Oriole Park at Camden Yards is one of the fabled parks we both looked forward to visiting. When speaking to various people about our trip during spring training, many said this was one of their favorite parks, if not the favorite.
The Orioles took an old train station and transformed the area in 1992 into a baseball stadium that became the model for nearly every new MLB stadium that has followed.
We had hoped to take the MARC train to Baltimore from College Park, Md., but that would only have worked for a day game. The train going back did not run past 7 p.m., because it is a commuter train. We were able to park for $14 in a garage not far from the park. I was on a work call, so it didn’t feel to me like traffic was too terrible, but I think Ron’s opinion might differ.
General parking on day of game basis is available at Oriole Park in Lots F, G, and H for $8.
Subject to availability, limited parking may also be offered in Lot B and C on a first-come, first-served basis. Off-site, over 30,000 spaces are located in secure garages and open lots throughout the downtown/Inner Harbor area within a short walk of Oriole Park.
Getting into downtown Baltimore was fairly easy, but then the ballpark and Tuesday rush-hour traffic really took hold. The garage we reserved had its main entrance closed for commuters using it as an exit. That meant circling around a couple of blocks because of one-way streets before we were finally able to find the correct entrance to use. The city’s garages don’t open for stadium parking until after 5 p.m. on weeknights, and some even make fans wait until 6.
Once we parked, we walked around downtown and ate dinner — crab cakes, of course — and then headed to the ballpark.
The Orioles’ Ed Smith Stadium was my favorite spring training park. So far in regular season, it is a toss up between Camden Yards and SunTrust Park. I said the Braves stadium “felt like baseball”, as soon as I walked in; but baseball is also in the spotlight at Camden Yards.
While attendance was light due to the cold temperatures and a 7 p.m. start on a Tuesday, I could still feel the excitement as we walked up to the former train station location and entered on Eutaw Street. The flags representing the American League standings were waving in the wind. We had great seats behind home plate and under cover in the 20s. The only issue was that you cannot see the scoreboard above row 8 in that section. We were in row 10, but moved down because there were open seats. One can walk all the way around the field and get some great views. There is a mini-Green Monster — in front of which a sod farm grows. There is even some ivy, reminiscent of Wrigley Field.
Orioles fans are definitely a vocal group, especially the quartet of young men who were sitting next to us. If they weren’t booing Chris Davis for each at-bat during an 0-for-3 night, they were shouting at the umpires for perceived bad calls.
Remember that scene in “Deuce Bigalow” when Rob Schneider’s title character takes Amy Poehler’s character with Tourette Syndrome to a baseball game so she feels like she fits in, well, heckling is part of baseball and those guys next added that to our experience. They were never abusive with their words, just passionate about their team.
Because we ate crab cakes at Maisy’s prior to the game, we did not eat much at the stadium. The item we definitely would have tried was the highly recommended Chesapeake fries — waffle fries topped with crab dip and sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning.
We would have also loved to have gone to Dempsey’s, the on-site restaurant located in the old train station that houses the team offices and merchandise store.
Boog’s Barbeque is another item we’ll have to try on our next visit. Ron was told by a friend we definitely missed out on some great food.
Vegeterian options were also part of the team’s new 2018 menu.
The ticket prices are very affordable, as is just about everything in the stadium. The Orioles also have a kids menu, where you can get Junior a $1.50 hot dog and a cheap drink. The $8 parking in the stadium lots is very cheap and even $14-$20 parking in the garages isn’t bad for a downtown stadium, especially when compared to other cities.
Do yourself a favor and walk around Camden Yards on your first visit there. It was our first time there and we left our seats on the lower level and headed to the upper decks to get another perspective.
On our way down the center-field steps, we got a great bird’s-eye view of the team’s statue garden. We made our way down and snapped some photos of the figures of former manager Earl Weaver and Orioles greats Cal Ripken, Jr., Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer.
As mentioned above, the Orioles converted the former Camden train station into their team offices. The elongated building, one of the longest in the world, is also home to the team store and Dempsey’s Brew Pub & Restaurant.
Just a few blocks away is also the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum. There is a lot of baseball to see in Baltimore and not all of it is on the field at Oriole Park.
As we said with our review of Tampa and St. Petersburg, this rating is probably lower than it should be because we didn’t really get to experience Baltimore as we would have liked. What we saw piqued our interests.
It’s a very walkable downtown and there is a lot to see and several places to find some good ol’ lump crab cake. The harbor makes for a cool stroll and a tour of the U.S.S. Constellation will be included in our next visit to the city.
If you’d like to take your own water cruise across the inner harbor, just rent one of the many dragon paddle boats and be on your way.
We were there just a few days shy of the annual Light City festival, which is a free downtown celebration of light, music and innovation.
The Baltimore Soundstage was bumping postgame and we could feel the bass through the wall while walking on the sidewalk back to the parking garage. The venue had a steady list of performers on the calendar, ensuring live music on just about every night of the week.