games on Monday and Tuesday were to be made up as part of a doubleheader on May 28.
"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."
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.
"Sports brings people together â black, white, or any different," 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, he said, before adding, correctly: "I think that's first time in history."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.