A scary trip home from the ballpark in Baltimore

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BALTIMORE – I’ve lived in Baltimore for 35 years, and have seen the Orioles win the World Series, the Ravens win the Super Bowl twice. I’ve seen disasters, too, incredible snowstorms, a train accident near Camden Yards that prevented games from being played, but never rioting.

When Oriole Park opened in 1992, I rejoiced. It was about 1 ½ miles from my house. It’s a short drive, perhaps 10 minutes, and usually it’s uneventful.

Monday was anything but uneventful.

I left for the ballpark around 2:45 p.m., and it took 25 minutes to get there. There was tension in the air, and when I went to the Orioles clubhouse, players watched coverage of the riots.

I wanted to believe the game would be played as scheduled, but when word came that most of the gates were closed, I knew that postponement was a possibility.

When the game was scrubbed, I gathered my belongings to head home, knowing I could write at home.

I drove up Paca Street, and though it was still daylight, there were few people and cars. I’ll be home in record time.

When I got to Centre Street, about halfway between my house and the ballpark, dozens of police in riot gear had blocked the street, and I turned right and went up Eutaw Street. There I saw some smashed windows on businesses, and as I drove closer to my house, my heart raced.

It seemed quiet there, but a few blocks from my house, I heard a radio report that a Rite-Aid had been looted. Just then, I saw a car stopped in front of me, and two kids carrying boxes were talking with the driver.

I sped around the car, found a parking space near my house, and watched as the kids carrying those boxes walked down my street.

From 1980-87, I lived in front of that Rite-Aid, five blocks away. Then, I learned that the neighboring discount food store and the hardware store had been looted, too.

I know the people who work in that hardware store. It’s been there ever since I’ve been here.

Looting five blocks from home.

I watched coverage of the riots until it was time for bed. I’ve always been a good sleeper and somehow I slept until my wife woke me up just after seven.

Sleep is a great escape. So is baseball.

I love covering baseball games, and covering my adopted hometown team has been a wonderful experience. The only dangers there are foul balls coming into the press box.

I’d like to experience those dangers again soon. The others I hope to never see again.