On a warm August night, the air was filled with the smell of barbecue, beer, and the excitement of a comeback. The Blue Jays had been holding strong the whole game, but in the bottom of the eighth, the Orioles scored twice, shooting ahead 5-3. Now in the Ninth, the Orioles had a chance to win.
Even though Baltimore is the birthplace of Babe Ruth, I hadn’t traveled to the city to see the Orioles. I went for a work conference in Towson, Maryland, and I really hadn’t been looking forward to the trip. I wouldn’t be there long enough to do much outside of the conference, only having one free evening and no rental car. I arrived at BWI, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and took public transportation to Towson. I knew this would be a long trip, the airport is on the south side of Baltimore in Linthicum, and Towson is to the north. But in my experience, public transportation is a good way to learn the lay of the land… and it’s cheap.
I chose the Light Rail, part of the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA). The Light Rail runs from the airport and ends all the way up in Hunt Valley, about 80 minutes later. It’s a clean, comfortable ride for a very affordable $1.70. The train passes through charming neighborhoods, less charming neighborhoods, and stretches of green suburbia. It was quite busy when I rode, making conversation with Baltimoreans easy. I learned a bit about Baltimore’s history, including the importance of jazz and the mysterious death of Edgar Allen Poe. I was also advised on the best places to eat the city’s well-known crab cakes.
It was on the Light Rail that I got my first glimpse of Camden Yards and decided to take the train back later for an Orioles game. Traveling between Towson and Camden Yards was an easy hour trip, and transportation runs late. But take note, the train will be packed with orange. Fans park at the suburban stops and take the light rail, which stops right at Oriole Park.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a beautiful ball park. Surrounded by the city skyline and neighboring the Raven’s football stadium, the park boasts lots of areas to see the game away from your seats. I had a cheap $9 seat in the upper stratosphere with a pleasant view, but I only spent about half the game up there. The south end of Eutaw Street runs along the east side of the park, offering a variety of restaurants, food vendors, and shops where you can buy your Oriole’s merchandise. One of my favorite areas was near the middle of the block where you can stand and have a Natty Boh overlooking center field, with a great view of the game.
Eutaw Street features a home run tracker, with a plaque where each home run has landed since the park opened in 1992. It’s fun to look for the home runs smashed out of the field by your favorite hitters. If you want to see a particular plaque, you can use this map to find it faster. And don’t miss Ken Griffey Jr’s plaque on the side of the warehouse, hit during a derby game.
Another great place in the park is the Bullpen Picnic Area, overlooking the outfield. It offers picnic tables where you can eat your hotdogs, Italian sausage, crab cakes, or famous Boog’s Barbecue, among green shrubbery and the bronze statues of the Orioles’ Hall of Famers. Walk up to the rail and see the players warming up in the bullpen, almost close enough to touch.
Did the Orioles win that August night? Absolutely! The crowd went crazy in the last inning, with everyone on the edge of their seats. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such energy at a game with such light attendance. If you find yourself in Baltimore for the evening during baseball season, take the Light Rail to Camden Yards. You won’t regret it.