Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Visit to Birdland: Baltimore Orioles, July 2, 2008

Exactly one week after I paid my New Britain Rock Cats a visit, I found myself in Oriole Park at Camden Yards for a game between the O's and the Kansas City Royals.

You can tell that Baltimore is really proud of its team. The ballpark is almost smack dab in the middle of downtown, not far from the Inner Harbor. The streets around Camden Yards are full of stores and restaurants like this one:

There is so much detail in the planning and design of the park. Take a look at the Eutaw Street gates. All of the gates around the ballpark are like this one, with the orioles facing one another. I just thought it was a neat little detail that made you feel like you were at an old-fashioned ballpark (which was exactly what the designers of Oriole Park at Camden Yards were going after).

Here are some more examples of the thoughtfulness and care that went into the design of this ballpark. Here's one of the seats. The original logo of the first Baltimore baseball team is built into the seat.

Signs like this one were posted all over the stands. We didn't have to worry about batted balls in our left field section, at least not in this game. By the way, that oriole you see? It's taken from the logo from the 1983 team, the last Baltimore team to win a World Series.

Here's a wide shot of the outfield, with a great view of the old B&O warehouse behind right field. The warehouse now houses restaurants, team offices, and some apartments.

This was my favorite feature of the jumbotron--the Baltimore Sun clock and logo right above it. It added a really classy element to the ballpark. The orioles you see on either side of the clock are weathervanes, and they kept spinning in the breeze all night.

Here's a shot from where I was sitting, right above left field:


Here's a better shot of the action:

And here are two O's outfielders, warming up before the inning starts:
And how did the O's do that night?
It was an incredible game. The pitcher, Daniel Cabrera, had pitched a complete game. He went 0-3 in the month of June, with a 7.06 ERA, and really needed this win. He retired 14 straight batters between the fourth and eighth innings.

And that's not all! Aubrey Huff hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. Nick Markakis had an RBI double. I'm pretty sure there was a triple somewhere in there, but didn't have that listed in the game's recap (which helped me tremendously in reviewing the game's stats.) And what a feeling it was to hear "Orioles Magic" play in the stands as the crowds left the ballpark.

That game left me a fan of Orioles baseball. They're not quite up there with my love for the Mets yet, but they'll get there. (Remember, the O's played the "Miracle Mets" in the 1969 World Series--and no Met fan who was alive then will ever forget that year. Me? I'll always remember the '86 Series. I was alive then).

Finally, I leave you with this photo. Take a look at the Esskay Meats logo to the left of the scoreboard. Between innings, Esskay sponsored a "hot dog race" on the jumbotron, a computer-animated race between Mustard, Ketchup, and Relish hot dogs. Three hot dogs, each with their condiment of choice, ran, or should I say, bounced around the bases. The first hot dog to completely circle the bases was the winner--and tonight it was relish.

I mention this because Esskay, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, sponsored a brief, five-minute kids show on WRC-TV in Washington, DC. One of its stars went on to become a major international icon.

Who is this superstar? Find out in the next post!

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