The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Outside of empty Camden Yards, it’s definitely not business as usual

Outside of Pickles Pub, about an hour before the Ghost Game. (Clinton Yates/The Washington Post)

BALTIMORE — With first pitch an hour away, Pickles had exactly seven customers. There were twice as many staffers and media members milling outside the popular bar directly across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. At Slider’s next door, same deal. For Frank & Nic’s, it was nothing but lunch regulars. The decision to close Wednesday’s Orioles-White Sox game to fans, in addition to the overall security measures in place in downtown Baltimore, have left certain places completely stranded. And with the Marriott next door devoid of the conference crowd it usually attracts, those local businesses will likely take a bath today.

[A perfectly normal day, except for the empty stadium]

“I just want things to go back to normal,” said one Pickles bartender, who wouldn’t give his name. “We’re hoping people come and rally around the community, but who knows.”

Out on the corner, Brad Hutcheson was a wearing a gray and orange plaid O’s hat and pushing his baby son in a stroller during a walk. He lives a couple blocks away.

“It’s a really weird situation,” said Hutcheson, a stay-at-home dad and programmer. “I’m from Miami originally, so I’ve seen a lot hurricanes and stuff like that. It feels a lot like that. Everybody’s kind of wondering what’s going to happen next. And yeah, I was there for [Hurricane Andrew in 1992]. So I remember what it was like when they say the National Guard’s going to be there, I was expecting stuff on every corner. I’m actually really glad that they’re using a much lighter touch. Because that’s what I was worried about.”

“I’m going watch it. I know they’ve never done that before. Like, I get that symbolically we have to have the game. And I get that you know, the liability thing, we don’t want people in harm’s way,” said Hutcheson, 40. “But it seems like a weird way to cut the baby in half. That feels odd. What’s going to happen. You gonna hit a home run, they’re gonna hit the siren and nobody’s going to clap? That’s strange.”

[15 things about the empty-crowd game in Baltimore]

There was one military-style vehicle outside, but no real security theater to speak of. Just a ghost town for what everyone here is calling the Ghost Game.