Baltimore Orioles – June 29

I’ve wanted to go to Camden Yards for a game since I watched the 1993 All-Star Game and saw what a perfect-looking ballpark it was.

And on June 29, after driving up from Salisbury, MD, I was here for my first Baltimore Orioles game.

A lot can be said about Orioles Park at Camden Yards (the ballpark’s official name). It set the standard for present-day facilities, giving fans modern amenities and conveniences with a tip of the hat to the parks of yesteryear. Instead of building a giant cement mound and filling it with seats, the architects on this project took time to use the area’s existing environment and features of some of the game’s greatest historical parks to build Camden Yards.

I love staying at hotels with views of the ballpark I’m visiting. I did so last fall during my trip to see the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. For this trip, I booked two nights in a field-facing room in the Hilton Baltimore, which looks directly out onto the field.

After checking in around 2 p.m., I went up to my room, looked out the window and saw that some guys were already throwing:

And here’s a panorama looking out from my 17th floor room:

I knew I could get into the ballpark at 5 p.m. for the night’s game against St. Louis, so that gave me a few hours to explore before getting in. I took a few prerequisite shots in the area of Eutaw Street. Here are the Sports Legends Museum and the famous Babe Ruth statue:

I also looked around the pavilion at the end of the Eutaw Street, which features statues of the Orioles retired numbers. Here’s the #8 of Cal Ripken, Jr.:

I bought a ticket in the upper deck …

… and set out to walk around the ballpark:

After touring around, I went down to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area to check it out. There are a ton of sights to see in this area, which is a big tourist spot. No visit to Baltimore is complete without a stop here, but make sure you book yourself considerable time.

Back at the Eutaw Street gate, there was a small group of people waiting for the 5 p.m. gate opening:

The line moved quickly, and soon I was in.

I took an immediate right turn and went down into the center field stands for batting practice. Normally, I’d spend the entire BP in this area hoping to catch a ball. But I’ve gathered 25 balls, give or take, so far this trip and I felt like walking around more to see the sights. Before heading back to Eutaw Street, I took this panorama during BP:

Eutaw Street is full of things to see and do. There’s the Orioles team shop, numerous concession stands and historical information such as the Orioles Hall of Fame:

There are a couple key concession spot to hit — Boog’s BBQ and the Jack Daniels stand. Look at the chickens grilling at the latter:

My next stop was the flag court, which is full of fans both during BP and once the game begins:

I also took a quick walk through the very expensive team shop:

Once the inner gates opened 30 minutes after Eutaw Street opened up, I decided to go down to field level and watch the Cardinals hit from close up. Here are a couple guys who were watching:

Of course, that’s St. Louis hitting coach Mark McGwire and manager Tony La Russa. I’d really hoped to see Albert Pujols on this trip, but since he was injured a few weeks back, he wasn’t around. It was neat, however, to see the Major Leaguers up close. Here’s Skip Schumaker:

After BP wrapped up, I went back into the concourse and saw a number of neat things, such as a silent auction:

Lots of historical information (I’m too young to remember when the O’s were actually good, but they do have quite a history):

And a signed Michael Jordan Birmingham Barons jersey available for a cool $2,500:

I went back to the stands around 6:30 p.m. to watch some guys warm up. Here’s Vladimir Guerrero:

And Derrek Lee and J.J. Hardy:

Before first pitch, I found a spot along the wall in the flag court and took up a spot with this view:

Then, an inning later, went up into the stands behind the right field foul pole after I’d made a quick stop at Boog’s BBQ to get a BBQ turkey sandwich:

It was amazing. I cringe at spending $10 on a sandwich, but it did contain lots of meat and the taste was great. You can add onions, sauces and horseradish, too. The horseradish, I soon found out, is killer.

After eating, I went back into the concourse took walk around a bit. Here, I saw the banners for the O’s six HOFers — Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken, Jr.:

I then climbed to the upper deck and saw M&T Bank Field, home of the Ravens …

… and the O’s player parking lot:

With another climb, I was up to the top of the upper deck in the right field corner, where I had this view:

Check out the scoreboard. Isn’t it awesome? It’s got a modern screen but the use of the iron beams gives it a historic feel:

I then went closer to the home plate area to take this panorama:

Eventually, I made my way to center field, where both teams’ bullpens are located. From up high, here’s the Cardinals bullpen:

And remember when I was in the flag court earlier? Here’s a bird’s-eye view of it:

Soon, I climbed back down to the main level. It’s a good thing I do all this walking on my baseball road trips to help offset all the ballpark food I eat. I sat along the first base line with this view:

And watched a masterful performance by Cards starter Chris Carpenter:

Carpenter went the distance, throwing 131 pitches to get the 5-1 win. The final pitch hit 95 mph on the gun, too. Here’s his pitch count:

After the game, while other people were stuck in traffic or waiting for public transit, I walked about one minute and was back in my hotel. When I got up to my room, I took a panorama of the ballpark:

A while later, some of the lighting was cut out and here’s what the scene was:

Here’s something that may interest only me, but is worth sharing. We go to games, eat, make a mess, then leave. We don’t really think about how much work goes into cleaning up the ballpark, but we expect it to be clean when we arrive the following day. That said, I watched Camden Yards on and off through the evening, and despite the lights being dimmed, there was plenty of work that went on. I watched the grounds crew watering the infield and the cleaning staff meticulously going row by row to pick up garbage, then pressure wash the entire stadium.

I finally went to bed around 3 a.m., and the crew was still at work! I don’t know how long they stayed, but that was a full five hour after the conclusion of the game. I’m impressed. We should all be thankful about how much hard work goes into the upkeep of such a great facility.

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