Thursday morning I boarded my third and final flight in four days and took off to Baltimore. My sister Alex was at the airport to pick me up and we drove to my friend Nick’s place in Laurel, Maryland. We changed and freshened up before heading into Baltimore for that night’s game. Once in the city, we found parking near Baltimore’s Little Italy. Public parking in Baltimore is fairly expensive, so if you can, try to utilize the public transportation as much as possible. We walked about 20 minutes to the ballpark passing through the harbor and enjoying this side of the city. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice Baltimore was, in my head I had imagined something more like Detroit (probably blinded by my dislike for the Ravens). The area by the water is beautiful and brimming with restaurants, museums, and of course boats!
We continued walking past Camden Yards to visit Babe Ruth’s birthplace, now a museum. It’s located at 216 Emory St., a short walk from the park. Admission to the museum is $6, but none of us were all that interested in touring the home, so just peered in the entrance. His home and a couple of houses are preserved on the street giving it a very quaint feel. After we got our history fix, we made our way back to walk around the park and buy tickets to that night’s game against the Pirates.
If you haven’t heard by now, Camden Yards was the first retro park built 20 years ago and has since set off a slew of imitators. The main plaza by center field welcomes in fans with a statue of Babe Ruth and giant sculptures of retired numbers. The main ticket gate is located here and to the left is the Sports Legends Museum and an apparel store. Once we purchased our tickets we headed towards left field to check out the other gates and make a loop back to Eutaw Street. Camden Yards arched brick and concrete façade provide a simple yet aesthetically pleasing outside from all angles around the park. Green steel is used as an accent to this and this is very little glass, giving the park a very open feel. The home plate entrance is in the “back” of the park which faces the Ravens’ stadium. This side of the park wasn’t very populated since entering through Eutaw Street is a fan favorite (for good reason!).
We entered Eutaw Street from Gate A and immediately got caught up in looking at all the plaques along the ground commemorating where home runs have been hit. We raced to and from each one trying to find our favorite players and marveling at repeat offenders (Jason Giambi had three I believe). We settled on Paul O’Neill and Robinson Cano, though I know Nick Swisher had one last year (maybe it’s not up yet). After we had scoured the street, we took the time to actually look up and appreciate the area. Eutaw Street is lined with banners, pennants, the Orioles HOF, and decked out to the nines in Baltimore Orioles insignia. There are a couple of local options for food here including Boog’s BBQ and Gino’s Burgers and Chicken. Gino’s is a two story restaurant and bar that sits atop the batters eye with a great view of the field. This season they’re serving up burgers topped with crab cakes! I’ve heard the crab cakes are delicious, but couldn’t bring myself to eat one of these guys!
After a few turns around Eutaw Street, we entered the park for the Pirates batting practice. We watched a little from the center field standing room the overlooks the double stacked bullpens. The batters eye to the left was fairly simple, just a green wall and some grass, nothing fancy. Making our way to the home team’s dugout we walked through the main concourse which was very well lit by the large unobstructed arches in the architecture. There are large pictures of important moments and players in Orioles history along the outside wall. The bathroom alcoves are decorated with paintings of former Orioles mascots and we had some fun with them. Not sure why this cheer didn’t catch on! The Orioles Shirt Shop is perfect for fans looking for customized gear and you can hang out in the Free State Pub next door while you wait.
While looping around the main concourse, we noticed there was no standing room along the 100 level. In my opinion, this would be the only flaw in this park’s design. We hung out near the field for the remainder of batting practice enjoying a close-up view of the field and soaking in the park’s atmosphere. When this stadium was being built, the original plan was to tear down the B&O Warehouse that stands behind right field. Instead, they kept it, converting it to the front office and a private club. It’s hard to picture the stadium without, the building definitely adds character to the ballpark and the area behind it would surely be an eyesore. For those looking for something more picturesque, the left field perfectly frames Baltimore’s downtown skyline.
Prior to first pitch we walked up to the right field concourse (it’s loaded with children’s activities) and caught the anthem. Orioles fans yell “O” during the, “O say does that Star Spangled,” making it a special experience for new fans (hear it at 1:18 mark of this video). Nick told my sister and me that his friend had only heard the National Anthem live at Camden Yards and thought that was the norm. He was quite surprised when he went somewhere else and yelled it. That story made me giggle- had to pass it on! After the anthem, we headed up the escalator to the 300 level (200 level is closed off for club and suite seats) and walked around the concourse before heading to our seats. At this level are the $1 concession stands. Hot dogs, soda, and popcorn are all $1 each! I opted for my stadium staple, a soft pretzel and it was stale. It was a dollar, so what did I expect?
Our seats were on the third baseline and we had a great view of the game action. The game wasn’t sold out and I’m sure we could have moved closer to the plate if we wanted to without a problem. Nick, being a gracious host to the city bought us a can of Natty Boh, the “official” beer of Baltimore. We stayed in our seats enjoying the Orioles offensive show until the end of the 6th before meeting up with some friends from Kentucky in the left field standing room (ballparks are so small world!). They were in town for a boy’s weekend visiting both ballparks (Camden Yards and Nationals Park) and the local breweries. Combining baseball and breweries sounds like a fun time, maybe that’s what I’ll do next summer- who’s with me?
We stood over the bullpen for the 7th inning stretch before heading out to beat the crowds. We stopped across the street for a beer at Pickles Pub since we didn’t make it there before the game. The pub is a strip of bars across from Camden Yards and a popular pre and post-game destination for Orioles fans. We headed through the harbors looking for ice cream before heading home empty handed. The harbor is gorgeous at night, all the ships are lit up and the city reflects off the water.
For this trip, I spent $15 on a ticket, $22 on parking, and $25 on food and drink ($62 in all). Camden Yards a phenomenal park to catch a game in. There are a lot of wonderful imitators, but they can’t touch the original!