Camden Yards Tour – June 30
If you read my previous post, you might remember that when I went to bed at 3 a.m. after my first Orioles game, the park was still full of people cleaning it. I woke up at 7:15 a.m. on June 30, looked out the window and saw the grounds crew hard at work. Talk about dedication! Now, it was the cleaning staff, not the grounds crew, that was working past 3 a.m., but the grounds crew was working on the field after the previous night’s game. Now, about eight hours later, they were back at work.
I decided to begin the last day of June with a Camden Yards guided tour. These tours cost $9 for adults, are 90 minutes in length (give or take) and run on the hour. I went down for the 11 a.m. tour, bought my ticket …
… and went through the Eutaw Street gates:
While we were waiting to get started, I noticed the home run markers all over Eutaw Street. Somehow, I’d missed them a day earlier. There are more than 50 total markers set into the concrete. The longest, of course, was the 1993 All-Star Game blast by Ken Griffey, Jr., that hit the warehouse on the fly:
As you can see below, these markers are spread out around Eutaw Street:
And you can find lots of names you recognize. The longest game home run in this area belongs to former Expo Henry Rodriguez, who blasted a 443-footer in 1997:
Soon, our tour began. Our guide, Floyd, was great. He was thoroughly knowledgeable, funny and interesting. He told us a lot about the planning and construction of the ballpark and even gave us facts about the surrounding area.
Below is the Bromo-Seltzer Tower. It’s a huge tower that has the largest clock face in the world — bigger than Big Ben, even. It’s close to Eutaw Street:
Our tour took us through the concourse, which was deserted except for the occasional Camden Yards staff:
Guess how many people work at the ballpark on game days? If you said 900 to 1,000, you’d be right.
Then, we went up the club level, where we went in the Brooks Robinson Suite:
Here are the tables and chairs just outside the suite:
We walked through the amazing suite level (this is Floyd, below) …
… and saw the opulence that is the suites. Behind these suites, there are a ton of lounges, such as the 2131 Lounge:
There are neat displays, including blown-up covers of every time an Oriole has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated:
And these guys — two of the O’s three World Series trophies. These aren’t replicas, either. They’re the real deal:
There are also Gold Glove, MVP and Cy Young awards:
Here’s the rich-person entrance to Camden Yards:
By the way, these suites run $90,000 to $400,000 a year. It makes me cringe to think about that the suites at Yankee Stadium cost.
Next, we went down a hallway into the pressbox area. One neat thing Floyd pointed out was all the cable running to and from the pressbox:
We looked in the control room, which is where everything relating to the game happens. The scoreboards, ribbon boards, music, in-game announcements and anything else you can think of is run from here:
(Sorry — I know the photos aren’t great. The tour was crowded and lots of time, things were backlit.)
Here’s the actual pressbox:
When we began the tour, there was a youth baseball clinic taking place on the field. As a result, we wouldn’t be able to go down to field level. The O’s website says the tour includes a visit to the dugout, which is what I wanted to see the most. After we walked down from the press box, I was lamenting that we couldn’t get to the field. But Nicole Sherry, the ballpark’s head groundskeeper, called to Floyd and said we could go down. We went out onto the field. This is me. On the field:
We didn’t go in the dugout, but I took an up-close shot of it with me in front:
Though Floyd was great, he didn’t seem too eager to go down to the field, so the 25-person group was pretty thankful for Nicole. She’s one of just two female head groundskeepers in all of baseball. (The other is in Detroit at Comerica Park.) What an amazing, yet pressure-filled, job. And obviously, as I’ve noticed, her group is dedicated and skilled. Nicole posed for shots with a bunch of people from our group, so I got one, too:
We left the field via the umpires tunnel, which is directly behind home plate. We walked up the tunnel to another tunnel, which runs around under the stands. From here, you can access both clubhouses and, of course, the umpires room. Floyd showed us the peep hole in the umpires room door; apparently, it’s the only peep hole in the entire ballpark!
The tour cut through another fancy club level area, featuring a wooden Orioles sign:
And then, we were back out onto Eutaw Street where we looked at the right field foul pole, which is the original pole from Memorial Stadium, built back in 1954:
What an amazing tour! I’ve said a lot here, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the tour if you’re visiting Baltimore. The guide provides so much neat information that you’ll learn a ton, regardless of how much baseball knowledge you have.
I spent the rest of the day on a giant walk around the harbor (blisters on my feet will attest to that) before heading back to Camden Yards around 5 p.m. for my second O’s game.