For those of us who make a habit of reporting to ballparks and stadiums four hours before first pitch, the day started like any other workday. There is nothing quite like a 40,000-seat baseball yard at rest: before the vendors start hawking beers and brats; before the public-address announcer booms his voice toward distant bleachers.
Before the fans replace silence with buzz.
This was April 29, 2015, a glorious spring afternoon in Baltimore, a bright sun filling an impossibly blue sky, and even as it was celebrating its silver anniversary there was still no better place on earth to spend a day than Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the civic jewel by the Inner Harbor, next door to where Babe Ruth’s old man once tended bar.
Only on this day, that wasn’t an option for anyone other than “essential personnel” — baseball players for the Orioles and Chicago White Sox, in other words, and some groundskeepers — plus a handful of media allowed in to record that this game would, indeed, be played to specification and to conclusion.
Baltimore was in the midst of a turbulent week of unrest. Freddie Gray, 25 years old, had died after being injured while in police custody. The…