Birdland Banter

There is something special about Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The ninth oldest stadium, which opened in 1992, is the fourth stadium to nest Baltimore’s longtime baseball team. Aesthetically, the park has a classic appeal to it. Although it’s much younger than Fenway Park, for example, it still boasts a similar vibe.

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Babe Ruth, outside of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. [Photo by C. Malone]
There is no better way to wrap up the dwindling 2018 baseball season with a post about visiting the final and fifth ballpark this year. Unfortunately for the Orioles, with their wings seemingly clipped, they’re not having the best year. They join Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox with 100-plus losses in contrast to Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, and my New York Yankees, whose wins break into triple digits.

The Orioles, that evening of Friday, Sept. 14, unfortunately, lost to the White Sox, but at least they came back and drew some blood before the bottom of the ninth inning expired.

Although the food wasn’t spectacular — there are several stands and beer stations that very much resemble each other (look and menus), and venturing through the concourse felt like Kubrick’s shining loop at times — there is a lot to enjoy.

It was a humid September evening. The rain that fell spritzed as a mist, which didn’t help with cooling down. The air was too sticky for a raincoat, but the extra layer still felt necessary. What’s a better way to take a mind off the indecisive weather than ballpark comfort food?

While Katey and I were looking for what turned out to be a nonexistent crab-topped fries dish (recommended by a Baltimore foodie blog), we were amused. We walked and sometimes double-timed it, like two lost individuals rushing around an airport for a plane that may have taken off. We asked other vendors, and they had no idea what we were talking about, despite showing them photos.

Hey, we’re not going to eat at your place, buuuut can you tell us where this can be found?

There is a play area for kids, those small humans who are bored with the flow of the game or frustrated with their team. There are numerous opportunities to get local brews, familiar and nationally-recognized names to more local offerings. There are markers in the bricks that signify home runs — who hit them, from what team, and date.

Statues of retired numbers sit in the front of the stadium, greeting patrons as they walk in. There’s also a statue of George Herman Ruth, Jr., The Great Bambino of baseball. He was born and raised in Baltimore (b. 1895 – d. 1948) before heading to Boston and then to New York.

So, thank you, Baltimore, for sharing your incredible player with us.

Plus, the people in Baltimore are super nice — possibly disgustingly nice. I definitely wanted to hug people after speaking with them. We were given a certificate for our first time at Camden Yards. People were smiling. Small talk almost felt like catching up with an old friend I haven’t seen in decades. We even chatted with three guys, and one of which had a connection to Cazenovia, NY.

I turned in my seat and asked, “Did you just say Cazenovia? As in central New York?” The conversation floodgates opened.

We eventually found a crab-topped French fry dish, which wasn’t all that spectacular. The crab-something-gravy glob plopped atop the fries looked more like vodka sauce or worse yet — well, you can use your imagination.

Crab stuff over fries. [Photo by K. Wilhelm]
It tasted better than it looks, but we should have stuck with hot dogs.

Needless to say, Camden Yards proved to be a great experience for a baseball game. It’s another city that takes pride in its team, regardless of having an unusual, major league bummer of a season. Can’t hate on that.

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