My Travels – MLB Stadiums: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles (May 29, 2013)

Fort McHenryThe next morning we packed up and made the quick drive to Baltimore. We stopped by the Baltimore Aquarium for a visit and walked along the harbor. The delicacy of Baltimore is crab cakes, especially with being right on the Chesapeake Bay. We passed on the crab though and headed out to visit Fort McHenry. If you’re a history buff like me, then you’ll appreciate the place where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s worth the small entrance fee into the fort.

Before the Orioles game, we walked through The Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards. It’s next door to Oriole Park and has one of the most impressive historic sports collections I’ve ever seen. It covers the history of all Maryland sports and is worth arriving early at the ballpark. Our entry fee was $8 each.

Babe Ruth Birthplace and MuseumWe also made the short walk to Babe Ruth’s birthplace and museum. There is a path of baseball logos inlaid in the sidewalks leading from the ballpark to his museum. As a Yankees fan, it was a special treat to see the house where the Great Bambino was raised. The entry fee was $6 each, but I would have paid double for the experience.

The climax for our evening was Oriole Park. We heard from multiple sources that Oriole Park was an impressive site and would rank high in our final MLB Stadium rankings (which will be out next year once we finish with #30). I can safely say it’s a very impressive ballpark. Oriole Park is the first MLB stadium built in what’s now referred to as the retro classic style with brick exterior, black wrought-iron gateways, and gradient archways. It’s a truly beautiful park and set the template for many of the newer parks in MLB, namely Busch Stadium (St. Louis), Coors Field (Colorado), and PNC Park (Pittsburgh).

The Orioles got revenge on the Nationals from the night before and we enjoyed a beautiful night in Baltimore. If you’re planning a visit to Oriole Park, here’s some good info to keep in mind…

  • Parking was $10 and a little bit of a walk, but not too bad. Park a good 3-4 blocks away from the stadium. Being located right on the bay is good for scenery, but it makes real estate a premium commodity.
  • For the national anthem, Oriole fans (really, any Baltimore team fans) loudly shout “OH!” in the middle of the anthem at the beginning of the phrase, “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…” If you time it right, it can start the experience off right. (We tried it in Boston when the Orioles were in town. Yep, it happened there, too.)
  • I don’t know if it was because the Nationals (read: rivals) were in town or not, but Oriole fans get an A+ for enthusiasm and crowd vibe.
  • The food selection was decent. It had some BBQ, sandwiches, Jon and Kara - Oriole Park at Camden Yardstypical ballpark food. The Orioles do a great job of incorporating their brand into the food service.
  • If you sign up for the Designated Driver booth sponsored by Budweiser, your name is put in a drawing to win a swag bag of Orioles merchandise. I won and got a bag of great Orioles memorabilia…that’s been separated into our shrine downstairs or onto Craigslist.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a wonderful experience. We checked it off our list and headed towards Philadelphia. Twenty-two stadiums down, only eight more to go!

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