Saturday, July 9 – Orioles 3, Angels 2
Oriole Park at Camden Yards was my “home” park until the Nationals came to Washington. I attended the park’s opening game in 1992, its All-Star Game in 1993, and shared season tickets for about 10 years. As one fan’s shirt said, it set the tone for the new ballparks that followed. But it has one huge drawback: there is no view of the field from its concourses; you enter the seating areas through tunnels.
Access: An easy drive up I-95 and the short I-395 spur dropped me right at the ballpark. When I shared season tickets, I could then turn immediately into reserved parking. This time, I had to drive two blocks north of the park to a garage, where parking cost $25. A Baltimore light rail line also stops right at the stadium. So does a commuter rail line that runs to and from Washington, but only on workdays.
Seats/pricing: Fifth row of the upper deck looking from home plate straight up the third base line cost $42.00.
View: Downtown Baltimore is the centerpiece of the view past center field. The locally iconic Bromo-Seltzer clock tower used to be a feature, but it now is blocked from most of the seats by a large plain boxy hotel to the north. From Eutaw Street, you can still see the clock.
Food: A nice variety from hot dogs to crab cakes is available, but the signature location, as it has been for years, is Boog’s B B Q on Eutaw Street. “Boog” is Boog Powell, the home-run hitting first baseman who helped the Orioles to four American League championships and two World Series titles during his stay in Baltimore from 1961 to 1974. His barbecue stand opened along with Oriole Park in 1992. I had the pork sandwich with an array of self-added toppings and sauce. It was a bargain at $10.00. The double-meat version at $15.00 would have been overwhelming. As I ordered and ate, Boog (who looks like he could put away the double-meat version with ease), posed for pictures and signed autographs for a line of fans.
Beer: Nothing very special here. Regular size servings of a few crafts at $9.50, premium at $9.00 and mass market at $8.00.
Crowd: 43,288. A first-place home team, a clear day, and a Manny Machado garden gnome giveaway combined to essentially sell out the park. O’s games, especially in good weather, have a very high percentage of orange-clad fans. They’ve been known for years for the “O” yell during the National Anthem at the line beginning, “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner . . .” A much newer chant comes now when shortstop J. J. Hardy comes to bat. The announcer says “the shortstop, number 2,” and then thousands yell in unison with the announcer: “J. J. Hardy.” Somehow, the initials and rhythm make it work.
Men’s Rooms: Clean.
Neighborhood: The immediate neighborhood is Eutaw Street, inside the turnstiles and alongside the warehouse behind right and right-center fields that visually defines Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The main team store, a separate outlet team store, various food and beverage stops, and even commercial tents dot the street. Outside the park, numerous restaurants and bars dot the street to the north, and the tourist-centric Inner Harbor is just a short walk to the east. The Baltimore Ravens’ NFL stadium is just to the south, across parking lots.
Arts and visuals: A Babe Ruth statue stands on the plaza behind center field, close to where The Bambino’s father ran a bar in early 20th century Baltimore. Oriole greats such as Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer, and Eddie Murray are honored with large, modernistic, metal, block, uniform numbers.
Baseball Moment: A balk. The Orioles trailed 2-1 in the seventh inning when Jonathan Schoop singled, then moved to second on a J. J. Hardy single and third on a sacrifice. Joe Smith relieved and promptly dropped the ball during his pitching motion. The balk brought in Schoop with the tying run. The Orioles won with another run in the eighth and a game-ending double play in the ninth.