At 20 years old, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is still the benchmark for all baseball stadiums. If you’ve ever been there, you know why. If not, well, you might want to get over there. Seriously…go. Right now!
Since its opening, 21 other new stadiums have been built—many of them designed by HOK, the architecture firm that did such a sensational job on Camden Yards, but none is quite like the Orioles’ home.
Even though the stadium is still in great shape, there have been a few changes and updates.
First, there will be large bronze sculptures erected in the bullpen picnic area. Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken, Jr. all have sculptures, and deservedly so. Each sculpture will be dedicated at different Orioles home games: Frank Robinson on April 28, Brooks Robinson on May 12, Weaver on June 30, Palmer on July 14, Murray on August 11, and Ripken on September 6. All sculptures are being created by Maryland sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez.
The next addition, which was a phenomenal idea, is the Roof Deck. Located in center field above the green wall, the Roof Deck features drink rails, a bar and deck seating, giving fans a great perspective of the game behind Adam Jones. Any fan with a ticket will be able to enjoy this deck to watch all or a portion of the game, space permitting of course.
The next change is the flag court. Vertically challenged fans can now see over the wall in the flag court! The out-of-town scoreboard has been lowered four feet, helping to improve views of the game from the court and Eutaw Street. Not a bad idea—if you are grabbing some barbecue from Boog’s, now you can hang out there and watch the game.
The next addition is Art of the Game, which is located at the south end of Eutaw Street near Gate A. Art of the Game is a sports art gallery which is open on game days. Inside, you will find paintings, autographed memorabilia, and limited edition prints of sports stars.
Camden Yards was designed by the HOK architectural firm, and they could not have done a better job. HOK, now called Populous, has helped design other great stadiums such as Nationals Park in Washington, DC, Target Field in Minnesota, PETCO Park in San Diego, the new Yankee Stadium in New York, and most recently, Marlins Park in Miami. Construction at Camden Yards began in 1989 and the first game was played on April 6, 1992.
In their first game at the ‘new’ Camden Yards, the O’s faced off against the Cleveland Indians. On the mound for Baltimore was Rick Sutcliffe, who pitched a gem during the O’s housewarming party. Baltimore went on to win 2-0 as Sutcliffe came out ahead in a great pitcher’s duel against Cleveland’s Charles Nagy.
Fast forward 20 years to 2012, and Baltimore now is celebrating its 20th anniversary at Camden Yards.
To help kick off the 20th anniversary celebration, Baltimore brought back Sutcliffe to throw out the first pitch on opening day to his then battery mate and Orioles Hall of Famer Chris Hoiles.
If you haven’t gotten out to Camden Yards, you might want to hurry!
by Andy Mindzak