Part VII: Camden Yards (Revisited)
Never before has a ballpark had an amazing effect on me. Only a couple times have I gone back to a new ballpark because it was that good. One of those was Fenway Park (after touring it in the Winter), another one of those was Wrigley Field. This is the only ballpark where I have gone back TWO different times in the same trip. A fan was kind enough to give me a free ticket to Friday’s game against the Mariners (even though I thought about getting a $7 student ticket for that game, anyway). This one was definitely worth it.
Ballpark 5 (again): Oriole Park at Camden Yards, elevation 36 feet
The game: Mariners @ Orioles on August 1, 2014
After spending a day writing, relaxing, and getting some cake from Charm City Cakes, I made my way back to Camden Yards to see a different visiting team. Also, it was ¾ sleeve t-shirt giveaway day… and this one celebrated their 60-year history. While I was tempted to wear that shirt, I was already wearing another free giveaway shirt from earlier in the week. The amount of free stuff I received from Camden Yards was plentiful, and also really appealing. The two shirts I got had a vintage style to them, and the tote bag was a nice addition to that collection. This doesn’t even include the first-timers certificate. To the Orioles organization, you are doing a terrific job. Keep doing what you’re doing, and you will win many fans over, and have several first-time guests come back for a repeat visit at some point. Or in my case, two repeat visits in the same week.
This time, I decided to enter via the West side gate on Eutaw Street so I can take a look at the retired number statues on that side of the park. Included here is a statue entitled “Babe’s Dream” depicting a young Babe Ruth as he was born only a few blocks away! However, that is another story, which I will get to later. I also took in batting practice and got to sit down at one of the orange chairs in the center field bleachers. This seat pictured marked the spot where Eddie Murray hit his 500th career home run nearly two decades ago.
Since I’ve done ticket prices in a separate post, I won’t go into detail about that. As for the food, I went back to Boog’s BBQ again because the food is that tasty, but Boog was nowhere to be found on this day. As it turned out, he had another appearance he was making that day. The food was still excellent, though.
Maybe it was the giveaway, or maybe it was the hot streak the Orioles were on. In any case, the fans came out in droves for this game, and they were as loud as I’ve heard all trip long. This was the loudest crowd I had been around since the near no-hitter in San Diego. Many of the fans I sat next to were undoubtedly pumped for the game, and were talking about a deep playoff run. The consensus was that the Baltimore Orioles are a serious dark horse contender for the AL pennant, and I would have to agree with them. Their starting rotation is much better than I thought, their bullpen just got more solidified, and if they stay healthy, their batting order could pack some serious punch. Nearly 40,000 loud fans came out to watch what ended up being a quick game.
The game: Throughout the first few innings, there was a threat of rain in the forecast. However, those dark clouds were gone by the fourth inning, and the game went on as usual. Austin Jackson made his Mariners debut after the blockbuster three-team trade that also sent David Price to the Detroit Tigers (more on him in an upcoming post). Jackson wasn’t so stellar in his M’s debut only going 0-for-3. Robinson Cano and Kendrys Morales provided the offense for Seattle as they managed only one run in the 4th inning.
On the Orioles side, Manny Machado carried the team on his back for this game as he recorded three hits, including an RBI, and scoring the winning run. Wei-Yin Chen pitched a gem by going 7 and 1/3 strong innings on 104 pitches, and allowing only the one run. Andrew Miller then came in for his Orioles debut, and got a rousing ovation as he got out of the 8th inning with the lead still intact. Miller came to Baltimore via a trade from the Boston Red Sox at the deadline. This trade helps solidify the Baltimore bullpen, and also adds someone with postseason experience to the roster (Miller won a World Series in 2013 at Boston). Good on the fans to recognize his debut and come through in an important hold situation.
These fans are now seriously thinking about the postseason and who they would want to face in the first round. By an overwhelming margin, these fans want to see the Angels again because they know they can beat Anaheim… er… Los Angeles of Anaheim. Given that Baltimore won series both at Camden Yards and at Angel Stadium, I might have to agree with those fans. In the 9th inning, Zach Britton pitched a perfect inning to notch his 22nd save and give the Orioles a 2-1 win. Again, the fans were as loud as ever, and capped off a great week at Camden Yards.
There is a reason I came back here aside from the free ticket. The fans have been electric all week long, and it was thrilling to be around a playoff-chase atmosphere as the Orioles look to win their first division title in seventeen years! Yes, it has been that long for them. Oh, I have to give a special shout out to the ushers on the third base side (specifically lower boxes 62 and 64) for being so kind and knowledgeable about the team and the park. As I’ve said before, this is one of the best places to watch a game. The food is top notch, the staff are excellent, and the ticket prices are quite good if you buy them in advance, and also if you look out for those special deals. I will miss this park, but it’s time to move on to greener pastures! I urge everyone to visit Camden Yards at least once and check out this jewel of a ballpark. Until next time, I will catch you guys on the flip side!