Last month, some buddies and I travelled down by car from Toronto to little ol’ Baltimore, MD to catch some baseball between the rival Blue Jays and Orioles. At the time, the Jays were just 3 games under .500 so this was a big series for them just before the All-Star break – they really needed a sweep to try and get back in the wild card race. Unfortunately, they lost two of three leaving us mostly disappointed. At least we saw one victory during Saturday’s game – only the second time I’ve ever seen Toronto win on the road.
The drive wasn’t real direct from having to zig and zag on various roads – about 8+ hours – plus all the pit-stops and wrong turns and such made it closer to 10 hours, so I recommend flying out of Buffalo as we were told by the many Toronto fans who travelled down via air plane.
When I think of Baltimore, I think of the 1993 All-Star Game and how Cito Gaston left Mike Mussina warming up in the bullpen without bringing him into the game – at Camden Yards no less! I loved how the Blue Jays seemed to have the upper hand for years whenever they played against the lowly O’s, but now it seems the tide has turned with these new Chris Davis led Orioles competing for the playoffs once again, much unlike our basement dwelling, ever-frustrating Blue Jays.
This weekend seemed to be the perfect weekend to attend games in Baltimore as it was essentially designated “free give-away weekend” for the O’s as each game had a free item given away to the first 20,000 fans. We each received an Orioles sun-hat on the Friday (which you can see on the head of a guy in the picture below), which was definitely a nice souvenir to remember our trip by. It’s not as if I was going to buy an O’s jersey or hat, like why waste my money, eh!
As you can see above, there was some blue mixed in with a sea of orange, which was great to see. Toronto fans also weren’t afraid to applaud our own team when a play called for cheering!
We often hear about how great Camden Yards is to watch a ball game, with its retro style and historic feel, and sure enough, it didn’t disappoint. It really is a ballpark to behold because, when you think about it, so many others were constructed using Camden as a model. I found out that Camden has had some influence on every one of the 21 ballparks built since it opened in 1992. When you think about that for a second, you realize just how good Orioles fans have it.
During the game, I had to try some ballpark fare and fresh crab cakes caught my attention. Now this little piece of seafood below was $15 – definitely a premium inside the stadium – but they’re nice enough to give you get some crackers and a lemon wedge to go with it!! Overall, it was good tasting and quite unique to have at a ball park, but certainly not worth the price I paid.
On the Saturday morning before the game, we took in a tour of Camden Yards which left us impressed with how they commemorate their history. Below are steel statues of retired Orioles numbers: Cal Ripken of course (#8), Brooks Robinson (#5), Frank Robinson (#20), and Jim Palmer (#22).
Above is one of many tiny plaques out on Eutaw Street which mark where home run balls have landed. It’s a pretty cool momento commemorating such feats.
The giant warehouse you see in the picture beyond right field has been totally renovated and tenants now include the Orioles front office and other businesses. I think it’s great how Baltimore has utilized this important piece of the landscape; it just makes it seem like you could be stuck in the 1930’s by looking at that thing.
Below are myself (left) and my friend Matt (right) who are enjoying a seat in the Orioles dugout.
For entertainment on a Saturday night, we knew we wanted a crab dinner since we’re right next to the ocean and might as well enjoy some fresh Maryland seafood. We ventured out walking from the beautiful Inner Harbor to the trendy and hip Fell’s Point neighbourhood and settled on Riptide by the Bay which had a 1.5 hour wait time to even get seated…but was well worth the wait!
We were served a bucket of freshly steamed crab, and as you can see, it was indeed fresh! We were even given a tutorial by the helpful staff on how to break ’em apart to extract the meat. You definitely need to take your time there as crab eating is definitely an experience!
Being a close walk from Camden, it’s a good idea to check out the actual Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum to glimpse some history and ‘Babe’ memorabilia.
I had a good history lesson here where I not only learned that George Herman Ruth got his nickname “Babe” because Orioles owner/manager Jack Dunn became his guardian, hence Ruth’s team-mates started called him Jack’s babe, but I also didn’t know that Ruth started playing professional baseball with the Baltimore Orioles! In 1914, that team played in the International league before he was sold to the Boston Red Sox where, of course, he would go on to create baseball lore.
This is the same year where Ruth, at 19 years of age, was in Boston’s minor league system and hit his first professional home run in “of all places” Toronto (as denoted below) at Hanlan’s Point.
Something else I didn’t know was that the Baltimore Orioles would eventually go on to become the New York Highlanders which would then become the current New York Yankees!! I was shocked to learn about that!
Of special note to anyone thinking of visiting Camden Yards, I do recommend it as it’s one of the premier ball parks in all of MLB. I do encourage you however to stay within the Inner Harbor area as anything one block outside of it gets sketch in no time – trust me, you don’t want to go there!