Camden Yards With Kids: 4 Things To Know

Baltimore Orioles


Camden Yards With Kids: 4 Things To Know

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re visiting Camden Yards with kids, you have some advantages – cheap tickets, for one, with the O’s struggling at the gate even in winning times. And plenty of inexpensive parking and outside food vendors.

Here are four things parents should know when bringing the kids to Oriole Park…

 

camden yards with kids free tickets

Free baseball tickets? Rock on Orioles!

Camden Yards With Kids, Tip #1) Bring The Kids For Free! The Orioles announced an “unprecedented initiative” in 2018…free kids tickets! Yes, you read that right…for each upper level ticket you buy as an adult, you can order two more tickets for kids nine and under absolutely free of charge. This includes every game except Opening Day…including “Kids Opening Day”.

This is such a cool thing for the Orioles to do that bloggers of other teams have already strongly suggested that other teams do it too…if only one team would lead the way and reduce concessions prices.

 

camden yards with kids junior orioles

It costs a bit more and it’s only six games now. But the team wins a bit more.

Camden Yards With Kids, Tip #2) Join The Club. The Junior Orioles Dugout Club is great for the kids, especially if you can go to multiple games. For a small fee, the kid gets six free game tickets, cool gear, access to kids’ newsletters and front of the line access on run the bases days.

Speaking of which…

 

camden yards with kids thank you

What can I say, except “You’re welcome.”

Camden Yards With Kids, Tip #3) Go on Sunday. On Sundays the Orioles offer cool activities for the kids, like face painting and autographs. And kids love to run the bases after the game…but get in line early if you can, because it’s a very popular promotion. There are a LOT of kids in the play area on Sundays, but it helps them burn up energy.

And if the kids are into play areas at the ballpark…and they always are…

 

camden Yards with kids play area

O’s employees even come out on cold days.

Camden Yards With Kids, Tip #4) Sit In The Right Field Corner. The play area at Camden Yards with the moon bounce, pitching and batting cages and now a “Bird House”, a treehouse-shaped gym, keeps them occupied for a while. It’s at the south end of Eutaw Street, near Gate H. The Bird House is in the shade, while the moon bounce and other activities are in the sun, so you can imagine which is more popular.

One more thing…don’t forget their “first game” certificate, which you can pick up at Guest Services on Eutaw Street. It’s near Boog’s BBQ.

Hopefully those are some helpful tips for enjoying a game at Camden Yards with the family. If you enjoyed it,  subscribe to my Camden Yards newsletter to learn more…

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

Can You Bring Food Into Camden Yards?

Posted by Kurt Smith

I am frequently asked, can you bring food into Camden Yards?

The short answer is yes, you can…the Orioles allow a 16*16*8 soft-sided bag or cooler, so long as it doesn’t contain alcohol or potential projectiles.

But the best part of this money-saving tip is the possibilities you have with the numerous outside vendors…so here are three tips on where you can find cheap outside grub to bring into the Yard.

 

bring food into camden yards crab cake sandwich

Inside the ballpark, it costs more without the roll.

1) Pickles Pub/Slider’s/The Bullpen. I’m not sure which of these three corner pubs sets up all of the tents and outdoor grills and full bars, but I expect it’s all of them. The three establishments are across the street from the ballpark on Washington Street, and the entire area gets packed with pre- and post-game partiers.

You can get a hefty dog, sausage, burger, or crab cake sandwich here for much less than you’d pay inside the ballpark, of course, and there are tables with people selling peanuts, pistachios and bottled water too.

Best part? Have a cheap Natty Boh while you’re filling your goody bag…since you can’t get cheap beer OR Natty Boh inside the ballpark.

 

bring food into camden yards conway vendors

With so many combinations, there’s sure to be one for you!

2) Vendors On Howard And Conway Streets. There are a plethora of vendors with grills selling dogs, sausages and chicken sandwiches, and they’ll offer you a nice deal if you’re willing to haggle and offer to buy more at a discount.

As with the vendors near Pickles Pub, on Conway Street, you can also buy much cheaper gear and souvenirs. This is ideal for people arriving by Light Rail…the vendors are right there across the street.

 

bring food into camden yards peanut church

Photo courtesy of the Old Otterbein United Methodist Church. They said I could use it.

3) The Peanut Church. The Old Otterbein United Methodist Church is nicknamed the “Peanut Church”…they’ve been selling fresh bags of roasted peanuts cheaply since Camden Yards opened in 1992, and they’ve used the profits to maintain the church with a new roof and painting and such. If you’re a person of faith you’ll probably think it’s a cool thing. It’s on Conway Street, and if you’re coming from the Inner Harbor you can’t miss it.

Finally, there’s a Jimmy John’s and a Chipotle just steps away, if you want bring food into Camden Yards from someone familiar. But that’s kinda boring.

You can bring food into Camden Yards and save quite a few bucks; but you do have great food options inside the park too, like several variations of crab meat items.

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

Best Way To Get To Camden Yards: Light Rail

Posted by Kurt Smith

When it comes to the best way to get to Camden Yards, you have enough options. Driving and parking generally isn’t too bad, at least by downtown ballpark standards, and if you book ahead of time. (That’s an affiliate link you’ve just read, so if you decide to try it, thanks for your support!)

But for most Orioles games, I prefer to use the MTA Light Rail, for several reasons:

 

best way to get to camden yards light rail tickets

Don’t be intimidated. It’s very nice.

1) MTA Light Rail is cheap. It’s less than four bucks as of this writing round trip to use the streetcar, and parking at most stations outside of the city is free.

You won’t likely find decent parking at the ballpark that cheap…and on top of that, driving to the ballpark in that notorious Baltimore congestion can use up a lot of gas.

 

best way to get to camden yards light rail stop

With a helpful photo of the ballpark!

2) MTA Light Rail is convenient. Park for free, hop on the streetcar, and get dropped off right there just a few steps from the gate. You can even use nearby stops to get on or off; the Convention Center and Hamburg stations are still closer than most ballpark parking.

The Light Rail runs frequently enough that you won’t have to wait long before or after the game; for big attendance games you might have a to wait a car or two. Try using the nearby stations in the opposite direction of where you’re headed…your chances of having a seat are better that way.

 

best way to get to Camden Yards traffic

Sure…how slow could an Interstate highway be?

3) MTA Light Rail avoids traffic. Maybe I should have ranked this higher. If you’re driving in from I-83, traffic north of the ballpark in the city is brutal, especially in the evening when the Inner Harbor gets hopping. The streetcar may take some time trudging through the red lights, but at least you know it will get there. Sometimes when you’re sitting in that downtown Charm City gridlock, you’re not sure.

For the best way to get to Camden Yards, you can’t beat the convenience and price of the Light Rail system. But there are lots of other ways, including by boat or bicycle, and you do have some cheap parking options if you do decide to drive your car.

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

4 Tips For Finding Cheap Orioles Tickets

Posted by Kurt Smith

So you’re looking for cheap Orioles tickets for your next visit to beautiful Camden Yards?

Of course you are…here are a few tips to get you started. Just so you know, this article has affiliate links through which Ballpark E-Guides earns a commission. Thanks for your support!

 

cheap orioles tickets box office

My bank isn’t even open on Sundays!

Cheap Orioles Tickets, Tip #1: Use The Box Office. Orioles games rarely sell out, especially during the week and when the team isn’t great on the field.

Red Sox, Yankees, and Nationals games draw bigger crowds of course, but in most cases you should be able to walk up to the box office even on game day and pick up whatever seats suit your taste. There are no ticket fees at the box office, so you save a considerable amount of cash.

You might have to stand in line a bit, but the wait isn’t usually long.

 

cheap orioles tickets kids club

It’s only six games now, but the food is a little better.

Cheap Orioles Tickets, Tip #2: Join The Club. If you’d like to take the kids, especially for more than one game, you should definitely have them join the Junior Orioles Dugout Club first.

For a small fee your little one gets tickets to a few games, and membership includes discounts on additional tickets. Well worth the fee, and the kids get lanyards and lunchboxes and stuff too…and front of the line privileges on run the bases days, which is no small thing given the length of that line.

 

cheap orioles tickets blood drive

And donate blood to fellow Baltimoreans.

Cheap Orioles Tickets, Tip #3: Give Blood Or Something. As of this writing, the Orioles on occasion will host a blood drive with the Red Cross. Donors usually receive two tickets and a T-shirt for their troubles.

You can find out when a blood drive will be happening by checking the Community section of the O’s website. You can look there to see if the O’s offer tickets for other philanthropy too.

Get complimentary game tickets and help your fellow human. Win-win.

 

cheap orioles tickets seatgeek

Click the image to find deals on Orioles tickets. Truly.

Cheap Orioles Tickets, Tip #4: Try SeatGeek. SeatGeek is a favorite third party seller of mine, and I’m not just saying that because they’re an affiliate. I often find the best third party deals there, and it’s the first place I go to find cheap Orioles tickets. Click here to find Orioles tickets on SeatGeek.

There you go, four helpful tips to help you save money on Orioles tickets and use the extra cash for waffle fries. If you’d like to know more ways to save mucho dinero on tickets, parking and everything else at Oriole Park, be sure to subscribe to the Oriole Park at Camden Yards newsletter series!

(SeatGeek logo courtesy of SeatGeek.)

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

Cheap Parking at Camden Yards – 3 Spots

Posted by Kurt Smith

What you pay for Camden Yards parking at Orioles games generally depends on where you’re coming from…spots north of the ballpark tend to command a higher price, being closer to the nightlife and more ritzy hotels.

So if you’d like to go cheap parking at Camden Yards, and go for an easier out too, here are a few spots south of the ballpark that may work better for you:

 

cheap parking at camden yards orioles lots

Don’t be confused by the alphabet soup. Use F, G, or H.

Cheap Parking at Camden Yards, Spot #1) Orioles Lots F, G, and H. You can actually book spots ahead of time in Orioles Lots B and C close to the ballpark fairly cheaply, if you do it well enough ahead of time on the Orioles website…do that if you can.

But Lots F, G, and H near the Ravens’ stadium tend to be the cheapest choices, and they’re not too far away. You can even use the Light Rail one stop to the ballpark if you want to shorten the walk.

 

cheap parking at camden yards horseshoe casino

No, the valet parking isn’t any closer to the ballpark.

Cheap Parking at Camden Yards, Spot #2) The Horseshoe Casino. The Horseshoe is about a mile walk from Camden Yards, and you probably wouldn’t want to walk it at night. The neighborhood isn’t all that bad, just industrial and desolate in the dark.

But for day games, a free parking spot in an attended garage works well, and the walk isn’t too bad…Google calls it at about 18 minutes. No light rail near the casino yet, unfortunately, but maybe in the future…

 

cheap parking at camden yards banditos

Mexican food and Orioles baseball. Your day is complete.

Cheap Parking at Camden Yards, Spot #3) Banditos Bar. Banditos is a Federal Hill institution that recently started offering rides to patrons going to Orioles and Ravens games, and you can park on the street nearby free of charge, or in an inexpensive garage nearby.

It’s actually about as long a walk as the Horseshoe if you don’t want to get a meal beforehand, but Banditos gets pretty good reviews, they have daily food and drink specials, and you get a free ride (although you probably should tip the driver).

There’s three Camden Yards parking options that won’t break your bank at your next O’s game. Try one and let me know how it worked out.

Photo of Bandito’s shuttle courtesy of Bandito’s Bar.

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More Camden Yards Food Options – Crab Stuff!

Posted by Kurt Smith

I’ve covered a few Camden Yards food options…you can learn about a bit about the Yard’s menu here, but Oriole Park is still in Maryland last time I looked, so crab stuff is pretty popular. Enough to devote a separate post to it.

Here are three more favorite Camden Yards food options of mine, just because I love Old Bay…

 

camden yards food options waffle fries

The Old Bay addition makes it Orioles colors!

1) Crab Dip Waffle Fries. This is a pretty big go-to item for Orioles fans. If you’re familiar with the Chick-Fil-A waffle fries (and who isn’t?), they’re like them, but topped with Maryland crab dip sauce, and you can shake on some Old Bay seasoning at a condiment stand.

Get them at Old Bay Seafood, Freestate Fries or the Flying Dog stands, and get a fork…you’ll thank me.

 

camden yards food options crab chipper

Check out those scallions!

2) The Crab Chipper. The Chipper stand has become one of the more popular Camden Yards food options now since its arrival in 2015 – and this Crab Chipper features kettle chips (or pork rinds!) topped with crab meat, white cheddar, green onions and Old Bay…so they’re, you know, kind of like fancy nachos.

It’s a decent quantity of food too, especially if you get them in a souvenir helmet. Way salty though, so grab a drink with it…

 

camden yards food options crab cake

The Official State Fish of Maryland.

3) The Old Bay Seafood Crab Cake. I remember in the early days of Oriole Park watching a friend of mine shell out $4 for a crab cake the size of a golf ball. This was before ballparks were known for food options. Hope he enjoyed it.

Today the crab cakes may be more expensive, but they’re now appropriately baseball-sized and much tastier – the Orioles had a chef sample 50 local crab cakes (!) to come up with a recipe for this OPACY delicacy. Hopefully not at once. The Old Bay stands are in the lower and upper concourses.

 

camden yards food options jumbo crab cake sandwich

You gonna eat that?

4) Bonus Option! The Jumbo Crab Cake Sandwich at the Pickles tent. I don’t know if it’s actually Pickles Pub that serves up this tasty sandwich in the big food tents they set up outside before each game. But the nice thing is getting a decent-sized crab cake sandwich for a few bucks less than inside (I think this was $10)…get it wrapped up and take it in.

There you go…three crab-tasty Camden Yards food options, with an extra base thrown in at no additional charge.

 

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

Visiting Camden Yards – 5 Tips For Newbies

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re visiting Camden Yards in Baltimore for the first time, there’s a few things you should know about one of America’s greatest sports venues.

Here are five tips for a great Baltimore baseball experience. One thing…this article contains affiliate links, through which Ballpark E-Guides earns a commission. (Thanks for your support!)

 

visiting camden yards cushioned seats

Cushions in baseball seats? I’ve finally arrived!

Visiting Camden Yards Tip #1: Upgrade your seat preferences. The Orioles offer some of the better prices on high end seats in baseball right now; if you want to splurge on Club seating or Field Box behind home plate, Camden Yards is the place to do it.

If you don’t care which game you go to, try searching on SeatGeek for high end seating for a midweek game against a West Coast opponent (except for Mike Trout’s Angels, who draw a nice crowd from South Jersey), and you may find a top seat at a very good price.

 

Camden Yards obstructed view

Who’s winning? Can you look it up for me?

Visiting Camden Yards Tip 2: Almost all the seats are good, but… you should stay away from the higher rows of Terrace Box and Lower Reserved seating.

These sections are among the cheapest seats in the ballpark for a reason; the overhang blocks a good portion of the view of the scoreboard, skyline and even much of the warehouse. OK on a hot day, maybe, but not if you really want to experience Camden Yards…which is, after all, very much about the view.

 

visiting camden yards parking

Should be easy right? Sure…if you’ve already reserved a spot.

Visiting Camden Yards Tip #3: Pick a parking spot beforehand. There’s a lot of parking at Camden Yards, but you don’t want to be searching for an affordable spot on game day, especially north of the ballpark and in the Inner Harbor area.

I have used ParkWhiz with success in the past, and if you use it you’ll know exactly where to go, instead of sitting at two hour long red lights with $30 garages everywhere you look.

If you haven’t booked a spot, park at a lot near M&T Bank Stadium for the best deal (and least traffic), but it’s much better to book ahead. (I speak from bitter experience.)

 

visiting camden yards crab fries

It’s baseball. It’s Maryland. Old Bay makes it right.

Visiting Camden Yards Tip #4: Try the crab dip waffle fries. You can find these at the Freestate Fries or Flying Dog stands; they’re waffle fries covered with a very Maryland-style crab dip. You can sprinkle some Old Bay on it from the condiment sections nearby.

There’s other great food stuffs like Boog’s turkey sandwiches or the Dempsey’s Walk-Off, but if you’re gonna have one Camden Yards food item, this is a pretty good choice. And it won’t fill you up too much. Grab a fork for them. Finally…

 

visiting camden yards welcome

Well, thank you. Your ballpark is much cheaper than the one we go to in (New York/Boston/Toronto).

Visiting Camden Yards Tip #5: If you’re a visiting team fan… cheer your Red Sox or Yankees or Blue Jays all you want…just be mindful that Baltimore is offering you a pretty nice baseball experience at probably a better price than your own team is. Be respectful of Orioles fans, they deal with more visitors than just about any fan base.

Don’t bring bad karma on your team…early in 2011 a visiting Red Sox fan threw an Orioles home run ball back onto the field. That year the Red Sox blew a nine-game lead in September and were eliminated from playoff contention the last day of the season…in Baltimore. Coincidence? I’ve seen stranger acts of the baseball gods.

 

There you go; five tips for newbies visiting Camden Yards for the first or second time…and don’t forget the Brooks Robinson statue and the pre-game party at Slider’s/Pickles Pub across Russell Street. Baltimoreans love hanging out where there are cheap Natty Bohs to be had, and they’re a fun bunch.

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

3 Camden Yards Seating Tips

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re on a budget and looking for a great seat at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I have three Camden Yards seating tips for you, the distinguished baseball fan…

 

Camden Yards Seating upper level

Objects in background are closer than they appear.

Camden Yards Seating Tip #1) Upper Level Behind Home Plate. If you’re looking for a cheap Orioles ticket and a great seat, go for the upper level at Camden Yards.

 

One of the nice things the designers of Camden Yards insisted on was not having open concourses, which in my mind is among the more overrated features of new ballparks. Okay, maybe it’s nice to stand at a counter and eat your sandwich while watching the action. But I spend much less time doing that than sitting in my seat.

 

With no open concourses and just one level of suites, the upper level at Camden Yards is closer to the action than in most ballparks—especially the newer ones. The upper seats behind home plate are like those at Wrigley Field…and cheaper to boot.

 

The other nice thing about these seats is the stunning view of the Baltimore skyline—which has been marred somewhat by the Hilton blocking the view of the Bromo-Seltzer Tower, but is still picturesque nonetheless. Lower level seats have don’t have quite the view of downtown Baltimore.

 

I’m not saying that you can’t get a lower level seat for a great deal; you can. I’m only suggesting that if you want to go really cheap, you can still get a great seat at Oriole Park.

 

Camden Yards obstructed view

You don’t want to be this high up.

Camden Yards Seating Tip #2) Lower Rows of Terrace Box Seats

 

The Terrace Box sections down the foul lines at Camden Yards, most notably the odd-numbered sections from 11-17 and 55-65, are a great deal for the price…so long as you’re in a low enough row.

 

The reason for the lowered cost is that the upper rows down the line are covered by an overhang, and you likely won’t be able to see the scoreboard or have a nice panoramic view of the ballpark. Such seats are nice on a rainy or hot day, but you won’t feel so much like you’re a part of the whole ballpark atmosphere.

 

But if you can find a low enough row in these sections, say Row 4 or lower, it’s a very nice seat at a great price. You should still be able to see everything, and you’ll be closer to the action than in the upper level.

 

camden yards seating roof deck

Counters make the baseball experience immeasurably better.

Camden Yards Seating Tip #3) The Roof Deck. OK, it technically isn’t seating, unless you get one of the barstool seats in the front. But the relatively new Roof Deck has some things going for it.

The Roof Deck is in straightaway center field, above the batter’s eye. It takes a flight of steps to get there. There are two rows of barstools in the front of the Deck with counters, and the view isn’t bad for seats so far away.

On the Roof Deck is a full bar that is covered from the elements, making it easy to escape the sun or rain…and escaping the July sun in Baltimore can be a very welcome thing. There are lounge style seats and stools at the bar, but there’s no view of the game from there except on TV.

The barstools are reserved seating now, and they’re popular so you have to order them ahead of time. But anyone with a ticket can access the rest of the Roof Deck, and it’s a cool hangout spot.

And it’s just a flight of stairs away from excellent food options on Eutaw Street.

That’s just three seating areas, but there’s plenty to know about the rest of the seating at Oriole Park. Stay tuned for more stuff…subscribe to the Camden Yards Newsletter Series!

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

Boog’s BBQ + Other Eutaw Street Grub at Camden Yards

Posted by Kurt Smith

When first-timers visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards, they’re almost universally told to “try Boog’s BBQ.” The smoke wafting from the tent on Eutaw Street has been a feature of Camden Yards since its opening in 1992.

Long lines form at Boog’s BBQ stand, especially on high attendance nights. Fans get their picture taken with the large first baseman from the Orioles’ salad days, order a sandwich or platter of pit beef or turkey, enhance it at an impressive condiments stand, and either sit at a Eutaw Street picnic table to eat or watch batting practice.

 

boogs bbq platter camden yards

Not hard to see why it’s so popular.

The pit beef is recommended most by online reviewers, but the turkey sandwich is pretty good too, and the platters with slaw and beans offer decent value; you likely won’t be hungry afterward. One Orioles employee suggested to me to bring your own bread and get your sandwich “naked” to get more meat on your plate. Worth the effort. Oh, and the condiment stand there is banging…take advantage.

Try to get to Boog’s BBQ early, if you don’t want to miss any of the game.

 

dempseys camden yards beer

True Birds fans know that Rick Dempsey was good enough to have beer named after him.

Dempsey’s, named for the popular O’s catcher and 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey, is a restaurant built into the warehouse. It features brick walls, O’s memorabilia, and beer taps with craft brews like Rain Delay IPA (click here to see why Dempsey is associated with rain delays).

The menu is pub-style and includes appetizers like crab cakes and rock fish tacos, and the main menu is mostly burgers and sandwiches, like the Dempsey Club. There’s also the “Walk-Off”: a Roma sausage in a pretzel roll with Old Bay crab dip. Save some money and appetite for that one.

If you want to try Dempsey’s and not miss any of the game, you have to get to the Eutaw Street entrance as soon as the gates open. You might want to avoid Dempsey’s on giveaway nights when most fans arrive early. Long lines form very quickly, and you could be waiting a long while…enough to miss some live baseball.

Prices aren’t terribly bad for a ballpark restaurant, and Dempsey’s is open on non-game days. Don’t miss Rick’s poetic dedication to Memorial Stadium inside.

 

esskay dogs camden yards

OK I give, where’s the mustard?

Elsewhere on Eutaw are a few of the unique food stands at Camden Yards. There’s the Bud & Burgers and Stuggy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs at the north end, where you can order unusual burgers and dogs (the crab mac and cheese dog is very popular) in case a simple hot dog doesn’t wow you.

There’s also a Eutaw Street Market in the warehouse where you can find some grab and go items, and at the south end of Eutaw is a new Eutaw Street Gyro Grill. You may lament the disappearance of the “other” BBQ stand, but the gyros and spinach pies are pretty good. Besides, Boog’s BBQ is plenty BBQ enough.

That’s just scratching the surface of the Camden Yards menu, however; not only are there some great selections around the concourse for fans looking for crab stuff, but you can get decent grub outside of the ballpark too.

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

3 Camden Yards Photo-Ops For Fans

Posted by Kurt Smith

Here are a few Camden Yards photo-ops for the traveling fan. You’ll thank me…

 

Camden Yards tips Eutaw Street

Ha! We beat all of you to our seats!

Camden Yards Photo-Ops, #1: Eutaw Street. Just because it isn’t on your list to get a barbecued turkey sandwich from Boog’s doesn’t mean you should miss Eutaw Street. Eutaw is the actual street name, but in the ballpark it is sandwiched between the Warehouse and the baseball field.

This is where the bulk of the non-ballgame attractions are; not just getting your picture taken with Boog Powell, but also snagging long balls hit in batting practice, visiting the team store, and reading the round plaques where all of the home runs landed on Eutaw.

I highly recommend entering the ballpark at one of the Eutaw Street gates in fact (except on giveaway nights); this is where you get all of your pre-game entertainment in.

 

Camden Yards Tips Memorial Stadium

These letters were actually taken from the old stadium.

Camden Yards Photo-Ops, #2: The Memorial Stadium Dedication. Memorial Stadium was the home of the Orioles for 37 years; its replacing even with the magnificent Camden Yards still causes heavy hearts in older O’s fans.

One of the striking visual features of the Memorial Stadium façade was its dedication to the fallen soldiers in the World Wars in its unusual lettering. Recently the letters in the last sentence of this dedication—“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds”—were placed near Gate C at the southern end of the warehouse. If you’re an older fan, it will bring back memories.

 

Wasn’t he the guy that posed in Jockey underwear?

Camden Yards Photo-Ops, #3: Retired Numbers. The retired number statues are in the plaza at the north warehouse entrance, and the nice thing about it is that there aren’t likely to be many additions to them soon.

There are six of them, dedicated to classic Orioles like manager Earl Weaver, pitching great Jim Palmer, and of course, consecutive games record holder Cal Ripken Jr. Most teams have their retired numbers on display somewhere, but not many have actual statues of the numbers. Worth a look.

Want to know more about Camden Yards? Sign up here for my completely free Oriole Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

Memorial Stadium: What Really Made It Special

Posted by Kurt Smith

In his excellent book “Ballpark: Camden Yards and the Building of an American Dream”, author Peter Richmond briefly discusses the emotional passing of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. He sums up the attachment Orioles fans had to 33rd Street by saying “it was what happened on the field that made Memorial Stadium special”.

I’ve seen this sentiment echoed in other places, and in remembrance of a great ballpark, I respectfully disagree.

Without being critical of Richmond, he somewhat implies that Memorial Stadium wasn’t a great place to see a ballgame. And while his statement about the events on the field was true to an extent, as any O’s fan would acknowledge, it wasn’t the whole truth. A true Memorial Stadium tribute deservedly praises what was a great place for a night of baseball.

To fully appreciate how great Memorial was, consider the period that it lived in.

 

Memorial Stadium tribute RFK Washington

Are you SURE we’re going to a baseball game?

The Orioles played on 33rd Street from 1954 through 1991. 30 miles south, the Washington Senators began playing in cavernous D.C. Stadium (now RFK) in 1962, and played there through 1971 before moving to Texas and becoming the Rangers. Meanwhile, about 90 miles north in Philadelphia, the Phillies moved into Veterans Stadium in 1971—another venue designed more for football than baseball.

The multipurpose donuts that baseball fans sneered at for years were actually fairly popular when they first burst on the scene. With Busch in St. Louis, Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Riverfront in Cincinnati, and many others, cities and teams went the route of football stadiums that could be tweaked for baseball, with easy to maintain carpeted fields and locations near an airport.

Nowadays, ask most baseball fans what the worst venues are, and two names pop up frequently: Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay with its carpet and roof, and O.Co Coliseum in Oakland with its “Mount Davis” grandstand tactlessly tacked on for Raiders fans. During its tenure as home of the Florida Marlins, Sun Life Stadium usually ranked pretty high too.

Memorial Stadium, on the other hand, seemed to be designed more as a venue for baseball than football. Fans would tell you it wasn’t great for football, even as it earned the nickname “The World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum” during the Colts’ glory years. This became even more pronounced when the Colts moved out of town, and the Memorial Stadium baseball field was no longer stained by the yard lines of a lesser sport in Septembers.

 

first phillies game the final season memorial

The “water fountain” dedication.

As a young baseball fan growing up in the Philadelphia area, the two-hour trip to Baltimore and an Orioles game was light years ahead of seeing a game at the concrete donut in Philly on the happiness meter. From top to bottom, everything seemed more special in Memorial.

It was smaller and humbler. It had a much more attractive brick façade on the outside, with a stunning and poignant dedication to World War II soldiers that I never neglected to read as we waited in line to get in.

It was in a residential neighborhood, which made parking difficult but was much easier to look at. The light towers stood majestically over the field, the first element of the ballpark to come into view after a seemingly endless ride on Loch Raven Boulevard.

Inside, the field was smellable grass, the seating almost everywhere featuring a pleasant background of the houses beyond center field. The hot dogs weren’t just hot dogs—they were Esskay Superdogs…what happened to them? (I’ll put the Esskay Superdog up against the Fenway Frank or Dodger Dog any day of the week, but that’s a biased O’s fan talking.)

 

The classic cartoon Oriole.

Sure, what happened there was baseball greatness. Part of what made being an Orioles fan special was a great team full of lovable characters. Of course Birds fans loved Brooks Robinson’s superhuman reflexes at third base, Jim Palmer’s perfectly graceful windup, and Earl Weaver’s manic fury with umpires.

The team was full of unsung heroes too in my youth—like steady outfielder Al Bumbry, the classic platoon of Gary Roenicke and John Lowenstein, goaltender and team leader Rick Dempsey, and solid relief pitchers like Tippy Martinez and Don “Fullpack” Stanhouse (so nicknamed for the amount of cigarettes Weaver would smoke when he was on the mound).

There was nothing like Orioles Magic and teams that won so frequently with late-inning heroics. Being an Orioles fan was special, something you felt no other team’s fans had, not even Yankees fans.

But all of that was a huge bonus. Memorial Stadium was distinguished as a venue too, and just as much so when the Orioles faltered in the 1980s. It sat on 33rd Street, not being flashy, not going along with all of the modern, economically friendly and equally sterile venues of the 70s and 80s that treated baseball as a secondary sport. Had it lasted as long as Tiger Stadium or Comiskey Park, it may have been just as revered.

It was grass. It was open. It was bricks. It was all of the things teams eventually realized that they had forgotten in their concrete and plastic new homes. For a ballgame, few places were better than Memorial Stadium in its day. Of all of the stadiums back then, it was one of the few that actually didn’t need replacing, at least on baseball-friendliness grounds.

When Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in 1992, it was a spectacular triumph and instantly won over baseball fans everywhere. It is still today one of baseball’s best venues.

But it had to be. Orioles fans my age remember the shoes it had to fill.

 

Rick Dempsey’s poem dedicated to the pile of bricks on 33rd Street.

 

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Earl Weaver Tribute: He Made Me An Orioles Fan

Posted by Kurt Smith

Earl Weaver Tribute

Still the best Orioles manager ever.

On June 23, 1979, at the age of 11, I experienced what is still today my most memorable night at a ballpark.

It was a time when teams still held two games in a day for the price of one on occasion, and a time when the Orioles drew just over a million fans in good seasons—about 15,000 a game. That day, or more correctly that afternoon and night, the Orioles were taking on the Tigers in a twi-nighter.

My father had a connection at Memorial Stadium, who often would have great seats for us, but this night we weren’t so lucky, and we ended up in the upper level seats in left field. But it turned out to be a great spot to watch the flight of Eddie Murray’s walk-off home run ball in the first game, to the earthshaking delight of the crowd of 45,814 – a record for a Baltimore night doubleheader at the time. I still remember that announcement on the scoreboard, and enough beer splashing on me after Murray’s swing that I thought it started raining.

The Orioles had been down 6-2 in that first game and won 8-6. In the second game, the O’s would again overcome a 5-3 deficit with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to win 6-5. You can imagine the impression two dramatic come-from-behind wins made on an 11-year-old. My first game at the Vet in Philly was a great one, but it didn’t top this.

The 1979 Orioles especially were known for dramatic comeback wins, with a disproportionately large number of their 102 wins coming in the 8th inning or later. “Orioles Magic”, it was called, and it was attributed to both a dedicated fan base and the mood lift caused by “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” being played during the 7th-inning stretch at Memorial Stadium. With all due respect to O’s fans and John Denver, the Orioles late-inning heroics were probably more attributable to the amazing tactician in the dugout.

Earl Weaver certainly had the best overall talent in baseball from 1969-1971, when the Orioles went to three straight World Series with Brooks and Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Paul Blair and the pitching tandem of Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar. The team won over 100 games in each of those seasons, winning 217 in 1969 and 1970.

But name some of the players in the later 1970s and early 1980s teams that were always in the thick of a pennant race in the toughest division in baseball. There was Jim Palmer and Eddie Murray, and…who? Longtime O’s fans remember the likes of Dempsey, MacGregor, Flanagan, Bumbry and Dauer, and possibly the best outfield platoon in history of Lowenstein and Roenicke, but if you weren’t an O’s fan, you likely wouldn’t know all their first names.

The Orioles challenged the Yankees and Red Sox, and the Tigers and Brewers, for the AL East crown every year with players that were never among the league leaders in any stat. But Weaver knew exactly when and how to use them. He kept records on everything, batting averages against certain pitchers, pitching success against certain batters. AL umpire Ron Luciano, with whom Earl had classic feuds, once said that “in a late inning situation, Earl would send up the batboy to hit. Everyone in the ballpark knew it was a ridiculous move. And the batboy would get a hit.”

I have a friend who understood me enough to get me tickets for a game at Camden Yards for my birthday in 1996. In the second row. As what I now consider great fortune would have it, that was the day the Orioles were celebrating Earl Weaver’s induction into the Hall of Fame. Part of the ceremony was Earl being driven around the field in a convertible sitting on the back of the car.

So Earl Weaver passed right by me, just a few feet away. I cheered extra enthusiastically as he went by, and he smiled and shook his fist a little for me.

What I didn’t know at the time was that the car was driven by Marty Springstead, another umpire with whom Earl frequently feuded. Presumably his appearance would suggest that their spats were behind them, but Springstead later said he was tempted to slam on the brakes and send Weaver flying.

No, umpires did not like Weaver. It was one of the funnier themes that ran through Luciano’s hilarious books. Luciano not only shared his own classic stories about Weaver, like ejecting Weaver in both ends of a doubleheader in the minors, but several other umpires’ stories as well.

In his book “Strike Two”, Luciano wrote about how managers get ejected and said that Weaver “can be used as an example of everything a manager should not do, except manage. For someone who spent much of his career in the clubhouse, he won a lot of ballgames.”

With baseball’s new replay system, the current generation of fans may never appreciate what an entertaining part of the game arguing with umpires could be. Weaver was one of the best.

And he had a reason for his fury with umpires. He was fully aware that his own ejection would not hurt the team. He could manage from the runway. But if Eddie Murray or Frank Robinson got ejected over a bad call, it would hurt the team. Luciano even admitted that Earl had his own way of making an umpire forget his problems with an Oriole player.

His players—like Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who wrote the hilarious book “Together We Were Eleven Foot Nine” about his often stormy relationship with Weaver—were also well aware of Weaver’s almost psychotic dedication to winning. Once he pulled Rick Dempsey from a game after a fundamental mistake, and then hounded him all the way into the shower screaming at him, until Dempsey turned on the water—and then turned on the cold water until a soaked Earl finally left.

And there was Don Stanhouse, a pitcher O’s fans my age remember well, whose style was unheard of even to this day: he would simply walk guys until he got to someone he could get out. It worked. And you can imagine how Earl would handle it. One time he walked the bases loaded with the Orioles ahead in the ninth; Earl screamed at pitching coach Ray Miller to “get out there and tell him to throw strikes!” Miller went out to the mound to a grinning Stanhouse and told him his fly was open. Stanhouse told him to tell Earl not to worry. On the next pitch the batter grounded into a double play to end the game.

Stanhouse’s nickname was “Fullpack”, as in the number of cigarettes Earl would smoke when he was on the mound.

Mike Flanagan once got into a jam with the bases loaded. Earl came out to the mound and told him: “Don’t let them hit it on the ground or in the air.” Great advice. The next batter hit a line drive double play to end the inning. Flanagan returned to the dugout, greeted by Weaver: “Am I a f***in’ genius, or what?”

Yes, in the dugout, he was.

For all of the legendary bouts with umpires and the fiery berating of players, Earl Weaver was unquestionably one of the best managers in the history of the game. I remember reading baseball publications when he managed, and in his era it was rarely disputed that he was the best in the game…an era of Billy Martin, Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog and Tommy Lasorda.

My favorite story of Weaver’s skill came from Elrod Hendricks. It’s in the book “From 33rd Street to Camden Yards”, an excellent collection of quotes from key figures in Orioles history. It was Weaver vs. Tony LaRussa, when LaRussa was a new manager.

“When I’d just started coaching and Tony LaRussa was the hot new thing managing, he’d come in and make all sorts of moves, and Earl would just sit back with his arms crossed. And LaRussa is looking over at Earl like he’s getting him, you know. And then it’s the eighth inning, and LaRussa is out of bullets, and here comes Earl with Jim Dwyer and Terry Crowley and that bullpen. Earl just hammers him. And you go ‘Boy, that’s good. That’s as good as it gets, right there.’”

I share this Earl Weaver tribute because the Orioles were part of my life, and they are so because Orioles games at Memorial Stadium are my fondest memory of childhood. And they were fond memories because the Orioles won, often in an unforgettably thrilling way. And that, very often, was because of Earl Weaver.

So although the closest I ever got to meeting him was cheering him while he rode by me in a car, I still feel today the impact Earl Weaver had, on millions, and on me as an Orioles fan who reaped in excitement the reward of his excellence.

You will be missed, Earl, but you will be fondly remembered.

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