Jaffe: Orioles-White Sox game closed to fans is a first for MLB

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at SI.com on April 28, 2015:

For the first time in major league history, a game will be played in front of nobody—or at least, no paying fans. In the wake of the postponements of Monday’s and Tuesday’s games at Camden Yards between the Orioles and White Sox due to violent protests in Baltimore, Major League Baseball has approved the Orioles’ decision to close Wednesday’s 2:05 p.m. game to the public. Players, umpires, team officials and media will be the only ones in attendance for the game, which will be televised on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

The Orioles last played on Sunday against the Red Sox. After consulting with city and local officials as well as MLB, their games on Monday and Tuesday evenings were both postponed out of public safety concerns. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Monday and activated the National Guard in an attempt to restore order. Those two postponed games will be made up as a single-admission doubleheader on May 28. Additionally, the team’s three-game series with the Rays—originally scheduled to be played at Camden Yards from Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 3—has been moved to Tropicana Field. The Orioles will serve as the home team and bat last, and they will receive the gate for those three games, minus the expenses incurred by the Rays. The movement of that series will lengthen a Baltimore road trip that already includes series against both New York teams. After Wednesday’s game, the Orioles won’t play at Camden Yards again until May 11, when they face the Blue Jays.

As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, such a game without any fan admittance has never occurred in major league history, according to an MLB source who consulted with baseball historians on the subject. “Behind closed doors” games have taken place many times in international soccer, usually in connection to violence by fans, though other reasons, such as inclement weather and an outbreak of swine flu, have led to such situations as well. Earlier this month, in the Russian Premier League, Torpedo Moscow were ordered to play two games to an empty stadium after fans displayed a Nazi banner. In the United States, empty-house games have happened in high school and college basketball. Memorably, a measles outbreak forced the 1989 Siena College basketball team to play nine games, including three in the ECAC North Atlantic Conference tournament, under quarantine conditions; the team won the tournament and gained an NCAA tournament berth for the first time in school history.

Read the full article here: http://www.si.com/mlb/2015/04/28/orioles-white-sox-camden-yards-closed-fans-baseball-history

Originally published: April 28, 2015. Last Updated: April 28, 2015.