While people have told me how nice Camden Yards in Baltimore is, after witnessing it first hand, I can see why they raved about it. Although it was constructed in 1992, it still feels like a new ballpark, while the use of old style brick gives it a lot of charm. The huge 78 foot long by 50 foot high scoreboard is very cool even though a few of the recently built parks have since copied this feature.
The B&O Warehouse building beyond the right-field fence is the longest building on the the East Coast at 1,016 feet long, and it was fully renovated to house the team offices as well as several shops and restaurants. It acts as a very impressive backdrop in right field where 1970’s slugger Boog Powell has a famous barbecue kiosk outside between the building and the stadium. Also, a statue of Cal Ripken Jr. adorns that entrance to the stadium from Eutaw Street. Ripken is, of course, renowned for playing 2,632 consecutive games which is a ridiculously high record given the recent spate of injuries afflicting current players. Camden Yards also features an interactive area for younger fans
as well as a statue of the mascot:
Having arrived at the game early, I had the opportunity to get an autograph from Steve Pearce – the Orioles’ hottest hitter.
This game was played on one of those hot, sticky July days when the mercury tops 90 and you start sweating just by sitting. Thunderstorms loomed close by from the very first pitch. While I wanted to root for the home team Orioles, part of me did want to see the Texas starting pitcher, Miles Mikolas, do well. After all, it was his first major league start, and I imagined the nerves that I would feel if I were in that situation. He is a big guy at 6 foot 5, and if he was nervous, it didn’t show. For most of the game it was Miles’ night. He rolled through five innings, giving up only one run (on an Adam Jones homer), walking none, and striking out four. Meanwhile, Orioles’ starter Chris Tillman struggled so the Rangers stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning.
It looked like a fairly dull game until everything changed in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the Rangers up 4-1, suddenly Miles looked shaky. After one out, he walked the next batter on four pitches. “Uh-oh”, my Dad said, “he’s starting to lose it. Maybe they should yank him before the wheels come off.” After Miles walked yet another batter, the manager did finally replace him with Jason Frasor. The Orioles rudely greeted Frasor with a sacrifice fly, a single, a walk, and another single, and the game was tied! Miles would not be getting a win in his first start. The game, however, was suddenly exciting.
After a rousing 7th inning stretch, the Orioles’ fans anticipated the best. At the plate was the light hitting infielder, Ryan Flaherty, batting .205 and known more for his glove than his bat. Suddenly, that unmistakable sound of a wood bat hitting a fast ball squarely on the sweet spot echoed throughout the stadium. Flaherty hit one of the longest home runs that I have ever seen. It headed over the seats and Boog’s BBQ towards the B&O Warehouse. Unfortunately it caromed off a pole stopping its trajectory or it would have been interesting to see how far it would have traveled. The crowd oohed and aahed.
The Orioles then scratched out another run to make the score 6-4. In the bottom of the 8th, the grounds crew swiftly poised themselves by the tarp on the side of the field. It was perplexing as it did not seem any more likely to rain at that moment than during the previous seven innings. Well, they must have received some good information because the skies opened up. Everybody scrambled for cover! After a one hour and 38 minute rain delay, the game resumed. Orioles’ closer Zach Britton retired the Rangers 1-2-3 for an anticlimactic ending in front of the diehard 200-300 fans who stayed until the bitter end.
I really look forward to returning to Camden Yards next year. Since my sister will be studying at the University of Maryland, it is very possible.