Tim Kurkjian’s Baseball Fix – When baseball played without fans in Baltimore

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You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we’ll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.

ON THIS DAY IN 2015, there were no fans.

The riots in Baltimore postponed two White Sox-Orioles games until this date when a game was played. But, for everyone’s safety, no fans were allowed inside Oriole Park. I covered that game; it was one of the eeriest stories I’ve ever written. We were not allowed to leave the press box. There would be no presence in the stadium seats. We sat quietly and watched the Orioles beat the White Sox, 8-2, in one of the strangest games ever.

The full “On this date …” archive

In the first inning, the Orioles’ Chris Davis hit a home run; he circled the bases in total silence. We are so conditioned to hear crowd noise, the reaction to something important happening, and yet there was none. “You could hear the ball land,” said then-Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “You know how during early batting practice, with no one in the park, you can hear where the ball lands? I love that sound. That’s what it was like that day.”

It was so quiet, Showalter said, “I could hear every word said by Gary Thorn and Jim Palmer (the play-by-play man and the color commentator for MASN). That was weird. There was no walk-up music. Guys just walked to the plate and hit. I think the game lasted like 2:05 (it was exactly 2 hours, 3 minutes. But you had to be careful what you said to the guy in the on-deck circle, or to the guys on the bench, because everyone could hear it. You really had to be careful around the umpires because they could hear everything. It was so quiet, we didn’t even need the bullpen phone. I just yelled, ‘Hey, better get (Zack) Britton up!”’

Caleb Joseph was the catcher for the Orioles that day. “It was the strangest thing,” he said. “I was catching a major league game, and I could hear the announcements being made in the press box. I had never been able to hear that before. One of the announcements was some interesting fact, and I’m thinking, ‘That’s so cool. I didn’t know that.”’

Other baseball notes from April 29

In 1988, the Orioles, after a 0-21 start, finally won their first game, 9-0 over the White Sox. Catcher Terry Kennedy said the team was glad it was over, “but there was no celebration. There was no relief. We were all just so embarrassed to even be a part of this.”

In 1931, Wes Ferrell threw a no-hitter, hit a home run and a double, and drove in four runs. He might be the best hitting pitcher of all time. In 1935, for the Red Sox, he hit a walk-off home run in a game he started. The next day, as a pinch-hitter, he hit another walk-off homer. The Red Sox wouldn’t win consecutive games with a walk-off homer for another 70 years. And it will never happen again that a pitcher will hit walk-off homers in consecutive days.

In 1934, Hall of Famer Luis Aparacio was born. Man, it was fun watching him play shortstop.

In 1986, Boston’s Roger Clemens became the first pitcher to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game. His next start, also against the Mariners, came five days later. The day before that game, Clemens was interviewed by a confused TV guy in Seattle. He said to Clemens, on the air, “Roger, the last time you faced the Mariners, you struck out 30.” Clemens, remarkably patient, said, “Well, it was actually only 20.” The TV guy patted Clemens on the shoulder, then said, “Well, maybe 30 the next time.” To which, Clemens should have said, “Yeah, I’m going to pitch 10 innings and strike out everyone.”

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