As we move closer to the start of the 20th season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I take a look back at the top 20 moments in the history of the ballpark. Selected moments had to relate directly to the action on the field at the time. No orchestrated events such as World Series anniversary celebrations or Orioles Hall of Fame inductions were eligible.
20. Wieters’ debut
19. Nomo tosses only no-hitter in Oriole Park history
18. Orioles rally from nine-run deficit against Boston
16. Showalter takes the helm
15. Palmeiro homers in Oriole debut
14. Griffey’s Warehouse shot
13. Sparring with Seattle
12. Davis defies the odds
11. Hoiles’ slam stuns Mariners
10. Game 6 of 1997 ALCS
9. 1993 All-Star Game
8. Moose misses perfection
7. Eddie comes home
6. Bonilla’s slam in first playoff win
5. A beautiful place for a ballgame – April 6, 1992
It was both unusual and perfectly natural.
The Orioles had never played a home opener away from 33rd Street, but, still, it felt very much like home at 333 West Camden Street with the historic B&O Warehouse, the Bromo Seltzer tower, and the city skyline providing a beautiful backdrop.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened 19 years ago as the new “old” ballpark that would become the standard by which new parks are judged. The dignitaries came, including President George H. W. Bush who threw out the honorary first pitch — in the dirt — to catcher Chris Hoiles.
Then, after years of waiting for a new ballpark, the Orioles took the field at their downtown home as newly-signed veteran Rick Sutcliffe took the mound to deliver the first pitch in Camden Yards history. After making just 24 starts in his final two seasons with the Cubs, Sutcliffe was brilliant in his first game in Baltimore, stifling the Cleveland Indians in an old-fashioned contest that lasted just over two hours.
Sutcliffe delivered a five-hit shutout, striking out six and walking one in a 2-0 victory for the Orioles.
Baltimore received all the runs it needed in the fifth when Hoiles’ automatic double over the left-center wall plated Sam Horn with the first run in Camden Yards history and Billy Ripken’s suicide squeeze drove in Leo Gomez with the second and final run of the afternoon.
With 44,568 rising to their feet with two outs in the ninth — as they had hundreds of times at Memorial Stadium — Sutcliffe fanned Indians first baseman Paul Sorrento looking on an away fastball. The first game and the first win was in the books at the new home of the Baltimore Orioles.
The opening win set the tone for a surprising season after the 1991 club had lost 95 games in its final season on 33rd Street. The Orioles went an impressive 89-73, finishing seven games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and in third place.
All these years later, it still feels like it was only yesterday when Cal Ripken and the Orioles took the diamond at the Yard for the first time. It was both new and familiar. But most importantly, it was perfect.
Camden Yards firsts on Opening Day
First pitch – Rick Sutcliffe delivers a high fastball for a ball at 3:20 on April 6, 1992
First batter – Kenny Lofton flies out to right fielder Joe Orsulak
First hit – Paul Sorrento singles to left-center in the top of the second
First strikeout – Sutcliffe fans Mark Whiten in the top of the second
First Orioles hit – Glenn Davis singles up the middle in the bottom of the second
First run and first extra-base hit – Sam Horn scores on a Chris Hoiles automatic double in the bottom of the fifth
First win – Sutcliffe strikes out Sorrento to earn the 2-0 shutout