It was a long, tense Saturday night at Baltimore’s Camden Yards, where the home team needed extra innings to beat the Red Sox inside the park and thousands of protesters angry over the death of Freddie Gray made their presence felt outside.
Police and news helicopters circled throughout the game, sometimes shining spotlights at the growing crowd of protesters and riot-geared cops beyond the center field fence. Before the bottom of the ninth inning, an announcement was made that fans would not be allowed to leave the stadium because of an “ongoing public safety issue” and when that order was lifted in the bottom of the 10th Orioles officials urged fans to avoid the busy northeast gates.
There were similar scenes last August around Busch Stadium following the death of a black teenager named Michael Brown, who was shot and killed in broad daylight by a white member of the Ferguson Police Department. Freddie Gray, 25, suffered a fatal spinal cord injury on April 12 when Baltimore police officers pinned him to the ground after a foot chase and then loaded him into a van without a safety harness.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, one of the few black players in Major League Baseball, spoke to CSNBaltimore.com’s Rich Dubroff after Saturday night’s 11-inning victory:
“It’s not about what I do for the city, it’s about that it can happen at any other city. An African American is an African American, it doesn’t matter that I’m in Baltimore,” Jones said.
“I just want people to be safe during this issue. It’s a tough issue. I think everybody needs to get all the facts. Stay safe, stay smart. Protest, but let’s not damage our own city. At the end of the day, you got to live here.”
O’s manager Buck Showalter also had some words: “Challenging day for a lot of people, probably a lot more than a baseball game. It’s a game of baseball and those are life issues, so this kind of pales in comparison to what’s going on in my life off the field and what’s going on in our city. Just have to continue to have confidence that we’ll get through it like we get through most things in Baltimore and hopefully learn from it.”
The next seven games on the Orioles’ schedule are at Camden Yards, so this likely isn’t over.