The other day, I drove down to Baltimore to see the Yankees play the Orioles. I have been at (Oriole Park at) Camden yards a few years ago, but this time I also took a tour of the ballpark. A tour of the ballpark costs only $9 and tickets can be purchased ahead of time or at the box office. If you ever go down to Baltimore, are a baseball fan and have two hours of time, I suggest this tour. As every tour, the right tour guide can mean everything. I had a great tour guide, Harry, who really seemed to know his Camden Yards history. Here are ten facts about the park that I learned, that I thought was interesting or amusing and wanted to share.
Author’s note – All of the information I write about was discussed on the tour. I have used the internet only to fill in a gap in my memory and not to fact check. I would like to believe that Harry was correct in all of his information.
1. The Warehouse was built by the B&O Railroad (the same railroad as your Monopoly game) as a transfer station for their railroad. The Warehouse is 1,116 feet long and when constructed was the longest building east of the Mississippi.
2. The Warehouse was abandoned around the 1950s and was originally to be torn down as part of the stadium construction. The business owners at the Baltimore Inner Harbor (4 blocks away) wanted the stadium view to be of the Harbor, as a way to remind people to go there to spend money.
3. An architect (a 32 year old woman, I cannot remember her name) insisted that an old style “ballpark” be designed and built. An old style park, but a modern facility. She also insisted that The Warehouse be part of the facility as well at Eutaw Street.
4. The Warehouse is 432 feet from home plate at its shortest point. Although prevailing winds blow out to right field, the wind actually blows across Eutaw Street and knocks down balls hit toward The Warehouse.
5. Harry asked, “How many balls hit during a regular season game have hit the Warehouse?” People yelled one. I said zero. I, of course, was correct. The only ball to ever hit The Warehouse was hot by Ken Griffey, Jr. during the 1993 Home Run Derby. His ball was 465 feet. There are baseball style plaques for the ball that Griffey, Jr. hit and for every baseball hit onto Eutaw Street. The longest ball hot during a game toward The Warehouse was hit by Henry Rodriguez (430 feet to right center). To date, there have been 43 balls hit onto Eutaw Street and 42 plaques. Luke Scott hit one this past Tuesday night, so a plaque has not been placed yet. Rafael Palmiero has hit 5, the most. Luke Scott and Jason Giambi each have 4. As a note, Griffey’s plaque has an asterisk because it was not hit during a game.
6. When home runs travel to right field, have you seen that areas over the right field wall where people are always standing? That area is standing room only tickets and also an area where people congregate because it is an area where many home runs balls travel to. Next time you see that area, look carefully. There are many flagpoles in that area. When a ball travels toward the poles, people start chasing the balls and do not look where they are going, they are following the ball. Until four years ago, they didn’t have pads on the poles. Too many people ran into the poles chasing balls. That is not a cool fact, I just like to think that the Director of Stadium Operations had to have a discussion with someone regarding the need for pole pads.
7. The warning track is a porous rubber and not clay. Harry poured water onto the track and it disappeared, pretty cool. The grass is Kentucky Blue Grass and the field was designed to be able to drain 15 inches of water per hour. The designers guaranteed the Orioles that the grass will be game ready within 30 minutes from the last drop of rain. To date, the drainage system has never failed the Orioles.
8. There is nothing cool about the Orioles dugout. I have seen better minor league dugouts.
9. All of the seats in the stadium are green, except for two. One orange seat, in left center commemorates where Cal Ripken Jr.’s 278th home run as a shortstop landed. This, at the time, set the record for home runs by a shortstop (previously held by Ernie Banks). The other orange seat is in right center and commemorates Eddie Murray’s 500th career home run. The guy who caught Eddie Murray’s ball sold it for $500,000.
10. The original name of the ballpark (do not call it a stadium) is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. That name lasted four days until sportswriters decided the name was too long. Now, it is simply known as Camden Yards.
The tour lasted two hours and was really enjoyable. I suggest it to any baseball fan that is in Baltimore. I also suggest taking the first tour of the day. The later tours will not be able to go to all areas of the park during game days. The earlier tours have greater access. Or, if you can plan it, go on a non-game day as I did.
Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Ken Griffey Jr