White Sox-Orioles game will be played Wednesday, closed to public

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Orioles and White Sox will play Wednesday at Camden Yards in a game that will be closed to the public.

The revised plan was announced Tuesday after widespread public unrest in Baltimore forced a postponement of a White Sox-Orioles game for the second consecutive day. The Orioles said they made the decision after consulting with Major League Baseball as well as city and local officials.

Monday's game was postponed around 40 minutes before the scheduled 7:05 p.m. start. The decision came after riots broke out following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died April 19 of spinal cord and other injuries suffered while in police custody. Tuesday's game, also scheduled for 7:05, was called off shortly after 11 a.m.

The game Wednesday will start at 2:05 p.m. ET.

"All of the decisions in Baltimore were driven first by the desire to insure the safety of fans, players, umpires and stadium workers," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Only after we were comfortable that those concerns had been addressed did we consider competitive issues and the integrity of the schedule."

An MLB spokesman told ESPN's Outside The Lines that the league is not aware of any other time that a major league game has been played, by design, without spectators allowed in to watch.

In addition, MLB spokesman Matt Bourne said the league office would not comment as to how, if at all, it would compensate the Orioles for the lost attendance.

The Orioles also announced that their upcoming weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays, which originally was scheduled to be played in Baltimore, instead will be played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Orioles will play as the home team in the three-game series, which begins Friday.

"It's all about what's best for the city and the safety of our people," Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the AP. "The last thing you want to do is put the fans in harm's way. You have to err on the side of safety."

Two sources told ESPN's Darren Rovell that it is already established that when a home team is forced to play on the road due to extenuating circumstances, it gets 100 percent of the revenues minus the costs.

The games against the White Sox from Monday and Tuesday will be made up as a single-admission doubleheader on May 28.The White Sox were in Baltimore for a three-game series that had been slated to start Monday, and it was their only planned visit on the schedule.

"The only disadvantage may be for the home team because you kind of feed off the energy," White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton said of playing in an empty stadium. "When you're on the road there's not much energy in your favor usually. If anything Baltimore may be slighted a little bit."

Since 1987, the lowest attendance has been 746 when the White Sox hosted Toronto at Comiskey Park on April 9, 1997, according to Stats LLC. The New York Yankees' home game against the White Sox on Sept. 22, 1966, had a listed attendance of 413.

Now the White Sox are on the verge of performing in front of no one.

"Major League Baseball is doing everything they can to be safe. They're taking precautions," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "To be safe is the best thing."

The Baseball Hall of Fame and John Thorn, MLB's official historian, said they did not think there ever had been a closed-doors big league game, although there have been instances in the minor leagues.

Thorn said the lowest attendance for a major league game appears to be six when Worcester hosted Troy in a National League matchup on Sept. 28, 1882.

The Baltimore mayor's office said earlier Tuesday there were 144 vehicle fires, 15 structure fires and nearly 200 arrests in the unrest Monday. At least 20 officers were hurt, including six who were hospitalized and one in critical condition after a building fire, police said. Baltimore was under a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew beginning Tuesday, and all Baltimore public schools were closed as athletes with area ties, including Ray Lewis andCarmelo Anthony, pleaded for an end to the unrest.

Also Tuesday, the Baltimore Ravens canceled their NFL draft party event, scheduled for Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium, "out of respect to the curfew in Baltimore."Lewis intends to remain at home in Maryland rather than work the draft in Chicago for ESPN.

"I felt that it was more important for me to stay in Baltimore and try to help the city I love," Lewis said in a statement. "I did not feel right leaving the city at this time."

Major League Baseball has postponed and shifted games in the past because of unrest.

In 1992, the Dodgers had four games postponed in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict.

In 1967, the Orioles and Tigers had a game postponed because of riots in Detroit. The next two games were shifted to Baltimore.

ESPN.com's Doug Padilla and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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