Your own yard, front or back? The one you mow? No, Baltimore’s Camden Yards in the center of the city, Home of the Orioles, and an iconic Baseball stadium that inspired the renewal of sports in the inner cities of America.
Old Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street North, had gradually fallen into decline and was demolished in 2001. But by then, in 1991 a wonderful new Stadium, Camden Yards, had been born, one with outstanding views and some of the most economical seats in the Majors.
On April 6, 1992, “The Yard” opened with a design influenced by the Baseball Parks of the early 1900s. It took 33 months to complete the $110 million steel stadium, with a sunroof over the upper deck and brick arcade. This feature matches those stadiums of the early 1900s, like Ebbets, Brooklyn; Fenway, Boston; Crosby, Cincinnati; Wrigley, Chicago; and the Polo Grounds, NY. The playing field is actually 16 feet below street level, with drainage systems that remove rain water quickly. The Kentucky bluegrass playing field gives The Yard a vibrant green color, just like the natural grass in the early stadiums. Outfield fences are interesting: only 318 feet in Right field; 400 feet in Center; and 333 feet in Left. The height of the fences is only 7 feet, except in Right field. Foul poles with flags used at old Memorial stadium, are employed along the Left and Right field lines.
The Yard features comfortable seats proximate to the playing field, where players can hear their fans. And the scope of the field, with its close home run fences, particularly Right field, makes for exciting games.
With a current seating capacity of 48,876, Camden Yards is outside the neighboring grounds of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the world’s first commercial railroad established in 1828. Behind the 21 foot Right field walls is the longest locomotive warehouse in the world, almost 1100 feet, and only 51 feet wide.
Out of town fans come often to this distinctive Stadium at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and famed Eutaw Street. All around the arena, these fans discover comforting refreshment areas, pubs, bars, as well as the statues of great players for the home team. One of Brooks Robinson is on Eutaw Street, with the Gold Glove for his many defensive talents. Another is at the entrance of native Baltimorean Babe Ruth who played for the minor league team of the Orioles in early 1900s
Eutaw Street is the festive area behind the old warehouses of the B&O Railroad and the ballpark. Many brass baseballs are embedded in the sidewalks, where home runs to Right field cleared the Stadium and landed on Eutaw. Orioles star Boog Powell has his famous BBQ restaurant behind Center field, and there are plaques representing Hall of Fame Orioles on the Stadium walls – over three dozen.
A bit more background on the Orioles team itself: From the 1850s onward, there were many Minor and Major League teams in Baltimore and elsewhere. One in Baltimore, named the Baltimore Orioles, moved to New York City and became the Highlanders and eventually the NY Yankees. Originally the Orioles began as a Minor League team in 1894, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Known as the Milwaukee Brewers (not today’s Brewers), the team was one of the 8 charter teams of the American League in 1901. The old Memorial Stadium was originally Baltimore or Municipal and rebuilt in 1954 for baseball and football.
The current Baltimore Orioles came from the Saint Louis Browns, when the team relocated to the City at the insistence of Mayor D’Alesandro, and others, in 1953. The Oriole, a black and orange bird, was chosen as the Mascot. The colors of this bird were the colors of the first British Lord of Baltimore, Cecil Calvert. And now the Team makes its elegant home in the iconic Camden Yards, in the center of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, where kids 4-14 still run the bases after every Sunday Game and meet the players. Wow, what history!
Photos by Paul-Allan Louis