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MLB closes Orioles game to fans, shifts weekend series

Baltimore OriolesMLB is responding to unrest in Baltimore with two unique moves: tomorrow’s game will be closed to fans, while this weekend’s series against the Tampa Bay Rays has been shifted from Oriole Park to Tropicana Field.

Games at Oriole Park were disrupted this weekend followed protests in downtown Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. And while the majority of protesters were peaceful — numbering some 100,000 in downtown Baltimore Orioles yesterday — violence did break out at area businesses, where looted took over several stores, including a CVS Pharmacy. More protests are scheduled for this weekend.

That potential for violence caused MLB and the Orioles to make the following changes for the scheduled series against the Chicago White Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and upcoming games:

  • Tonight’s game is postponed. This follows a postponed game last night. They will be made up on May 28 as a doubleheader.
  • Tomorrow’s game is rescheduled from 7:05 p.m. to 2:05 p.m. No fans will be allowed at Oriole Park at Camden Yards; only players, coaches, front-office personnel, media and support staff will be allowed into the ballpark.
  • The upcoming weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays will be moved to Tropicana Field, with the Orioles batting and fielding as the home team.

“After conversations with the Orioles and local officials, we believe that these decisions are in the best interest of fan safety and the deployment of City resources,”said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in a prepared statement. “Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by violence in Baltimore, and everyone in our game hopes for peace and the safety of a great American city.”

There have been very few examples of MLB games impacted by protestors and rioters: in 1992 four Los Angeles Dodgers games were postponed due to riots generated by the Rodney King verdict, while Detroit riots caused changes to a Tigers-Orioles series on July 24-26, 1967, with a remaining game shifted to Baltimore. The Detroit incident was also memorable for the presence of Willie Horton, who came to the riots from the ballpark following a July 23 doubleheader still in uniform, calling for an end to the violence. But MLB is known for changing the schedule when events warrant; as you’ll recall, as recently as September 2013 a Washington Nationals/Atlanta Braves game at Nationals Park was postponed after 12 people were killed in a shooting rampage at nearby Navy Yard.

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