It’s the inspiration for every baseball stadium built after. Oriole Park at Camden Yards initiated an aesthetically pleasing trend of old-style ballparks accompanied with modern amenities. Even three decades later, and with slightly adjusted dimensions (i.e. the new left field wall), Oriole Park remains one of the sport’s crown jewels.
Here are some of the top moments that have taken place across the Orioles’ 30-year history at Camden Yards.
April 6, 1992: Opening Day
More than 44,500 were there, as were major TV networks and the President of the United States. While the star of the day was the stadium itself, Rick Sutcliffe was a close second.
Making his first appearance in an Oriole uniform, the 35-year-old tossed a five-hit shutout to defeat the Cleveland Indians. Oriole Park played host to 67 sellouts in ‘92. Not that there was any additional reason to draw more fans, but the Orioles played above expectations too, finishing with 89 wins and a third-place finish in the AL East.
1993 Home Run Derby: Griffey Hits Warehouse
The distinguishing feature of Camden Yards is the B&O Warehouse, an abandoned facility initially planned to be torn down before designers brilliantly chose to build around it. Standing some 439 feet away from home plate at its closest point, it presents an inviting target for left-handed power hitters.
Several have come close to hitting one there on the fly, and those home run landing spots are marked on the right-field concourse. But only Ken Griffey Jr. has his name commemorated on the warehouse. The Mariners’ superstar outfielder fulfilled the fans’ wishes with a 463-foot direct shot. Griffey was crowned derby champ three times, but not here. Juan Gonzalez won this derby, but Junior won the day.
1993 All-Star Game: Johnson Throws Behind Kruk
There was a reason why left-handed hitters conveniently developed injuries or illnesses whenever Randy Johnson took the mound. Any nerves John Kruk had when he faced the intimidating 6-foot-10-inch southpaw were heightened when Johnson’s first pitch whistled 90-plus miles per hour over Kruk’s head.
Players on both sides were greatly amused, while Kruk had a smile of disbelief. Then, after surrendering to Johnson on the three pitches, there was simply relief.
“Before I stepped into the box, I said ‘all I want to do is make contact,’ Kruk said postgame. “And then all I wanted to do was live. And I lived, so I had a good at-bat.”
September 6, 1995: 2,131
If this were a ranking, there would be no other choice for No. 1.
Not just the greatest moment in Oriole Park history, but one of the greatest to ever take place in any baseball stadium. And in the wake of the players’ strike that prematurely ended the 1994 season, this was a sorely-needed occasion.
Cal Ripken Jr. gave new meaning to “everyday player,” surpassing Lou Gehrig’s seemingly uncatchable consecutive games record and establishing a more unattainable mark. When the game became official, the warehouse – which had been displaying the up-to-date number for months – commemorated the achievement.
The game stopped, and what ensued from the fans was a 22-minute (!!) appreciation – highlighted by Cal’s famous lap around Oriole Park. His fourth-inning home run made it that much better.
September 6, 1996: Eddie Murray’s 500th HR
There are five statues beyond the bullpens in left-center field representing the Orioles Hall of Famers. Among them is one of the best switch-hitters ever. When he connected on his milestone homer against the Detroit Tigers one year to the day of his longtime teammate’s historic occasion, he joined a group even more exclusive than the 500 home run club.
He became one of just three in major league history to have both 500 homers and 3,000 hits (the ladder achieved a year ago with Cleveland). Murray was traded back to Baltimore on July 21, 1996, just in time for him to make history on the team he represents in Cooperstown.
September 20, 1998: Cal’s Streak Ends
The answer to the trivia question is Ryan Minor. The question: who started in Cal Ripken’s spot at third base when he ended his consecutive game streak?
There was no fanfare, no festivities, no press releases, no prior notice. He voluntarily took himself out of the lineup for the last home game of the season to end it at 2,632.
For the first time since May 30, 1982, the Orioles jogged onto the field without Ripken. Once it became known throughout the stadium, he was honored not just from the fans but also from the opposing Yankees in the dugout. Ripken didn’t take another lap around the park. After more than 16 years, he deserved the rest.
August 22, 2007: 30-3?!
Thirty years of a ballpark is impressive. But 30 runs? In one game? By one team?
The Texas Rangers set a modern-era record for most runs scored in a single game and the most one-sided victory with their 27-run margin. All 10 Texas Rangers players that came to bat had at least one hit and scored at least once. It was only the ninth time a team had 30. What made it so extraordinary is that it hadn’t happened since ‘97…that’s 1897.
By the way, this was the first game of a doubleheader. The Rangers bats went cold in a 9-7 win.
September 28, 2011: O’s Play Spoiler
“The Curse of the Andino” has a nice ring to it, though the Red Sox won it all two years later. Baltimore’s ninth-inning comeback against Jonathan Papelbon ensured Boston’s epic collapse out of a playoff spot and added to the craziest regular-season finale ever.
Nolan Reimold kept the O’s alive and tied it with a two-out ground-rule double, Then, Robert Andino’s liner fell just in front of Carl Crawford which allowed Reimold to score the game-winner. It was less a curse for the Red sox and more a springboard for the Orioles, who would reach the playoffs in 2012 to end a string of 14-straight losing seasons.
May 8, 2012: Josh Hamilton’s Four Homers
In a life filled with tremendous highs and remarkable lows, Josh Hamilton’s historic power display is certainly among the peaks. He went deep in the first, third, seventh, and eighth innings – becoming the 16th player to knock four over the fences in a single game. The first-overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft added a double to complete a 5-for-5 night. His 18 total bases set an American League record.
2014 ALDS Game 2: Delmon Young’s Bases-Clearing Double
Overcoming three Cy Young winners to sweep the Tigers, the Orioles won a postseason series for the first time in 17 years. No win was more dramatic – both in the ALDS and in the last 30 years – than the Game 2 victory.
Delmon Young’s swing on the first pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded and Baltimore down 6-4 sent the place into hysteria. It went to the left-field wall to easily score Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce. And when J.J. Hardy made it to the plate safely with a perfect slide to avoid a tag on the throw home, Camden Yards has never been louder.