Almost 11,000 baseball fans attended the opening game of MLB's National League Championship Series in Arlington, Texas, as crowds were allowed back into stadiums for the first time since March 12.
Austin Riley led off the ninth inning with a tie-breaking homer that sparked a four-run outburst as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 on Monday night on neutral territory.
Riley, the No.9 batter in the Braves lineup, hit a 448-drive off Blake Treinen, who had just entered the game, drawing a loud reaction and some tomahawk-chop chants from the first fans allowed to attend a major league game this season.
About 75 per cent of fans at Globe Life Field appeared compliant with the requirement to wear masks except when "actively" eating or drinking.
Some weren't covering their nose or mouth.
Seats were sold in groups of four at the new 40,518-seat retractable roof stadium, with the empty seats between ticketed sections secured by zip ties to prevent people from sitting in them.
"It was kind of a novel thing because of the new field and there have never been fans in it," said Jeff Wood, a Braves fan who drove about four hours from Little Rock, Arkansas.
"And with this whole COVID thing, I kind of thought about it. Thought it was exciting."
No tickets are being sold for the American League Championship Series between the Houston and Tampa Bay Rays at San Diego's Petco Park.
The Rays won game two 4-2 on Monday to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.
Major League Baseball said it was selling 11,500 tickets per game at Globe Life Field for the series between the Dodgers and the Braves and plans a similar allotment at the same ballpark when it hosts the first neutral-site World Series starting October 20.
Australian Associated Press