333 West Camden
Baltimore, MD 21201
For ticket information call (410)
Who Plays Here: Baltimore
First Opened: April 6, 1992
Surface: Maryland Bluegrass
Architect: HOK Sport (Kansas City)
Construction: Barton Malow / Sverdrup; Danobe Construction
Owner: City of Baltimore
Cost: $100 million
to purchase from the Danbury Mint collection
The date of April 6, 1992, is to baseball what July 4, 1776, was to the
On this date, virtually every major league stadium became dated. The
cookie-cutter, multi-purpose stadium built by local government was living
on borrowed time from then on; a new age was ushered in, and self-evident
truths like natural grass turf, asymmetric dimensions, baseball-only
venues, seats angled towards the infield, and classical architectural
touches were invoked in a grand new human experiment.
thesis: As football gained power in the late 1960s and 1970s, local
governments wanted to fold baseball parks and football stadia into one
facility. The trend began with RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, which
at the time was hailed as a work of genius - pretty soon, the list of
imitators included Milwaukee's County Stadium,
Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium,
Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the
Houston AstroDome, Cincinnati's Riverfront
Stadium, Toronto's Exhibition
Stadium, Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia's Veteran's
and others. Some truly were technological marvels, but all lacked
character, charm, personality and warmth.
Football demanded a greater capacity than baseball, so the sightlines were
generally terrible; the seats far away from the action, and the
cookie-cutter stadia ended up looking like hollowed out bowls.
With the notable exception of Busch, little
effort was spent on aesthetics, with visible walking ramps and impersonal
antithesis: Local governments though they could generate revenues by
playing baseball and football in the same facility, but instead they ended
depressing baseball attendance. For instance, attendance in Oakland
dropped from 2.9 million in 1990 to just 1.2 million in 1998, almost exactly
where it was way back in 1973. In Milwaukee, attendance in the late
1990s was actually down
from the 1952-1957 period, when the franchise first moved to Milwaukee.
Even baseball-crazy Cincinnati has recently seen its
attendance drop from the levels it maintained in 1973.
The beginning of the revolution was Kauffman
Stadium, in Kansas City, in 1973 - then known as Royals Stadium -
into motion an evolution in thinking. While Kansas City wanted a
football stadium as well, they built one (Arrowhead) next door to a baseball-only park. The artificial turf was an unfortunate
mistake, and the cookie-cutter dimensions exhibited the deficient
conventional wisdom at the time. But at least we were on the right
track - the park was beautiful, the seats were all great, and attendance
spiked from 707,656 in 1972 to 1,345,341 in 1973 to 2,288,714 in 1980 to
2,477,700 in 1989. But expansion teams didn't buy it - the Blue
Jays, the Expos and the Mariners all went with the cookie-cutter
In downtown Chicago, New Comiskey Park was built in 1991, and initially at
least it met with rave reviews. It brought back the urban ballpark,
and it was the first new baseball-only stadium built in the American League
since Kauffman in 1973. High-tech and full of amenities, New
Comiskey set a franchise attendance record (2,934,154) in its first year. But it still
had problems: the architecture didn't reflect the brick-and-iron look of
Chicago's South Side, and many of the seats were far removed from the
action (especially in the upper deck, where fans are 60 feet higher than
they were in Old Comiskey).
synthesis: Oriole Park at Camden Yards kept what was best about the
old ballparks while offering the benefits of the new parks. It
introduced asymmetry, a throwback to classic ballparks like Hilltop Park
in New York, League Park in Cleveland, and
Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, and
was faced with a beautiful wrought iron and brick facade to cover up the
walkways, just like old stadia used to do. It kept the amenities of
the newer parks, and offered a view of the host city - a
nice modern touch replicated in the new urban ballparks. It also built the
upper deck without the supports which obstruct the view in older stadia
like Yankee Stadium.
Camden Yards is the first of the retro parks. A number of cities have
followed suit with beautiful, traditional ballparks - Arlington, TX;
Phoenix, AZ; Cleveland, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; Denver, CO; Detroit,
MI; and San Francisco, CA, for instance - but you never forget your first, do
The success of Oriole Park at Camden Yards was inspiring; it was met with
universal acclaim. The architects (Helmuth, Obata & Kassabaum of
Kansas City) had no need to configure seats for football, so they put
every seat near the action and configured them to face home plate.
This seemingly innocuous detail, the sunroof over the gentle slope of the upper deck,
grass turf, and an asymmetrical playing field all changed the way the game
is viewed and gave fans a feel for the traditional ballparks at around the
turn of the century.
Among the park's better features are the double-decked bullpens in
left-center field, which are unique
in the majors. The park's ambiance is boosted by the Baltimore &
Ohio Warehouse, which sits behind the right field wall. The building
is the longest on the East Coast (1,016 feet long by 51 feet wide); the
warehouse was actually shut down in 1974, after being in operation since
1898, but the Orioles restored it to give the park some atmosphere.
Babe Ruth's father ran Ruth's Cafe from 1906 to 1912 in an area that is
now in right-center field, at 406 Conway Street, and Ruth himself was born
just a few blocks away. A statue of Ruth himself stands outside the
ballpark, on Eutaw St. - the Bambino was born just minutes away from where
the park now stands.
In 1992, attendance in the new ballpark reached 3,567,819, trailing only
the SkyDome, which topped 4 million for the
second straight year. In 1993 and 1994, Camden Yards trailed only
the SkyDome among American League ballparks in fan attendance, and from
1995 to 1998 it was the AL's top draw. In 1998, it also topped the
majors - the novelty of Coors Field had
worn off by then, and attendance in the tin air of Denver stabilized in
the 3.25 million range. In 1999, Cleveland's Jacobs
Field narrowly topped Camden Yards, which saw a drop-off in attendance
by about 300,000 as the uninspiring team faltered to a 4th-place finish in
the AL East. The Indians romped to the AL Central title by 21 games.
History: Former Baltimore mayor William Donald Schaefer became governor of Maryland
in the mid-1980s, and helped push plans for a baseball-only stadium
through the state legislature. Eli Jacobs, who owned the Orioles
when the ballpark was built, wanted to call it Oriole Park. Schaefer
preferred Camden Yards. Finally, they agreed on Oriole Park at
The 33-month construction cost over
$100 million, and included the football-only PSINet Stadium at Camden
Yards, right next door, where the Baltimore Ravens play. Both stadia
were financed by a new instant lottery game - another reason to cheer for
The ballpark placed a large number of seats around the infield, leaving
with relatively few outfield seats. Not surprisingly, the Orioles
led the American League in attendance every year since 1995. This is
now the modern yardstick by which each new park is judged.
is 16-feet below street-level and is made up of Prescription Athletic Turf
(PAT), a sophisticated irrigation and drainage system below a natural
Oriole Park at Camden Yards Firsts:
Opening - April 6, 1992 vs. Cleveland Indians
Pitch - Rick
Batter - Kenny Lofton
Hit - Paul Sorrento
RBI - Chris
Home run - Michael Tucker
Grand slam - Randy
Stolen base - Mark Lewis
Strikeout - Mark Whiten
The ballpark plays tough on hitters, especially in the early
months of the year when the temperature is cooler. At night, during
the warm summer months, the ball carries well, especially to left field,
since the prevailing winds blow from right to left. Still, Camden
Yards has suppressed run production significantly over the years.
The playing field is well-kept and the ball takes clean, soft,
true hops here. The infield grass is cut higher than in
almost any other American League ballpark - that and the great visibility
for fielders reduces errors substantially. The outfield
walls angle the ball into center field, instead of giving bounces
that go back to the outfielders. But the modest dimensions
of the park and the thick grass makes their job easier.
Although the walls are asymmetrical, there aren't a lot of doubles
and triples here.
benefits: The high grass helps infielders who don't possess great
range, which is exactly who the Orioles have patrolling the infield (Delino
DeShields and Cal Ripken). This also benefits pitchers who get a lot
of ground balls and who keep the ball down in the strike zone. The park has tended to be tough on hitters, reducing batting
averages and runs significantly. The park tends to play neutral for
home runs, though.
In his last three seasons here, Mike Mussina was 24-15 at home with a 3.22
ERA, and 18-17 with a 4.02 ERA on the road.
gets hurt: The alley in right-center is further away than the alley in
left-center, and the 25-foot wall in right doesn't help left-handed power
hitters either. The foul pole in right is just 318 feet away, but
only extreme pull hitters can take advantage of it because the wall slips
quickly away to a reasonably deep alley. RHR have outstripped LHR by about 20% over the last three
MD: Left field (NNW) looks out over Camden Street; the third base side
(WSW) is on Russell Street; the first base side (S SE) abuts Martin Luther
King Boulevard; and right field (ENE) is on Howard Street.
field: 333 ft.
left-center: 410 ft.
field: 400 ft.
field: 318 ft.
- Lowest run factor in AL in 2001
- Lowest double factor in AL in 2001
- Lowest LHB avg factor in AL in 2001
- Highest walk factor in AL in 2000
- Lowest double factor in AL in 1999
- Second lowest LHR factor in AL in
- The playing field is 16 feet below
- Fans yell "O" (for Orioles)
in unison when "The Star-Spangled Banner" reaches "O
Say does that star-spangled banner yet wave..."
- Located just two blocks from the
birthplace of Babe Ruth.