July 20, 2002
Orioles 4, White Sox 3 (14 inn.)
W: Rick Bauer
L: Bob Howry
Time of Game: 4 hours, 54 minutes
Location: Baltimore, MD
First Game: April 6, 1992
Three weeks after I moved to Virginia, I attended my first game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Until the Expos moved to DC and became the Nationals in 2005, this was the closest Major League ballpark to me, so I went to several games there each summer. Even now, I still make it up to Baltimore for a few games each year, usually when the White Sox are in town. It is definitely one of my favorite parks, which is one reason I keep going back. This game in 2002 was my first.
Camden Yards was a trend setter in a couple ways. First, the classic ballpark architecture has been copied by virtually every stadium built since 1992. The brick exterior, the mini-roof over part of the upper deck and the old warehouse across Eutaw Street in right field provide the charm of urban stadiums of yesteryear.
The other trend setting aspect of this park is how it was used to spark an urban revitalization of the downtown area. I don't have any first hand knowledge on this, but I have been told that the ballpark neighborhood was not exactly the popular hangout area it is now prior to the stadium being built. Along with the nearby Inner Harbour, Baltimore now has a great downtown social scene. It is still not exactly one of the nicest cities in the country, but has come a long ways thanks in part to Camden Yards.
My favorite part of the park is the Eutaw Street area between the right field seats and the warehouse. As far as I know, it is the only "street" inside the gates of a stadium. It is lined with concessions and gift shops, including some within the warehouse itself. The most popular concession in the park is located out there: Boog's Barbeque. Named after Oriole great Boog Powell, the former slugger himself is often there to cook for, and serve the patrons. Also in right field is a picnic area above the out of town scoreboard and right field wall. Curiously, you cannot really see the game from this area unless you are right up against the wall. One of the few flaws in this park.
I like the openness of the stadium too. The field itself is slightly below ground level, so those walking along the outside perimeter of the stadium in the outfield can easily peer into the park. There is a large picnic area in center field.
While the park does have a retro feel, they didn't forget to include the modern comforts and amenities. The concourses are wide and easily navigable, though you cannot see the game from them. Most of the lower level seats are very close to the field and even the upper deck isn't too far from the action. It is an extremely large park for a baseball-only facility, with a capacity near 50,000, so there are some bad seats in the outfield upper deck. They are reasonably priced though.
I was in the left field seats for this game, which is where I sit almost every time I go to a game at Camden Yards. Back at this time in 2002, good seats were hard to come by as the Orioles almost always had 30,000+ crowds. These days, I'm usually able to walk up to the park and buy tickets in the first couple rows of the outfield.
Gary Glover started the game for the White Sox while Sidney Ponson took the mound for the Orioles. The Orioles struck first with two runs in the third. The Sox picked up single runs in the 4th, 6th and 7th innings. The Sox took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 9th, but the Orioles scratched a run off Antonio Osuna to send the game into extra innings. The White Sox didn't get much of anything going in extra innings while the Orioles blew several scoring chances. Finally, former Sox catcher Brook Fordyce ended it with a hit down the right field line in the bottom of the 14th inning.
This game turned out to be the longest game of my tour, though not the longest game I've seen at Camden Yards. The following summer, I saw a 17 inning marathon against the Phillies. This game against the White Sox "only" lasted 14 innings and nearly five hours. It started an unfortunate trend of many blown saves I have seen by White Sox closers in this park. While I'm pretty sure the Sox have a winning record in games I've seen in Baltimore, they have lost several in heartbreaking fashion. This was an unusual game in that there were no home runs hit in this home run friendly park.
Camden Yards is definitely one of my favorite parks. The teams that decided to use this park as a model for their new ballparks did so wisely. The exterior photo below is from this game in 2002, but the other two photos are from a different White Sox/Orioles game a couple years later when I had much better seats and a better camera.
Next stadium: Jacobs Field, Cleveland