June 26th marked the first MLB game of the season for me. I think this is my longest baseball drought to date, but better late than never! We’ve been hard at work perfecting our setup and tear down of the “We Are Baseball” experience in Ashburn, Virginia for our opening in Davenport next week. Our long hours paid off, as we had the final Sunday in town off. A small group of us jumped at the opportunity catch the series finale between the Orioles and Rays at Camden Yards.
The ride up to Baltimore was only an hour, but we hit some traffic along the way that had us worried we wouldn’t make it in time for first pitch. On the bright side, it gave us some time to talk baseball. Let me go ahead and introduce this group of coworkers and their allegiances- Blake (Cardinals), Ted (Phillies), Gary (Royals), and Crystal (Red Sox). You can make up personalities for each of them according to what team they like because it’s definitely accurate. Despite being a silly Bosux fan, Crystal is one of my favorite people on the tour and when her Boston accent slips out (park, hair, Tom Brady), it’s a true delight. It’s odd I always meet awesome sports fans from Massachusetts which makes me wonder where all the Massholes are hiding…

To avoid paying for parking we were planning on doing free street parking in Baltimore’s Little Italy, as it was Sunday. But, since it was so close to game time we decided to suck it up and park in the Ravens lot down the street. Traffic is always a cluster a half hour to game time and we again were stuck as we followed the line to park. Parking was only $10, which wasn’t bad for a 15-minute walk. As we approached the ticket office, a gentleman stopped us and asked if we wanted free tickets as he had extras from his group. We offered him money or a beer and he refused both offers and we thanked him no fewer than 20 times before entering the ballpark. Pretty awesome timing right?

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Despite all of our worries that we would be late, we were early and grabbed Mark Trumbo giveaway shirts and headed over to the right field deck for the anthem. It was hard to not get distracted by the balls lining Eutaw St., but we told ourselves we would have time to check them out once the game was underway. The anthem was great and we stood along the railing to watch the first inning. The last place Rays did nothing and the Orioles rolled during their first at-bats. Chris Davis had a grand slam which continued my streak of seeing a home run in every game I attend. Even though I don’t like the Orioles at all, I decided to cheer for them because 1.) I was at their house and 2.) it’s probably good to keep the Rays down in last so the Yankees can be in front of someone. Fan-tastic logic.

After watching a few innings from the standing room in the right field deck, we decided to get food and check out our seats in the center field bleachers. Before making a quick pit stop at the concession stands we walked around Eutaw St. looking at all the bronze balls. It’s nice to see Ken Griffey Jr. is still the only one to hit the building… maybe they’ll put that on his Hall of Fame plaque. I opted for a crab dip hot dog while my friends went with Boog’s BBQ. Camden Yards is known for having local staples available and we all highly recommend them. We ate in our seats and watched a couple innings before opting to check out the rest of the stadium. Most of my coworkers hadn’t visited this ballpark and were curious to walk around. I’m a restless stadium-goer, so their desire to explore suited me!

The left field outfield had a large plaza with statues of Orioles legends that were pretty cool. Of course, Cal was immortalized, but I was more excited to see Brooks Robinson as he’s one of the three HoFers that do greeting videos in the Hall of Fame Tour exhibit I’m working in. Brooks and I are about to be the best of friends, as I will hear his video on repeat the remainder of the summer. No complaints, he has some good baseball tidbits to share- including playing in Cuba. The plaza also overlooks the visitor bullpen and we stood over it hoping to see a pitcher start warming up. Alas, the Rays were hanging their starter Drew Smyly out to dry and there wasn’t any bullpen action for either side (bullpens are stacked on each other). This paired with the sun beating down on us prompted our group to head up in the stands for some shade.We took the ramps from behind home plate up to the 300 level concourse and found a row of empty seats to claim. It was over 90 degrees and humid out in the sun, but the shade made the hot weather a 100x more tolerable. There were some super Orioles fans behind us that sang and made up chants for every. single. player. Get it Orioles fans. Get it. Following the seventh inning stretch, we walked back down to the main concourse and found some empty seats in the lower level. We occupied them for the final two innings and had a great view of the final out and completion of the Baltimore sweep. On our way out of the park, we stopped by the Babe Ruth statue and looked at the retired numbers.

Working on this tour has expanded my baseball history knowledge significantly and I was pleased to see I recognized names/numbers and could even put a few facts behind them as well. I may a bit biased about my Yankees, but there are a slew of great players that have made baseball what is it today. Learning about their contributions to the game and then being able to share them on a daily basis with fans around the country- I consider myself the luckiest gal on the face of the earth. 😉

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