Among the vacant seats at Sunday's Ravens game, there was one left empty for a reason.
The family of Tim Hauer, a longtime Ravens season ticket holder, kept a seat open in his memory during the game against the St. Louis Rams in a gesture that went viral on social media.
Hauer died of a heart attack at age 48 on Nov. 23, 2014, and the Rams game fell a day before the one-year anniversary of his death. For years, Hauer held season tickets with a couple of his best friends, who paid for another two seasons worth of tickets for Christina Hauer, his former wife, and his children Abby and Jacob Hauer.
"Tim loved the Ravens and really instilled that passion for hometown sports and football in both Abby and Jacob," Christina Hauer said.
The trio planned to attend two games this season: Sunday's game — because it was so close to the anniversary of his death — and an upcoming game against the Kansas City Chiefs. This weekend, they chose to leave their fourth seat empty with a sign memorializing Hauer.
That memorial went viral after Abby, 16, posted a photo of the seat to Facebook.
"One year ago, I lost my dad. He taught me everything I know about football and the Ravens, and he brought me to games every season," she captioned a photo of the seat. "Today, I honor him by leaving his seat empty. It would be an honor to be put on the Jumbotron and/or Ravens social media. Love you Dad, GO RAVENS!"
The Ravens' Facebook page picked up her post, saying, "Some things are bigger than the game. This is truly a touching tribute, Abby. We're honored to play for you."
Abby Hauer said she checked her phone at halftime after posting the photo and was surprised to see more than 1,000 people had "liked" it.
"Last night after the game, I saw that the Ravens commented and shared the photo, and I was so shocked that I cried! It was an indescribable feeling for my family and me," she wrote in an email. "I am so thankful to have such a wonderful hometown football team that cares for its fans so much. I will never forget this!"
The post had gathered more than 17,750 "likes" as of Monday afternoon.
"The kids were just ecastatic. Although it's a sad time, there's some joy that could come out of it," Chirstina Hauer said. "This turned into something much bigger than we all anticipated."