Tagged: Camden Yards

Top 10 Ballpark Food I’ve Eaten

As I mentioned yesterday on Twitter, I’ve been working on compiling a list of the top 10 food items I’ve eaten on my travels.

Well, the results are in, and I’ve got a number of tasty items that you must try if you ever have the chance. Before we begin, let’s go over the ground rules:

1. I’m only counting food I’ve eaten at parks I’ve visited. You won’t see any items on this list that I haven’t eaten or sold at parks I haven’t visited.
2. I’m looking at individual food items, rather than a ballpark’s overall selection.

Let’s begin!

10. Pulled pork nachos – Classic Park – Lake County Captains

You might think you’d need to reach for some Tums after getting through these ample nachos, but they’re not heavy in a bad way. The pulled pork was excellent and better than I’d expect to find at a ballpark. The one knock on these was the server forgot to give me cheese.

9. Apple crisp – Parkview Field – Fort Wayne TinCaps

Parkview Field has several apple-themed dishes on its menu, given that Fort Wayne in the place Johnny Appleseed is buried. The apple crisp was the best ballpark dessert I’ve ever eaten. (And the ‘Caps helmet it’s served in is a cool bonus.) Visit my website to read about all the apple treats and other food items at Parkview Field.

8. Clam chowder – Northeast Delta Dental Stadium – New Hampshire Fisher Cats

I ate Northeast Delta Dental Stadium’s clam chowder on a July evening last year, and even though it was a hot day, really enjoyed the soup. I can see it being the perfect ballpark food on a cold April or September night. The clam chowder isn’t the only seafood item on the menu here. Here’s the full list.

7. Philly cheesesteak – Cooley Law School Stadium – Lansing Lugnuts

I wasn’t a huge fan of the processed cheese goop on the Philly cheesesteak in Lansing, but the bun was fresh, the steak was perfect and the onions and peppers were savory.

6. Old Bay pretzel – Prince George’s Stadium – Bowie Baysox

Crab might as well be the official food of Maryland, and if you’re having crab, you need to season it with Old Bay. This cheese-filled jumbo pretzel was rolled in Old Bay. Dangerously perfect.

5. Boog’s BBQ turkey sandwich – Oriole Park at Camden Yards – Baltimore Orioles

I tried turkey and pork sammies at Boog’s BBQ in Baltimore, and the turkey one ranked higher in my books. It’s expensive, but you get an ample amount of meat and can also load up on onions, Old Bay, BBQ sauce and horseradish.

4. Shopsy’s Bill Cosby Triple Decker – Rogers Centre – Toronto Blue Jays

Shopsy’s makes darned good deli sandwiches and the Bill Cosby Triple Decker was outstanding. It was huge, filling and not as greasy as you might expect. The coleslaw and pickle were a nice addition, affirming that I’d eaten healthily by getting a meal with “vegetables.”

3. Quaker Steak & Lube chicken wings – Rogers Centre – Toronto Blue Jays

Quaker Stake & Lube wings are delicious, and surprisingly, the quality doesn’t drop off when served at a stadium. I’ve had several flavors of these wings at Rogers Centre, and they’re all winners in my book.

2. Buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese – Frontier Field – Rochester Red Wings

Mac and cheese? Check. Chicken and hot sauce? Check. Blue cheese dressing? Check. Simply the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had anywhere. If you’re in Rochester, don’t pass up a chance to try any of the gourmet mac and cheeses. On my website, TheBallparkGuide.com, I’ve got a complete rundown of Frontier Field’s delicious foods.

1. Bo Brooks crab cake sandwich – Ripken Stadium – Aberdeen IronBirds

Aberdeen’s menu offers many variations on crab and the crab cake sandwich was killer. On a fresh bun atop lettuce and tomato, and seasoned with plenty of Old Bay, this is the type of sandwich you could eat every inning. Definitely worth the drive if you’re remotely in the area. Visit my website for a complete guide to Ripken Stadium’s food selection.

I’m curious to hear about the amazing food other people have eaten, and where. I’ll be sure to check it out!

As always, follow me on Twitter to read the latest about my website, my blog and my travels.

Shirts I’ve Collected

Last week, I blogged about the six caps I’ve bought during my travels around Major League and Minor League Baseball.

This week, I want to continue the sports-centered wardrobe theme and talk about some of the shirts I’ve bought and received through stadium giveaways. As I’ve said, I don’t buy a hat at every park I visit. The same holds true for shirts and other memorabilia. Still, when the price is right and I like the look of something, I’ll add it to my collection.

Dating back to my first baseball road trips for TheBallparkGuide.com in 2010, here’s what I’ve picked up:

Cleveland Indians – Travis Hafner jersey shirt

This isn’t a traditional jersey shirt; you’ll see that it has Hafner’s nickname, Pronk, on the back. I’m a Hafner fan, and thought this shirt was unique.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats 1

When I visited New Hampshire’s (now called Northeast Delta Dental Stadium) in September 2010, the team was about to play what would be its final playoff game of the season. As such, most of the products in the team shop were on sale. I picked up this T-shirt for under $10.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2

I got this one for around $10, too. Not bad for a Nike product, and I like the look of it.

Great Lakes Loons

When I watched the Great Lakes Loons play in May 2011, I visited the team shop during a long rain delay. This shirt was priced way less than other comparable products, so I bought it. What I didn’t notice at the time is that the logo is significantly closer to the left sleeve. (Hence the price reduction.) Still, I like this shirt because it’s one baseball shirt that isn’t gaudy.

West Michigan Whitecaps

Speaking of gaudy (in a good way, of course), this bright red Whitecaps shirt featuring their logo is eye catching. Most of the shirts I’ve gotten are white, so this one stands out in my closet.

Fort Wayne TinCaps

Perhaps partly influenced by my amazing visit to beautiful Parkview Field, this TinCaps shirt is one of my favorites. I like its design and the fact it uses the MiLB logo in a prominent spot. Plus, who doesn’t like angry apples?

Lake County Captains

I wasn’t around to see Lake County win the first half of the Midwest League championship in 2010, but I liked this shirt enough to buy it in 2011.

Delmarva Shorebirds

I’m a big fan of this simple Shorebirds T-shirt by Nike. I like Delmarva’s logo and the simple design of this shirt.

Baltimore Orioles 1

When I was in B-More, I was lucky enough to attend a game with a T-shirt giveaway. The T-shirt this day was J.J. Hardy.

Baltimore Orioles 2

Last summer, Chevrolet heavily promoted the Volt at MLB stadiums, including Camden Yards. If you signed up to receive Chevrolet marketing material, you got a free T-shirt. Count me in! And, if you wanted to sign up multiple times, you’d get multiple shirts ….

Washington Nationals 1

A couple days after I was in Baltimore, I was in the nation’s capital over the July 4 long weekend. The Nats gave away American flag-themed T-shirts at the gate.

Washington Nationals 2

Just like in Baltimore, Chevrolet had a kiosk promoting the Volt. I managed to get, uh, a few of these shirts, too.

Binghamton Mets

On July 4, I stopped in Binghamton to see the B-Mets battle the Portland Sea Dogs before an impressive fireworks show at NYSEG Stadium. During the game, I picked up what’s become one of my favorite items — a B-Mets pullover. These are the shirts the players wear during BP, in the dugout and while warming up. It’s awesome.

But what about game-used items? You’ll just have to check back tomorrow for some goodies that fall under that category.

Ball of the Day – 1 of 4

Today, and for the next three days, I’m going to post a photo of a different autographed ball I got on my last road trip for The Ballpark Guide. Make sure to follow me on Twitter or bookmark this blog to see my next post.

My first post is an autographed ball of Baltimore Orioles great, and 1970 American League MVP, Boog Powell:

Powell is a two-time World Series winner, four-time All-Star and hit 339 home runs in a career that spanned from 1961 to 1977. Powell currently owns Boog’s BBQ at Camden Yards, and frequently hangs out at the popular eatery and meets fans. I got to meet him and get a photo with him during my second game in Baltimore on June 30.

Which autographed ball will I feature tomorrow? Check back and find out!

Finally, I’ll have news on my next road trip very soon.

Baltimore Orioles – June 30

Because I’ve already blogged about Camden Yards, I’m not going to go overboard with this post. That said, my second Baltimore Orioles game in as many days was great. I really like this ballpark. It’s a ballpark, not a stadium, so it’s got a great feel to it. While it’s huge, it still has a “ballpark-y” feel, which is the type of place I enjoy.

I bought another $10 ticket before the game (Actually, I bought this one at the time of my 11 a.m. tour earlier in the day so that I wouldn’t have to wait in line at the ticket office prior to the gates opening):

Today was J.J. Hardy T-shirt giveaway day, so the lines outside the stadium were longer than usual. That said, I was still fairly close to the start of the line, so I had no problem getting a T-shirt:

I was glad to get into the ballpark today to find some shade. I’d been walking around the inner harbor for the last several hours, and it was extremely hot. Instead of spending time in the outfield during BP, I decided to go get a cold drink and hang out in the shade. On my way to one of the lounges off Eutaw Street, I saw an autograph booth. The three guys signing in about 30 minutes were Ron Hansen, Tippy Martinez and Jimmy Williams:

As much as I love autographs, I wasn’t too familiar with these guys, so I decided to forgo the line. After cooling off with a drink (and eating two cups of ice), I went down to the first base side and watched BP from up in the shade:

I then made a long, slow lap of the stadium and made it all the way back to Boog’s BBQ on Eutaw Street. A day earlier, I had a great BBQ sandwich for dinner, so I was going to repeat the process again. But as soon as I got into line, I saw Boog Powell was signing autographs for fans! He often does, from what I’ve read, so I asked him to sign a ball and I got a photo with him:

(I’ll photograph and blog about the ball at a later date. His autograph is a cool addition to a number of neat souvenirs I’ve picked up during my travels for The Ballpark Guide.)

This time, I got the pork sandwich, and while I preferred yesterday’s turkey, it was still good:

I ate my sandwich up in the stands behind right field, which allowed me to take a photo of the scene down Eutaw Street. I think the following picture gives you a good idea of the area:

After eating, I moved over to the upper deck down the third base line, where I could keep an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard to see how the Jays were doing. Losing to the Pirates? What’s the world coming to?

I spent the game’s late innings in center field, with this view …

… then went behind home plate and got this action photo of Alfredo Simon dealing to David Freese:

Despite a comeback attempt by the O’s, they lost again and I went back to my hotel to enjoy the view once again. Remember how I said the cleaning staff worked until at least 3 a.m. after the previous night’s game? Well, they were (obviously) at it again, and this time I got a photo:

The following morning, I’d head for the D.C. area, but not without a bit of sadness. My two days in Baltimore were even better and I’d expected — a great ballpark, amazing sights and lots to see and do. I’ll definitely be back.

Camden Yards Tour – June 30

If you read my previous post, you might remember that when I went to bed at 3 a.m. after my first Orioles game, the park was still full of people cleaning it. I woke up at 7:15 a.m. on June 30, looked out the window and saw the grounds crew hard at work. Talk about dedication! Now, it was the cleaning staff, not the grounds crew, that was working past 3 a.m., but the grounds crew was working on the field after the previous night’s game. Now, about eight hours later, they were back at work.

I decided to begin the last day of June with a Camden Yards guided tour. These tours cost $9 for adults, are 90 minutes in length (give or take) and run on the hour. I went down for the 11 a.m. tour, bought my ticket …

… and went through the Eutaw Street gates:

While we were waiting to get started, I noticed the home run markers all over Eutaw Street. Somehow, I’d missed them a day earlier. There are more than 50 total markers set into the concrete. The longest, of course, was the 1993 All-Star Game blast by Ken Griffey, Jr., that hit the warehouse on the fly:

As you can see below, these markers are spread out around Eutaw Street:

And you can find lots of names you recognize. The longest game home run in this area belongs to former Expo Henry Rodriguez, who blasted a 443-footer in 1997:

Soon, our tour began. Our guide, Floyd, was great. He was thoroughly knowledgeable, funny and interesting. He told us a lot about the planning and construction of the ballpark and even gave us facts about the surrounding area.

Below is the Bromo-Seltzer Tower. It’s a huge tower that has the largest clock face in the world — bigger than Big Ben, even. It’s close to Eutaw Street:

Our tour took us through the concourse, which was deserted except for the occasional Camden Yards staff:

Guess how many people work at the ballpark on game days? If you said 900 to 1,000, you’d be right.

Then, we went up the club level, where we went in the Brooks Robinson Suite:

Here are the tables and chairs just outside the suite:

We walked through the amazing suite level (this is Floyd, below) …

… and saw the opulence that is the suites. Behind these suites, there are a ton of lounges, such as the 2131 Lounge:

There are neat displays, including blown-up covers of every time an Oriole has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated:

Bars:

And these guys — two of the O’s three World Series trophies. These aren’t replicas, either. They’re the real deal:

There are also Gold Glove, MVP and Cy Young awards:

Here’s the rich-person entrance to Camden Yards:

By the way, these suites run $90,000 to $400,000 a year. It makes me cringe to think about that the suites at Yankee Stadium cost.

Next, we went down a hallway into the pressbox area. One neat thing Floyd pointed out was all the cable running to and from the pressbox:

We looked in the control room, which is where everything relating to the game happens. The scoreboards, ribbon boards, music, in-game announcements and anything else you can think of is run from here:

(Sorry — I know the photos aren’t great. The tour was crowded and lots of time, things were backlit.)

Here’s the actual pressbox:

When we began the tour, there was a youth baseball clinic taking place on the field. As a result, we wouldn’t be able to go down to field level. The O’s website says the tour includes a visit to the dugout, which is what I wanted to see the most. After we walked down from the press box, I was lamenting that we couldn’t get to the field. But Nicole Sherry, the ballpark’s head groundskeeper, called to Floyd and said we could go down. We went out onto the field. This is me. On the field:

We didn’t go in the dugout, but I took an up-close shot of it with me in front:

Though Floyd was great, he didn’t seem too eager to go down to the field, so the 25-person group was pretty thankful for Nicole. She’s one of just two female head groundskeepers in all of baseball. (The other is in Detroit at Comerica Park.) What an amazing, yet pressure-filled, job. And obviously, as I’ve noticed, her group is dedicated and skilled. Nicole posed for shots with a bunch of people from our group, so I got one, too:

We left the field via the umpires tunnel, which is directly behind home plate. We walked up the tunnel to another tunnel, which runs around under the stands. From here, you can access both clubhouses and, of course, the umpires room. Floyd showed us the peep hole in the umpires room door; apparently, it’s the only peep hole in the entire ballpark!

The tour cut through another fancy club level area, featuring a wooden Orioles sign:

And then, we were back out onto Eutaw Street where we looked at the right field foul pole, which is the original pole from Memorial Stadium, built back in 1954:

What an amazing tour! I’ve said a lot here, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the tour if you’re visiting Baltimore. The guide provides so much neat information that you’ll learn a ton, regardless of how much baseball knowledge you have.

I spent the rest of the day on a giant walk around the harbor (blisters on my feet will attest to that) before heading back to Camden Yards around 5 p.m. for my second O’s game.

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.