It’s almost impossible to believe that Oriole Park at Camden Yards turns 30 this year.
While the ballpark now has three decades of history and might be getting long in the tooth, it remains an architectural marvel that has inspired almost every new baseball stadium since its ribbon cutting.
Dubbed “The Ballpark That Forever Changed Baseball,” the innovative design and downtown location of Oriole Park indeed paved the way for a new breed of copycat stadiums that have sprouted up across the nation over the last 30 years. There have been 22 new baseball stadiums constructed since Oriole Park, and almost every one of them has borrowed elements from the Baltimore ballpark
Prior to Oriole Park, stadiums were built for utility, often housing multiple sports teams and entertainment venues. More often than not, they were drab concrete buildings that served a purpose but lacked character or any personality of the city itself.
What has become Baltimore’s crown jewel, Camden Yards, was built to marry the old with the new and provide a unique experience with an undeniable local flavor. The idea was to create a modern stadium with an old-timey feel, smack dab in the middle of the city.
Its downtown location, asymmetrical dimensions, brick and steel construction, and iconic B&O Warehouse backdrop all add to the charm of what is now the 10th-oldest stadium in baseball.
As we celebrate Oriole Park at Camden Yards’ 30th birthday, let’s look at 15 fun facts that make this place so special.
1. The Start of It All
On May 8, 1988, Governor William Donald Schaefer announced to 50,402 fans at Memorial Stadium that the Orioles had signed a 15-year lease to play at a new ballpark. The Orioles were 1-23 on the season at the time.
2. B&O Warehouse
During the construction of Oriole Park, one of the biggest debates was whether or not to demolish the eight-story B&O Warehouse.
It was a fierce debate with the public and media, but ultimately the decision was (thankfully) made to keep it. Camden Yards just wouldn’t be the same without it.
3. Ball One
The first pitch ever thrown at Oriole Park was a ball. It was tossed at 3:20 p.m. by Rick Sutcliffe on April 6, 1992. Sutcliffe would go on to pitch a complete game 2-0 shutout.
4. What’s in a Name?
The name ‘Oriole Park at Camden Yards’ was announced the night before the team’s final home series at Memorial Park on Oct. 3, 1991.
5. Mass Hysteria
On Oct. 8, 1995, Pope John Paul ll celebrated Mass at the ballpark during his visit to Baltimore.
6. Ballpark Firsts
Cleveland Indians’ first baseman Paul Sorento owns a piece of Camden Yards history as the player with the first-ever hit at the park (April 6, 1992), and the first-ever home run (April 8).
7. Oriole Firsts
First baseman Glenn Davis is credited with the first Orioles hit at the park (April 6), while outfielder Mike Devereaux has the honor of the team’s first home run (April 8).
8. Ken Griffey Jr.
To this day, Ken Griffey Jr. remains the only player to hit the B&O Warehouse with a home run. He did it in the 1993 MLB Home Run Derby. The warehouse sits approximately 60 feet behind the right-field wall.
9. The Iron Man
Without a doubt, the most memorable day at Camden Yards was Sept. 6, 1995. That was the day Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak of 2,130.
Who could forget Ripken Jr.’s victory lap as he high-fived fans in an emotional trot around the field?
10. September 6 X2
One year to the day after Ripken Jr. broke Gehrig’s record, Orioles legend Eddie Murray would launch his historic 500th career home run into the right-field bleachers.
At the time, it made Murray just the third player in MLB history to have both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
11. First Playoff Game
The first post-season game at Oriole Park was played on Oct. 1, 1996. Baltimore beat Cleveland 10-4 in the American League Divisional Series.
The O’s would go on to win the series but would be defeated by the New York Yankees in the next round.
12. Hideo Nomo Tosses No-No
The first no-hitter at Camden Yards came at the hands of Boston Red Sox pitcher Hideo Nomo on April 4, 2011. Nomo struck out 11 in the game while walking three.
13. Dubious 110-Year Record
On Aug. 22, 2007, the Orioles were defeated 30-3 by the Texas Rangers. The 30 runs scored by Texas were the most runs scored by a baseball team in 110 years.
14. Don’t Call It a Comeback
The largest comeback in Orioles history came on June 30, 2009, at home, when they erased a 10-1 deficit to beat the Red Sox 11-10.
15. No Fans, No Problem
If you thought the pandemic was the first time baseball games were played without fans, you’d be wrong.
On April 29, 2015, the Orioles played a home game with no fans because of safety concerns after recent riots. The Orioles wound up beating the Chicago White Sox 8-2.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards certainly has many memories attached to its name, and more are soon to follow.