Garrett Baldwin lives three blocks from Camden Yards. He wanted to go to the Orioles-White Sox game, but like every other civilian fan, he couldn’t get in. So he paid $250 for a room at the nearby Hilton.
The hotel provides the only public view of the ballfield, through a few select rooms and a patio adjacent to the on-site health club. Baldwin had been at Saturday’s game against the Red Sox, and went to a local bar, Frank and Nic’s, for what he thought would be a celebration of the O’s win. The day turned riotous when the protesters’ route took them past the baseball fans, and clashes between the groups briefly consumed the streets surrounding the stadim, with each side spending subsequent days blaming the other for the viral ugliness.
From the Hilton balcony, there wasn’t a hint of the tension that still consumes large sections of the city other than a pedestrian on the street below carrying a placard reading “Don’t Forget Freddie Gray!”
Baldwin brought up a case of beer and invited friends and family to share in the bizarre experience. They hadn’t shown up by the time the taped national anthem blared from across the street. So he alone shouted “O!”, along with the smattering of Birds fans gathered outside Camden’s gates.
The unreality of the day became thick when O’s slugger Chris Davis got up in the first inning with two men on base. He took a swing and began trotting slowly toward first base as the ball flew toward right field. There was no crowd noise from across the street to help gauge what was going on, and, since the right field fence is one of the few spots not visible from the Hilton, nobody on the patio was sure what they’d just seen. But when Davis touched first and then kept trotting, it finally hit home that he’d homered. Baldwin was the first to process what had happened, and the media folks, who to that point weren’t quite as invested in the proceedings, joined in his celebration. It was a sweet moment.
“Whoooo-hooo!” he screamed, while receiving a reporter’s high-five. “This might be the best game we ever played!”
Then he tried getting the patio dwellers to join him in a “Let’s go O’s!” cheer. Some did.