While many news outlets have chosen to focus on the ongoing societal problems and inequalities that lie behind the Baltimore riots, the Flipside would like to take a moment to recognize perhaps the hardest, and certainly the most ignored burden that one Baltimore resident has had to carry: the Herculean task of being the Baltimore Orioles’ PA announcer.
For James McMasters, 52, resident of nearby Fells Point, MD, every aspect of his daily routine has become difficult. Where he once used to yell, “If you are the owner of a ’95 Toyota Matrix, your car is being towed!” he now yells, “If you are the owner of a ’95 Toyota Matrix, your car’s flaming shell is being used as a repository for trash!” or, “If you are the owner of a ’95 Toyota Matrix, the social injustices and institutionalized police violence you face on a daily basis remain uneroded!”
While this aspect of announcing has obviously been a challenge for McMasters, other elements of his occupation have also been greatly affected by the recent riots. Now, when McMasters does his customary 7th-inning appeal to the fans to start “the wave,” he simply lifts both of his arms slowly and sadly, staring out into a sea of empty seats that are resolutely not waving. McMasters relates that he even once tried to start a sing-along of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but in the end he was the only one singing in a warbling tenor, pitching his voice into the void.
McMasters is still hopeful, though, sitting high up in his seat above a blank sea of plastic chairs and hot dog wrappers. “My wife cooked meatloaf,” he says, a single tear running down his cheek.