I almost didn’t go to this game. The forecast called for a 50% chance of rain. Nick Pelescak decided not to go. So, around 11 AM, Amy and I were sitting talking about what we were going to do for the day, she really wanted to go to Baltimore as she, like I, enjoy traveling. I looked at the hourly forecast one more time before leaving:
I figured if it did rain, I should at least be able to get a ball from an Athletics pitcher with my A’s jersey with a gold (pirates) sweatshirt underneath.
We arrived at the stadium at 3:55, and there were literally 20 people ahead of us.
Its a good thing that we got there when we did because 30 minutes later, the line snaked far off into the distance out of view.
Everyone was here to see the unveiling of the Frank Robinson statue in center field and get their replica statue giveaway.
The gate surprising opened a couple minutes early, so I made a mad dash around the stadium into left field. You may be able to see me in the picture below, I’m wearing an orange shirt:
I got on the board early as I caught a Robert Andino home run on the fly here:
I had to run a section and a half to make the catch, but it felt good to get on the board early, especially as I was worried about the stands crowding up quickly. Unfortunately, the ball wasn’t a commemorative.
Not long later, an Orioles lefty hit a home run near the bullpen that I ran over and caught barehanded as it bounced off of a seat. Commemorative!
During the Orioles last group, I ditched the left field bleachers because I felt I had a better chance of getting a ball from an Athletics pitcher or two or three.
There weren’t many people there, and I had A’s gear on, so I was hoping that they’d hook me up. Jerry Blevins did when he was done, tossing me a commemorative ball:
But he was the only pitcher to toss me one, so I returned to left field.
Coco Crisp was hitting some bombs, and one of his liners rolled to the warning track. I had told the folks in the front row that I’d give them the ball if they let me get it, so they let me glove trick. When I pulled it up I noticed it was a brand new white shiny Oriole Park commemorative. I asked the guy who moved to his left for me if he’d accept another ball, since I wanted the Orioles Park one, he said he didn’t care, he just wanted a ball, so I gave him one of my decoy ones that I brought from home.
It was only 5:33 and I had 4 balls, not bad for a half hour. But then, the groundscrew came out and put the tarp on, ending the A’s batting practice shortly after it had gotten started. It had been lightly sprinkling, but nothing that the A’s couldn’t have hit through. I was very disappointed. I decided to run over to the dugout to try to get a ball as the A’s made their way off the field, but was too late.
At the dugout, I noticed a player sitting in the corner signing autographs. It was Yoenis Cespedes. Yes, THE Yoenis Cespedes – the player who I came all the way from Pittsburgh to see take batting practice.
I joined the small group of autograph seekers huddled in the front row and passed Yoenis the shiny new commemorative that I had just glove tricked in left field moments earlier.
He signed the ball:
He seemed very quiet and humble – Baltimore ballhawk Avi Miller said that he’d been signing each day for every fan that asked.
The trip was not a waste at all, even though 60% of BP got rained out. Not only did I get four baseballs and a Cespedes autographed baseball, I also got four Frank Robinson statues:
Believe it or not, I sold all 4 statues within 12 hours on ebay for $57 each with shipping included. So, I made $200 on those 4 giveaways. I could’ve made so much more money. As it was raining, I walked around the seating bowl looking for baseballs and came across at least 12 abandoned Frank Robinson statues that I suppose I could’ve just picked up. I didn’t though. I was torn – did the people just forget them? They probably didn’t even care if they were just going to leave them there in the rain… Oh well.
It turned out to be a great trip for Amy, Olivia and I. After BP we went out to eat in Baltimore because we didn’t want to stay at the game if there were going to be off an on showers.
The Baltimore Orioles are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards this year. Its a big season for the Orioles as they attempt to fight their way out of the cellar while celebrating the stadium that started the ballpark revolution of the 1990’s.
I did some poking around some websites and found some great pictures of Camden Yards as it was being built.
I hope you enjoy.
Also, I’ll be in Baltimore on opening day, in hopes of snagging one of these commemorative baseballs that the Orioles will be using this year:
Camden Yards looks like this now:
But it once was a pile of dirt
and a vacant warehouse that would be transformed into one of the most beautiful ballparks in the US.
Incorporating the B&O Warehouse, which was built in 1899, was a fantastic idea. It brought us back to the old days of baseball, where stadiums were built to fit into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Here’s the outer side of the B&O Warehouse, facing away from the stadium. Just ahead, you see the building that now houses the Babe Ruth museum.
The Warehouse sat dormant for over 20 years, rotting… until 1992.
That’s when the Orioles completely renovated it to house offices, a team store, restaurants, a ticket office, etc. What a view.
Here’s the foundation of where the center field seats would later be built:
The unfinished exterior of Camden Yards… (is that a real kid in the picture?)
Construction began in 1989
And it took 33 months of work to get the stadium completed.
It was built by HOK Sport, and was the first of the retro ballparks.
There’s really not a bad seat in Oriole park. The field is beautiful, the layout is gorgeous, and the Warehouse looming beyond right field is awesome.
Anyone have any idea what part of the stadium this is? A possible hidden chamber underneath the field or seats?
It looks like the upper deck was the first structure put in place. The lower level still looks a mess in this picture:
The stadium by the way cost $110 million to build. By today’s standards, that’s about $180 million. In contrast with other stadiums that have been built, that’s pretty cheap.
Could this be a flag pole out in the famous right field ‘flag court?’
How excited were the people of Baltimore when this stadium was being built? Anyone have any personal stories that lived in Baltimore during this time?
The playing surface at Camden Yards is Kentucky Bluegrass.
Once the grass starts getting installed, you know that the end of construction must be close.
A worker takes a breather to look at the beauty that surrounds him:
A view from center field. The upper level looks just about finished.
Looking towards left field into center field.
A view down the left field line from the second deck:
The stadium looks almost complete except for the lower level seating bowl.
One of the final touches is constructing the giant scoreboard in center field.
Since the stadium opened in 1992, millions have people have enjoyed baseball there, including me. I’ve been there 9 times, making the four hour drive from Pittsburgh.
Maybe one day soon, the Orioles will get their organization turned around like the Rays did in 2008 to be an annual contender. In the meantime, at least they have a beautiful venue to play ball in.
There’s only 35 days until opening day, and 2 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). And, just 3 more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.
By the way, welcome to March. Opening Day will be here before we know it.
Also, thank you for reading! February 2012 was my second busiest month in the history of this blog. We logged 11,000 views in the month. I’ll keep turning out the entries daily as long as you keep reading. I’m looking forward to doing some ballhawking entries soon! Opening weekend is going to be very busy for me.
Amy and I decided to head down to Baltimore for a couple games to see the Cardinals take on the Orioles. We checked into the hotel, and Amy rested at the hotel while I left to go to batting practice.
The first ball I got was an absolute bomb that hit at the back of the seats near the bullpens and bounced back towards the field where I caught it.
Ball #2 was hit by another Orioles batter towards the foul pole. I simply jogged over and picked it up easy.
My third ball was cheap, but it was still #3. It was a ball that was misplayed by another ballhawk and bounced into the row in front of him where I snagged it with my glove.
Ball #4 was a clean catch here:
I barely had to move. I’m not sure who hit any of the balls, but the first Orioles group was really good. I mean really good. I had snagged four balls from one group alone, but two other ballhawks had snagged five and I think six. Impressive. And they were all batted balls too.
The Orioles final group sucked, so I didn’t get my fifth ball until the Cardinals came out to hit. It was tossed to me by pitcher Trever Miller, who I remember was the one pitcher who tossed up baseballs at PNC Park in recent series.
I moved over to center field when I saw a home run land in the gap in center field. I was able to glove trick it for ball #6, but not without some difficulty. It took four tries, but I was able to reel it in.
My seventh ball was a ground rule double that I caught next to a mom. I immediately handed the ball over which she gave to her child. She may have been able to make the play, but she was gloveless, so who knows.
My eighth ball was a clean catch of a Colby Rasmus HR with some competition from behind here:
No clue who hit it.
We made our way to the inner harbor,
and took a few photos. One of the bonuses of ballhawking outside of Pittsburgh is that its like a mini-vacation. I go to BP for an hour, and then I get to spend the rest of the time with the love of my life. Can’t beat that!
We headed towards Barnes and Noble:
And saw the Hard Rock Cafe:
I ordered a California Club sandwich.
It was bad. I felt like I was eating a salad sandwich with chicken, there was one thin fillet. Not impressed.
While we were out, the citizens of Baltimore were extra friendly. We kept getting warm smiles every where we turned, then it dawned on me.
It was because of our baby.
We walked around a little more before heading back to our hotel. Baltimore isn’t as bad as the Wire portrays. At least not the few blocks we saw.
Here are today’s baseballs (only 7 pictured because 1 was given away):
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 259 balls (107 hit, 54 thrown, 61 device, 28 found)
Games: 44 games
Average: 5.87 balls per game
Career: 1,381 balls
With the Pirates hitting the road for San Diego, I thought about flying along with them to snag my one thousandth baseball at a stadium I’d never visited before. I decided against it, since it’d be cheaper to do a couple day trips to Baltimore on Monday and Cleveland on Tuesday. And so, I hit the road for Baltimore.
I never fared well at Camden Yards. Prior to today my ballpark high was six balls in one game.