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Oriole Park at Camden Yards

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Camden13 top2

Camden Yards.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards
is a ballpark located in Baltimore, Maryland, which was completed in 1992 to replace the aging Memorial Stadium. It is the home field of the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball. It was the first of the "retro" major league ballparks constructed during the 1990s and early 2000s, and remains one of the most highly praised.[1] It is situated in the southwest corner of downtown Baltimore close to the Inner Harbor.

Historically, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is one of several venues that have carried the "Oriole Park" name for various Baltimore franchises over the years. The park is typically known in short as "Camden Yards."

HistoryEdit

ConstructionEdit

In 1989, construction began on an all-new, baseball-only ballpark for the Baltimore Orioles. Construction lasted 33 months and the ballpark opened on April 6, 1992, when the Orioles hosted the Cleveland Indians. After considerable debate on whether to name the new ballpark "Oriole Park" or "Camden Yards" — former Orioles owner Eli Jacobs favored Oriole Park while then-Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer favored Camden Yards — a compromise was reached to use both names.[2]

The first "downtown retro" ballpark was the minor league Dunn Tire Park in Buffalo, which opened four years earlier and was designed by HOK Sport, the same architecture firm that designed Camden Yards. The success of the retro-style Camden Yards sparked a trend in other cities of constructing more traditional, fan-friendly ballparks in downtown locations. Prior to Camden Yards, the predominant design trend of stadiums was symmetrical dual-purpose "concrete doughnuts" located in the suburbs. The Orioles' previous home, Memorial Stadium, was a "concrete doughnut"[3] (although not in the suburbs, it was well outside the downtown area). Baltimore could have easily followed the old pattern, as the original design proposed by HOK Sport was very similar to the new Comiskey Park. However, at the urging of architectural consultant Janet Marie Smith, the Orioles turned it down, preferring a retro-style park.

1993-presentEdit

Camden Yards hosted the 1993 MLB All-Star Game. On June 18, 1994, 43 fans were injured in an escalator accident; one of the stadium's multiple-story escalators, overcrowded with fans heading to their upper-deck seats, jerked backward, throwing passengers to the bottom landing. On September 6, 1995, Camden Yards witnessed Cal Ripken, Jr.'s record-setting 2,131st consecutive game (the layout of the playing field was, in fact, somewhat designed to match Ripken's hitting style). Exactly one year later, Eddie Murray blasted his 500th home runthere.

File:Oriole Park Baltimore2.jpg

Two orange seats stand out from the park's trademark sea of dark green plastic chairs. One, located at Section 96, Row D, Seat 23 in the right-center field bleachers (officially known as the Eutaw Street Reserve sections), commemorates the spot where Murray's 500th home run landed. The other, Section 86, Row FF, Seat 10 in the left field bleachers, was the landing spot for Ripken's 278th home run as a shortstop, breaking Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks's record for the position. That home run was hit on July 15, 1993. Ripken finished his career with 345 home runs as a shortstop and 431 overall.

The only no-hitter thrown at Camden Yards to date was tossed by Hideo Nomo, then with the Boston Red Sox, on April 4, 2001. Nomo faced 30 Orioles batters, walking Mike Bordick twice and Chris Richard once, as the Red Sox won, 3-0.

AttendanceEdit

Between 1992–2000, the Orioles averaged more than 40,000 spectators per game, with a total attendance of 3.71 million persons in the 1997 season.[4] Since then, attendance has declined to 2.16 million in the 2006 and 2007 seasons.[4] The current single game highest attendance record at Camden Yards is 49,828, set on July 10, 2005 against the Boston Red Sox. The lowest came on April 2, 2008, when just 10,505 fans watched the Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays.[5][6]

Most memorable gamesEdit

Architecture, transportation, and the local areaEdit

Camden Yards is built at the former location of a major rail station; its name derives from the rail yards formerly on the site. The view from much of the park is dominated by the former B&O Warehouse behind the right-field wall. Many seats in the stadium also have a good view of the downtown Baltimore skyline. The stadium planners incorporated the warehouse into the architecture of the ballpark experience rather than tear it down or shorten it. The floors of the warehouse contain offices, service spaces, and a private club. The warehouse has been hit on the fly only once; Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a blast that reached the wall during the Home Run Derby contest of the 1993 MLB All-Star Game.

File:Oriole Park Baltimore.jpg

The wall of the warehouse facing the stadium once held numbers that recorded the number of consecutive games that Cal Ripken, Jr., played, changing in the middle of the 5th inning as each game became official. It elapsed until the 2,632nd game, which was the last one of Ripken's streak. It was later repeated for the countdown to Ripken's 3,000th hit. The countdown to 2,131 was re-enacted on September 8, 2005, for the 10th anniversary of the breaking of the record, and "2,632" was put back up during the week of July 23-July 29, 2007, as part of ceremonies to commemorate Ripken's entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Eutaw Street, between the stadium and the warehouse, is closed to vehicular traffic. Along this street, spectators can get a view of the game or visit the many shops and restaurants that line the thoroughfare, including Boog Powell's outdoor barbecue stand. On game days, pedestrians must have a ticket in order to walk on the part of Eutaw Street adjacent to the stadium; however, on non-game days the street is open to all, while access to the stadium is gated. Sections 90 - 98, called Eutaw Street Reserve, are located not in the stadium, but adjacent to Eutaw Street, with the seats descending toward the outfield below. If a game sells out, fans may purchase reduced-price "standing room only" tickets, which entitle them to enter Eutaw Street and watch the game from two designated standing areas.

Many home run balls have landed on Eutaw Street, and the Orioles organization has marked the spots with small baseball-shaped bronze plaques embedded in the street, though it sometimes takes up to a year for each homer to get a plaque. The first home run to reach Eutaw Street was hit by Mickey Tettleton of the Detroit Tigers on April 20, 1992. The pitcher who surrendered the home run was Ben McDonald. Only one player has ever hit the warehouse on Eutaw Street: during the 1993 Home Run Derby held at Oriole Park, Ken Griffey Jr. hit a ball off the base of the warehouse. A plaque was placed at the spot, but was stolen and never replaced; however there is a bronze baseball-shaped plaque where it hit.

The bullpen area was designed after many write-in designs were submitted by the public. It's unique two-tiered design was a first in major league parks.

File:Babe Ruth statue.jpg

On the street there is also a statue, created in 1996 by sculptor Susan Luery[7], of left-handed Babe Ruth holding a right-handed fielder's glove. The statue is entitled, "Babe's Dream", and shows him at the beginning of his career, before left-handed gloves (for the right hand of a fielder) were an option. However, the inclusion of the incorrect glove on the statue was indeed the result of a lack of baseball knowledge on the part of the people working on the project. [8]

The scoreboard in center field advertises The Baltimore Sun at the top. The "H" in "The Sun" will flash to show a scoring decision of a hit, and the "E" will flash to show an error.

The stadium is the first major league park to have an outfield wall made up entirely of straight wall segments since Ebbets Field. The playing field is 16 feet below street level.

On the far side of the B&O Warehouse is the present Camden Yards station, served by both the Baltimore Light Rail and MARC commuter rail. The latter rail line provides direct service to Washington, D.C., and the former to BWI Airport. The Light Rail service began around the time the stadium opened.

The stadium is located in downtown Baltimore, near the Inner Harbor. The ballpark, along with the adjacent M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League, make up the Camden Yards Sports Complex, though Camden Yards generally refers to only the baseball stadium. The football stadium wasn't built until 1998. Camden Yards is just a short walk from Babe Ruth's birthplace, which is now a museum. Coincidentally, Ruth's father once owned a pub located in what is now center field of the stadium.

In May 2005, a new sports museum, Sports Legends at Camden Yards, opened in Camden Station. The following year, Geppi's Entertainment Museum opened above the Sports Legends museum.

Ballparks influenced by Camden YardsEdit

Since its opening day in 1992, Camden Yards was a success and fan favorite. Attendance jumped from an average of 25,722 over the last ten years of Memorial Stadium's tenure to an average of 43,490 over the first ten years of Camden Yards' existence.[9] Due to its success, many other cities have built traditional-feeling asymmetrical ballparks with modern amenities (such as skyboxes) in a downtown setting.

These ballparks include:

ControversiesEdit

Labor disputeEdit

Beginning in 2004, the Maryland Stadium Authority, the state entity that owns and operates Oriole Park, was criticized for the low pay of day-labor cleaners. About 130 workers a day are employed by a contractor for the Maryland Stadium Authority to clean the facility, making Camden Yards the largest source of temporary worker jobs in Baltimore. In 2007, the temporary janitorial workers were paid $7 an hour, more than the federal minimum wage of $5.85 at the time, but less than Baltimore's "living wage" of $9.62 and the nation-wide median wage for janitorial workers of $9.58. As temporary workers, the day-labor staff are not covered by Maryland's minimum wage law and earned $30-35 a day in 2004.[10]

In addition to the low hourly wage, stadium workers and critics complained about other conditions, saying workers were required to spend unpaid time at the stadium, were instructed to take lunch breaks in restrooms, and had to spend as much as $6 a day for transportation.[10]

Others countered that the workers are highly unskilled, and are paid on par with other similar temporary jobs. Giving them a higher wage, it was argued, could force other employers to "compete against ridiculously high wage scales for totally unskilled work," said one columnist. As a result, "Many might go out of business or fire low-wage earners, creating more homeless people and, possibly, more day laborers."[11]

On September 7, 2007, a few days ahead of a highly publicized worker hunger strike, the board of the Maryland Stadium Authority voted 4–1 to approve wage increases for the day laborers beginning in the 2008 baseball season. The board agreed to provide the workers with either Baltimore’s "living wage" of $9.62 an hour plus benefits, or the Maryland’s contactors’ "living wage" of $11.30 an hour without health benefits.[12] At the beginning of the 2008 baseball season, the Maryland Stadium Authority awarded the cleaning contract to a different company, agreeing to pay a "living-wage" rate of $11.50 per hour for the cleaners.[13] On July 24, 2008, 77 of the 130 workers voted by a margin of 64–13 to unionize, joining the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).[13] An AFSCME spokesman said that the workers are unhappy with their treatment by the stadium contractor.[13]

Blocked skyline viewsEdit

The construction in 2007–2008 of two large buildings beyond the stadium's outfield walls — a 757–room Hilton Baltimore hotel north of the stadium occupying a two-city block area and a high-rise apartment complex —has now blocked views of the city's skyline from most sections of the grandstand. The Baltimore Sun said on April 21, 2008, "There's just a glimpse of the Bromo Seltzer Tower's crenellated top just to the right of the new Hilton Baltimore Convention Center hotel ... something's drastically different at Oriole Park this year ... the sweeping view of downtown Baltimore that fans have enjoyed for the past 16 seasons has changed considerably..."[14] Sportswriter Peter Schmuck complained, "the big, antiseptic convention hotel ... looms over Camden Yards ... [and] has blocked out the best part of the Baltimore skyline".[15] A Washington Post columnist called it a "cruel cubist joke on a previously perfect ballpark", although others said they were pleased with new construction downtown as indicative of urban revitalization.[14]

In Popular CultureEdit

TriviaEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6609590
  2. Vanhooser, Cassandra M. "Inside Camden Yards." Southern Living.
  3. "Home of the Game: The Story of Camden Yards" by Thom Loverro (Taylor Publishing) ISBN 0-87833-222-7, p 57.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Aaron Cahall and Andrew Cannarsa. "Losing O's Hurt Camden Yards", 'The Baltimore Examiner', 2008-05-13, p. 17.
  5. Carroll County Times: Westminster, Maryland
  6. New York Mets - baltimoresun.com
  7. Biography of Susan Luery, the sculptor of the Babe Ruth statue. URL last accessed July 6, 2006.
  8. Oriole Park at Camden Yards - Babe's Dream; URL last accessed July 6, 2006.
  9. Baltimore Orioles Attendance Records by Baseball Almanac
  10. 10.0 10.1 Baltimore Sun: After three years of broken promises workers are fed up; accessed Aug 28, 2007.
  11. Dan Gainor: Poorly called strike at Camden Yards; last accessed Aug 28, 2007.
  12. Baltimore Sun: Maryland Agency approves $11.30 'living wage' next year; last accessed Sept 20, 2007.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Jamie Smith Hopkins. "Oriole Park cleaners vote to unionize", 'The Baltimore Sun', 2008-07-25, p. 2D.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Edward Gunts. "Going, Going, Gone", 'The Baltimore Sun', 2008-04-21, p. C1.
  15. Peter Schmuck. "First Word", 'The Baltimore Sun', 2008-07-17, p. 3Z.

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Memorial Stadium
Home of the
Baltimore Orioles

1992 – present
Succeeded by:
Current
Preceded by:
Jack Murphy Stadium
Host of the All-Star Game
1993
Succeeded by:
Three Rivers Stadium

Coordinates: 39°17′1.11″N, 76°37′18.49″W Template:Baltimore Orioles

Current ballparks in Major League Baseball
National League American League
AT&T Park | Busch Stadium | Chase Field | Citi Field | Citizens Bank Park | Coors Field | Dodger Stadium | Great American Ball Park | Marlins Park | Miller Park | Nationals Park | PETCO Park | PNC Park | Turner Field | Wrigley Field Angel Stadium of Anaheim | Comerica Park | Fenway Park | Kauffman Stadium | O.co Coliseum | Minute Maid Park | Oriole Park at Camden Yards | Progressive Field | Rangers Ballpark | Rogers Centre | Safeco Field | Target Field | Tropicana Field | U.S. Cellular Field | Yankee Stadium

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