Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Stadium #9: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD

We planned our D.C. trip on a weekend when the Orioles would be at home so we could kill two birds with one stone. We spent 12 hours in Charm City and had a pretty flawless time!  Eating crab in every possible form didn't hurt. Check it out after the jump!

We decided that the easiest and cheapest way to get from D.C. to Baltimore was via Amtrak so I booked train tickets a month ahead of time. Then Baltimore erupted in riots after the Freddie Gray murder. The Orioles canceled a game and even played a game that was closed to the public. Then an Amtrak derailed and people died. So there were definitely some weird omens heading into the weekend. But thankfully everything went perfectly and it was a beautiful Memorial Day. 

We woke up on Monday pretty early to catch our train for some Memorial Day baseball. I instantly regretted everything I drank the day before. Hangover aside we hopped in an Uber and headed to Union Station. Our train was on time and the 45 minute trip felt like nothing. We were in Baltimore by breakfast and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. A great day for O's baseball.

I visited Bmore on field trips growing up and with my family I'm sure but not since being an adult. Since we were only going for the day I made sure to find a good area for us to explore. Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc all led me to Fell's Point with its cute cafes, bars, and cobblestone streets. We took an Uber there and explored for a bit. After some issues getting a table at a couple places we finally sat down at Kooper's Tavern for some brunch. Even though it was 10AM I saw Maryland crab soup on the menu and had to have it. Spoiler alert: everything I ate in Bmore had crab on or in it somewhere. As it should be.
cobblestone streets!


One of our first stops was to sit and look out at the harbor


As one of our goals on these trips is to find and drink as much local craft beer that we can. I found during my research that the preeminent craft beer bar in Bmore was in Fell's Point. So after finishing breakfast we headed to Max's Taphouse to sample some beers before the game. Since it was 11AM we were the only people in the place. We asked the bartender for some recs and tried Brewer's Art and Heavy Seas. Brewer's Art was my favorite. While on my second beer I was listening to the bartender talk with his manager in their Mid-Atlantic accents and I was enjoying the non-humid heat of the day and I...completely broke down and burst into tears. At 11:30 AM in a bar in Baltimore. I LOVE Texas but I'll always miss living on the east coast; the accents, crab smell, and perfect summer day all got my nostalgia emotions going. I'm not proud. Cam was really sweet about it when he would've been well within reason to just tell me I looked crazy and to pull it together.

I loved this sign behind the bar

Because Baltimore is on the water they have a pretty good water taxi service.  It's $8 one way and $14 for all day.  Probably cheaper than Uber/taxiing all over so we decided that was the best and most direct way to get from Fell's Point to the Inner Harbor.  After our morning beers we headed to catch the water taxi and make our afternoon game at Camden Yards.  The taxi was so fun and great! I don't even care if it was a little more than an Uber--it was great feeling that breeze on our faces and zipping through the Harbor to the game.  Highly recommend if you're exploring Bmore and it's a nice day!

Cam was so annoyed that I wanted to have our picture taken while we were waiting

STORY TIME: A few years ago we were hanging out on our buddy's roof in Austin and taking silly pictures.  K had a jacket but we were in the sun so she took it off and had it slung over her shoulder.  I took a pic right as her hair was blowing in the wind and we all freaked out because she looks like a legit model.  We are not making fun or being sarcastic--it's a great pic!  K HATES IT.  And so of course we bring it up whenever possible.  On the water taxi my hair was blowing around like crazy so I took this as an homage to her :) 

The U.S.S. Constellation in the Inner Harbor--built in 1797!

The water taxi dropped us off just a few blocks from Camden Yards so it was perfect.  We headed over to Eutaw Street to find a good photo op for our outside-the-stadium pic.  There was a pretty big crowd and a good energy.

There were a ton of people everywhere so this is the only good shot we got of the retired numbers.  It's pretty interesting to see how differently teams celebrate their favorite sons.  A bunch of statue numbers isn't very creative if you ask me but I get the sentiment.  For famous players a number does say a lot but I just think they could've done more.  

The first person we asked to take our pic took it completely zoomed in on our faces.  For this one we wanted more of the stadium sign behind us but beggars can't be choosers.  People of Baltimre: learn how to use a pretty standard DSLR that I handed to you with everything on auto, please.  

Something I really really liked at this stadium was the homerun balls.  Eutaw Street runs behind the stadium in the outfield.  The building on the left is an old B & O warehouse that now has team offices.  I read that no one has ever broken a window in the warehouse with a homerun.  Someone hit one TO a window but it happened to be open!  Homerun balls that leave the park hit somewhere on Eutaw Street and the O's commemorate every single one with a little plaque on the ground where it hit.  I wonder if there's a stadium employee who paints a mark as soon as a ball hits the pavement?  Either way, I loved it.  What a fun way to commemorate going yard. 

After snapping a few pics we hit the team store to get our passport stamps and a baseball.  I don't think I've mentioned in this blog but Cameron buys a logo baseball at every stadium.  It's an easy souvenir.  Passports stamped and baseball purchased meant that it was finally time for the main event.  Not the baseball game, either. I was looking for Chesapeake Fries: waffle fries with crab dip.  I read months ago that this was a food item offered at the park and I could not stop thinking about it.  My favorite snack in the entire world is Herr's Old Bay Potato Chips.  Herr's is a chip brand based in PA and while some of their varieties have made their way to Texas Old Bay probably never will--that's definitely an east coast flavor.  So I love Old Bay on anything.  And while Old Bay Potato Chips are my favorite snack my favorite food is crab meat.  Can't get enough.  As an added bonus the Chesapeake fries were at a Flying Dog stand and it was on the way to our seats.  Flying Dog is a Maryland craft brewery so I could kill two birds with one stone!  Maryland also has a beer called National Bohemian aka Natty Boh.  For the Texans out there it's like Lonestar.  When in Baltimore--get a Natty Boh.  

While I was in the crab fries line Cam headed to the Natty Boh bar.  Now, a constant thing I yell at Cam about is his lack of smiling in pictures.  There are more pictures than I can count where Cam looks like I'm someone he just met and doesn't particularly like.  Rude.  He grabs a couple Natty Bohs and meets me in the crab fries line and shows me these pictures of him CRACKING UP LAUGHING IN A BUNCH OF PICTURES THAT A COMPLETE STRANGER TOOK.  He was taking pics of the big Natty Boh mascot cut out and a guy asked if he wanted his pic taken with it.  Uncharacteristically Cam said yes and then said the guy was jokingly acting like a professional, trying to get Cam to smile, good angles, etc.  I love the pics but hate that he will never smile like that with me in the picture with him!  Once I got my fries and started eating them I wanted seven more orders but restrained myself.  But they were easily the best thing I've had in a stadium to date.  We don't have anything close in Houston.  The pulled pork an pierogi on a pretzel bun in Pittsburgh is a close second (and still Cam's #1) but the crab fries take the cake. 

concourse views

NOT the same as Whataburger.  





People keep asking me how much the fries were--$7.50, totally affordable!

I like stadiums that celebrate their triumphs with old photos like these

the happiest girl in all of Baltimore

Easily the best thing I've ever eaten in a stadium.  
the best, Jerry!
Finally it was time to head to our seats with our craft beer and Natty Boh and get this game started!  Our seats were really great!
Cam likes to get a pic behind home plate at every stadium but unfortunately they were #rude at Nationals Park and wouldn't let him snap a pic.  There was no way for him to get past an usher just to take a photo.  It was kind of bullshit.  But the ushers in Baltimore were not only cool with it but when an usher notice what Cam was doing he actually held people off for a second so Cam could get an unobstructed shot!  Thanks, Camden Yards usher!

Perfect day for baseball!

We loved this stadium.  Camden Yards is an important stadium in MLB because it's the one that ushered in the new era of ballparks.  To put it in perspective U.S. Cellular Field was built just before Camden Yards and it's nothing like this one.  The Ballpark at Arlington, PNC Park, Coors Field, and a few others that were renovated or rebuilt after 1994 took their cue from Camden Yards.  It's open yet intimate.  It's well constructed.  There are no bad views.  It's just a gorgeous stadium.  

The game itself was pretty solid with some great offense from the O's.  There were three homeruns and yet another hometown win!  The O's beat the Astros 4-3 which puts us at 7-2 for seeing the home team win.  I definitely think we're good luck.

Took a quick break from the sun to grab a new Natty Boh

Loved these vintage ads

my happy camper

Towards the end of the game we got to witness a hilarious moment.  There was a guy in front of us with his son who was probably about 5 years old.  This kid was PASSIONATE about baseball and I loved it.  He was so into the game.  Late into the game there was a ball hit by an Oriole and it looked like it was fair but the outfield umpire called it foul.  The entire crowd was rumbling about it but this kid had it up to HERE with that call.  He just starts SCREAMING at the top of his lungs about the ball being fair and that the umpire is blind.  Our entire section heard this kid screaming and starting just cracking up at this fiery little kid.  But he was so angry that he was oblivious to anyone paying attention to him.  When he finally sat down our section gave this tyke a huge standing ovation.  It was great getting to see baseball just already cemented into this little kid's life.  I snapped a couple shots of him he was too cute!

he's so angry hahahaha

While we were at Max's earlier in the day we remembered reading that Babe Ruth's birthplace was right near the stadium.  The Babe was born nearby and grew up in his father's saloon which was actually located where the outfield is now.  Neat!  It closed at 5 so we decided if the game was over in time we'd try to make it over there.  We made it in time!  But it was under construction so we only got a photo outside instead of actually getting to visit.  Bummer!

it looks SO cute, too

After the strikeout (PUN INTENDED) at the Babe Ruth museum we decided to find somewhere to grab a beer.  Cam was having a foot problem and really didn't want to be on his feet so instead of walking around the Harbor or something we decided to just chill for the next few hours until our train.  We hopped on Yelp and found a place pretty close to grab a beer and a snack.  If you've made it this far into the post you know that obviously the snack we got was crab.  The place was called Brewer's Cask and I loved every single thing about it.  As a chatterbox by nature I of course chatted up the bartender and he mentioned he was headed to Austin the next weekend!  So I gave him lots of tips!   

pita with crab dip in a bread bowl.  DOES IT GET ANY BETTER!? this place also had an insane beer deal. they were half pours but it was something like 3 6 oz pours for $6 so it was a great way to sample multiple beers for CHEAP.
After our afternoon beer and snack we headed back to Fell's Point.  We walked around the Harbor a bit and then popped into one of the little cafes for dinner.  I ordered a crabcake sandwich and chose mac and cheese as my side.  And the waiter said the best thing ever: "you know we can put crab on the mac and cheese too, right?"  SOLD, KIND SIR.  It was all just THE BEST.  Duh.  

we got a lot of sun at the game
After our yummy dinner we walked around some more in Fell's Point.  There was a nice evening breeze off of the water and it couldn't have been a prettier day.  As the sun set it was time for us to head back to the train station and head back to D.C.  It was about 12 hours in Baltimore and we couldn't have asked for a better day.  Camden Yards deserves all of the recognition it gets and it easily sky rocketed to the top half of our list of stadiums we've been to so far!  

Union Station in D.C.

Since we're in our late twenties our summers are getting full of out-of-town weddings.  A lot of wedding-related travel this year kind of put our baseball stadiums on the back-burner.  Last summer we crossed five stadiums off of the list but this year it's only going to be three. But we do have one more on the agenda for this year which will put us at 1/3 of the way done!  We'll see you soon, Cincinnati...  

1 comment:

  1. That must have been heaven having mac and cheese WITH crab meat. Those fries looked pretty good too.