When looking across baseball, Camden Yards has separated itself as the most important ballpark in baseball. While great stadiums surround the sport, the most impactful remains Oriole Park in Baltimore.
Camden Yards: The Building
From the inception of the franchise through the 1991 season, the Orioles called Memorial Park home. While the stadium was a fine building, it lacked many of the amenities of newer stadiums. Meanwhile, having been burned by the NFL’s Colts, the city of Baltimore didn’t want a fight over a stadium to cause the Orioles to leave. So, in 1989, the Orioles broke ground on a new stadium.
Initially, designs for the stadium resembled those of the new Comiskey Park located on the South Side of Chicago. However, local architectural groups in Baltimore pushed for a more “retro” look. As a result, Camden Yards would become the first new stadium with an older design. The stadium also paid tribute to the most important baseball players from Baltimore, by including statues of Oriole legends including Cal Ripken Jr. and Frank Robinson as well as Baltimore native Babe Ruth to greet fans as they enter the complex.
In the team’s first year in the stadium, the Orioles increased their attendance by more than 40%!
Camden Yards: The Warehouse
The most distinctive part of the ballpark is the Baltimore and Ohio Warehouse that sits just beyond right field. The building was originally built in 1899 by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company and at one point would hold 1,000 carloads of freight at a time. Today, the building serves as team offices and a private club for the Orioles players.
Perhaps the most memorable moment for the Warehouse came during the 1993 Home Run Derby when Ken Griffey Jr. bounced a ball of the side of the building.
Camden Yards: Eutaw Street
The other distinctive part of the stadium is the famed Eutaw Street. When entering the stadium, fans walk down Eutaw Street where they are greeted by stands and vendors with pathways to their seats. Meanwhile, the floor has over 100 marks of where home runs have landed with the date and players’ names.
Fans are often greeted by former Oriole great, Boog Powell, who opened his own BBQ stand in the stadium. Powell frequently sits by his stand and interacts with fans entering the stadium.
Camden Yards: Around Baseball
Since being built in 1992, stadiums around baseball have used Oriole Park as a template for their redesigns. Two seasons after Camden Yards opened, Cleveland used the same architecture group to build Jacobs Field.
Meanwhile, former Orioles president Larry Lucchiano used Camden Yards as a guide when building Petco Park in San Diego and renovating Fenway Park with the Red Sox. At the time of the renovation, he said “We used Camden Yards as a model for Boston. The old-fashioned stuff came from Fenway to Baltimore, and the modern amenities and the newness came from Baltimore to Boston.”
Executives from across baseball still come to Baltimore to view Oriole Park when designing new stadiums for their franchises. Camden Yards has perfectly captured the retro feel that is craved by baseball fans while still offering a modern feel for younger fans. Despite nearing 30 years of age, the stadium has stood the test of time and remains a top place to watch a baseball game.
As the Orioles turn to the 2021 season, fans will hopefully be able to come back to the best stadium in the sport.
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