Camden Yards

Los Angeles Angels @ Baltimore Orioles.

2011 Regular Season at Camden Yards or just Orioles Park (Opened 1992). It was the first of a series of new MLB parks; ushering in a retro design that incorporated the ballpark feel of yesteryear with today’s technology. Many other new ballparks would follow the same concept in the coming years. Another element of retro-ballpark design is incorporating the existing bricks and mortar of the surrounding community. Take the warehouse beyond right field. It’s the most recognizable landmark in MLB and the longest brick building east of the Mississippi River.

In the cookie-cutter era of the 1960’s and 1970’s, stadiums were mostly built in a remote part of town; surrounded by a sea of parking lots. Camden Yards started the biggest construction boom since concrete and steel were first used to build Shibe Park & Forbes Field. Other items incorporated in the design are the original foul poles from Memorial Stadium; where the Baltimore Orioles played before.  

Baltimore is the birthplace of Babe Ruth. As you walk eastbound past the warehouse, you’re not going to want to miss the Birthplace of Babe Ruth Museum on Emory Street. It’s literally a flyball from Camden Yards. In fact, there are layers of history here. Continue eastbound for a couple blocks and you will find the Inner Harbor: the site of the War of 1812. At the time, Mary Pickersgill sewed the American Flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became the American national anthem. Mary Pickersgill’s home is a museum commonly known as the “Flag House” nearby and the Inner Harbor is now a trendy tourist attraction. When at Camden Yards, beware of the sudden shouts of “Oh!” during the national anthem. “Oh!, say can you see, for instance. It will catch you by surprise if you’re not expecting it.

This week marks the 25th Anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr’s record of consecutive games played, surpassing Lou Gehrig with 2,131 games on September 6, 1995. It’s ranked as one of MLBs most memorable moments. Every day during pre-game admission, fans relive that historic day in Camden Yards; on the Jumbotron. No doubt, seeing Cal Ripken Jr. walking around the field, reaching out to greeting fans never gets old. It was simple yet significant. Between 1982 and 1998, he showed up and left it all on the field. There is a school of thought in baseball that Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and the chase for Babe Ruth’s home run record saved baseball in 1998, after the dark episode of the 1994 Strike. MLB had an amazing revenue year in 1998. But for me, Cal Ripken’s work ethic brought me back to baseball after the strike. He is the iconic figure of Baltimore Orioles baseball. He and Babe Ruth are in a league of their own.

The traditional “Orioles” name is traced back to the American Association in the late nineteenth century. But this team is originally the St. Louis Browns of the American League who was purchased and moved in 1954. They mostly dominated in the 1960 and 1970 era with four World Series appearances and the 1966 and 1970 World Championship. They also won the 1983 World Series with Cal Ripken Jr.

The Los Angeles Angels were in the heat of a pennant race. Manager Mike Scioscia slotted his ace Jered Weaver on 3 days’ rest. Baltimore lost 11-2. They were virtually out of any post season talk. The next day, they started a run of winning 7 of the last 11 games. The Epic “Game 162” of the 2011 regular season left four teams still trying to clinch 2 post season spots. The rest of baseball was implicated as teams didn’t know where to travel or who to face in the playoffs. It would all be decided in a compacted 129 minutes and it ended here in tragic form for the Boston Red Sox. The Baltimore Orioles became one of the legendary late season spoilers.

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