Camden Yards. The mecca of the retro ballpark. This was my 12th stop on the quest for all 30 stadiums and I have to say it did not disappoint.
When I visit new stadiums, there are several factors I try to take into account: the design, the food, the crowd, and the neighborhood. It would be nearly impossible to rank anything based on one of these alone so let’s break it down.
Fairly unique. The warehouse in right field is obviously what most people would recognize immediately. The bowels of Camden are very reminiscent to the fields of yesteryear as there is no visible sightline of the field from the inside. The brick work also made me feel like I was at an actual baseball field. In other words, it was modern without being too polished (looking at you Yankee Stadium). I also noticed it felt very clean. Who would have thought something in Baltimore would give me that vibe! Seating was pretty good as well. I took a few laps of the stadium and it didn’t really seem like there was a bad seat in the house, so kudos to the design team.
Two words: Old. Bay. They put this shit on everything, huh? Somehow in my near 30 years of existence Old Bay seasoning has alluded me until now. Let me tell you though, it is DELICIOUS. I totally get it. I would put it on my ice cream if it didn’t make me look like a psycho. It really may be the perfect spice. I doused an italian sausage in it as well as my french fries and I’m not sure if I can ever go back. It’s that good. Seasoning aside though, there wasn’t much at this ballpark that you couldn’t find anywhere else. I saw thick strips of bacon on a strip, but alas, my curiosity gravitated towards Old Bay related eats.
Bonus Points – Their own Dippin Dots flavor!
Tough to judge as the Orioles aren’t exactly good this year, but I was kind of expecting more out of a day game on the weekend. It was mostly a family crowd which I kind of understand on a Sunday, but still, I was hoping to see at least one drunk fan escorted out by security. Hands down the funniest thing I saw from the crowd was after the Orioles hit a home run one of the rogue Astros fans in attendance ripped the ball away from a kid trying to snag it in the seats and he threw it back onto the field. The onslaught of boos followed by the man’s gracious bow to his audience absolutely killed me. Kind of a dick move, but still hilarious.
Camden is located right downtown near the inner harbor of Baltimore. I tend to prefer ballparks that are right in the action as opposed to say something like Dodger Stadium or Citi Field that are just so far removed from the downtown areas that even the best of tailgates don’t really help. There are a few bars around that seem like a good time, although I’m not exactly sure how rowdy they get when your team sits in 4th place in your division. Could be better, could be worse.
Overall, I’d probably put this stadium somewhere in my top 5. It was unique enough without being too over the top. I’m actually pretty surprised it took me this long to get there even though it’s only a four hour jaunt from the NY area where I grew up. Glad I got a chance to visit and can’t wait for stop 13 in Washington DC later this summer.