On Tuesday morning, I sat in the empty seats of Camden Yards while a television crew from Melbourne, Australia, interviewed me about the park that changed the way baseball stadiums were designed.
Sports Brand Media is working on a new television series called "Houses of Glory" that profiles great sporting arenas from all over the world. You can check out the promo here. It looks like a pretty cool series. I don't believe it has been sold yet to a network, but when it is, I'll let everyone know where it can be seen in the United States.
I was excited to find out Camden Yards will be highlighted in the series. It's only fitting that the prototype for over a half of a dozen baseball stadiums gets the recognition it deserves. While filming the series, the producers asked me what Oriole Park at Camden Yards means to not just Orioles fans, but the game of baseball.
I hope I did it justice. Here's a bit of what I told them:
Oriole Park saved Baltimore in a way. The city was still devastated by the loss of the Colts in 1984. In the years that followed, many were concerned Edward Bennett Williams was going to move the Orioles out of town as well. Williams owned the Redskins so the fear was the Birds would fly south to Washington, D.C. After starting the 1988 season 0-21, the Orioles returned to Memorial Stadium. At fan appreciation night, the announcement was made that Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the city of Baltimore signed the lease to build a new stadium downtown and keep the Orioles in Baltimore.
It's hard to imagine what this city would have become in wake of losing both our sports teams. We could speculate it would have taken a major economic hit. There's no question that Baltimore sports fans would've been devastated with the soul of the city lost.
Instead of losing the Orioles, Camden Yards was born, and its presence injected life into downtown Baltimore and the newly renovated Inner Harbor.
On April 6, 1992, Camden Yards opened for business. It's hard to believe opening day 2012 will be the 20-year anniversary. I know - it makes me feel old, too.
Camden Yards was the first of what are now known as the retro stadiums. Rather than emulate the symmetrical, steel-beamed, cookie-cutter stadium of the 1970s, Camden Yards featured arches and brick. It was an architectural masterpiece based on the baseball stadiums built in the early 1900s.
I told the camera crew that's why The Yard is so appealing to visitors. It sort of brings you back in time. Isn't that what baseball is all about? It's one of the few things left in American culture that we don't want to modernize. In such a fast-paced world there is some comfort in knowing when it comes to baseball, the old-fashioned way works.
After 20 years in existence, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is becoming a place where a generation of Orioles fans now hands down its love for the game to a new generation. In several more decades, the Yard will be just as Fenway and Wrigley are now - shrines of baseball religion where ghosts and memories of the past find eternal life in the histories played there.
Kudos to the foreign producers who are paying tribute to our beautiful and beloved stadium.