Oriole Park at Camden Yards has to be one of the most, if not the most, beautiful ballparks in all of Major League Baseball. I’m sure a lot of you agree with me on that point.
Dedicated in 1992, it was the first of the new wave of retro-style ballparks. The one built just prior to Camden Yards was New Comiskey Park (i.e., U.S. Cellular Field) for the Chicago White Sox. Compared to the beautiful confines of Oriole Park, it’s pretty bleak.
Now, pretty much every baseball stadium follows the model designed by the architecture firm Populous. For a little history on how the city ended up with the stadium, we have to go back to the dark year of 1984. It was the year after the Orioles won the World Series and the Baltimore Colts cut and run from the city, partly because city and state officials wouldn’t commit any funds to improve Memorial Stadium. Hoping to preemptively avoid a similar fate for the Orioles, government officials began planning for a new stadium to keep them in Baltimore.
Click on the image below for an amazing larger version. You can zoom in on it and see incredible details.
Source: Library of Congress
Interestingly, the original design was one that looked like the White Sox’s new ballpark, but thankfully, the team rejected it in favor of a new, retro-style design.
Construction began in 1989, a year after a horrible Orioles season and took approximately three years to complete. We posted some really cool old video clips of the area before the stadium was built, so make sure you check those out.
Now, to the stadium’s name … why is it named Oriole Park at Camden Yards? Thankfully, it’s one of the few stadium’s that aren’t named for some corporate sponsor, and hopefully it will stay that way. The team’s owner at the time, Eli Jacobs, was pushing to name the ballpark Oriole Park, an homage to stadiums from prior Baltimore Orioles baseball teams, dating back to the 1880s. Ultimately, there were five stadiums holding the name Oriole Park prior to the arrival of the Major League Baltimore Orioles in 1954.
The other name being advocated for was Camden Yards by Maryland’s Governor, William Donald Schaefer. Why Camden Yards? Well, there used to be a large rail yard on the site called Camden Yards, of which the B&O Warehouse used to be a part of. Thankfully that was saved and incorporated into the ballparks design.
The debate between the owner and governor was quite tense, and ultimately a compromise was arrived at to named the new $105 million baseball stadium Oriole Park at Camden Yards. According to an article in The Washington Post from October 4th, 1991, a number of alternative names were bandied about, including The Best, the Maryland Crabshell, Charm Park, and Babe Ruth Stadium (because he was from Baltimore).
So, there you have it. now you know the origin and backstory behind the name of Baltimore’s iconic Major League Baseball stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Go O’s!