Wow it’s hard to believe that the last opening at Memorial Stadium was twenty years ago. Where has the time gone? While the old girl lived to host the Baltimore Stallions of the CFL for two year (1994/1995), and then the Ravens for another two years (1996/1997); she quietly vanished into the abyss. There was no real closure to the actual building. Unlike the implosions that officially ended the life of the King Dome in Seattle and other stadiums; Old Memorial Stadium was quietly taken apart piece by piece, brick, by brick.
I attended the “unofficial” opening game at Oriole Park was an exhibition game on Friday, April 3rd against Eddie Murray and the New York Mets. But on Monday, April 6, 1992 Oriole Park at Camden Yards officially opened its doors for baseball. Rick Sutcliff was the O’s starter. The Birds beat Cleveland 2-0. I was fortunate to attend the very first night game at Camden Yards on Wednesday, April 8, 1992. It was at that game that Cleveland’s Sorrento hit the very first homerun ever at Oriole Park. It was a 1st inning shot off of Milacki. (Baseball-almanac.com/2000-2010).
After nineteen seasons, the Orioles have gone 1415-1593 (.470) since moving to Camden Yards. They have enjoyed five winning season, and two trips to the post season. In 1996 they lost to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series 4-1, and lost in six games to Cleveland in 1997. Unfortunately the Orioles have lost more than they have won at Oriole Park having 14 losing seasons. They have currently gone thirteen straight years with a sub .500 record.
The park has had its share of momentous events since its opening in 1992. In July 1993 Oriole Park hosted the Major League All Star Game. On September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak. And of course the O’s lost to the Yankees, and Indians in the 1996 and 1997 American League Championship Series, both ending at Oriole Park.
It’s hard to believe that the crown jewel of 33rd street has been gone for nearly 20 years. Oriole Park began a trend of new downtown ball parks that mixed the modern world of technology with the traditional feel and look of an old ball park. I don’t know if it’s the downtown lurking behind the left field bleachers, or the warehouse towering over the center field wall, but Oriole Park is one special place. And although I have not seen a baseball game there in nearly 18 years, I do remember what a special place it is to watch a baseball game. But still I can’t believe that we’re entering the 20th season. Where has the time gone?