- Posted March 28, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Wrigley Field memories
Camden Yards Will Always Be Home
I love the sport of baseball. I watch it daily during the season - its a rare thing for me to miss. I was born and raised in Maryland - just outside Baltimore in Anne Arundel County. That means Orioles baseball. I don't ever remember a time when my family did not go to Orioles games. I have fond memories of the old Memorial Stadium and many of the Orioles players - Mike Flanagan signing my prized O's cap first because I was the only girl in a huge group of kids waiting for him, Jim Palmer and Rick Dempsey signing a foul ball my Dad caught, Brooks Robinson making faces at us through the press box glass on the old mezzanine and Earl Weaver's tomato plants in the outfield. I remember meeting Cal Ripken Sr, at a baseball camp when I was a child - he brought his sons with him and nobody knew who they were then. Wish I had thought to get autographs back then!
When Camden Yards opened, I was already out on my own, living out West. But every time I came home between April and September, there was always a ball game. I remember my first game at Camden Yards - it was my Dad and I - as had been the case at most games - and thinking that it was a beautiful park and what a great addition it was to the Inner Harbor area. It made me proud to be from Baltimore and proud that our city loved the O's enough to build them something like Camden Yards. During that time in my life, when I would tell people I was from Baltimore, inevitably Camden Yards would come up in the conversation and I would proudly tell people it was the "best park in baseball."
All through my childhood and even to this day, each time we have been to a game, we always met people. They would be sitting in the next seats or the next row, below us or behind us - all united in their love for the team and the sport. They were instant friends - some for a game, some for a lifetime, as I still keep in touch with some of those folks met over hot summer nights and O's baseball all those years ago. I remember the special Natty Boh beer cans and finally being old enough to buy one myself (yes, I still have it). I remember the pride of Cal's record - I couldn't be there but my Dad was - and the pride that everyone in Baltimore felt and still feels in having that kind of player spend his career and his life in our city - to choose to play for our team.
Years later, I've had the opportunity to live all over the country. I've been to games in Houston, Dallas, Denver, Cleveland, LA (both teams), New York (Yankees), Boston, Cleveland, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Chicago (White Sox), and Phoenix. There are some beautiful parks - Coors Field, Busch and Jacobs Field come to mind- but none of them will ever be Camden Yards and none of them will ever be home. From Natty Boh, to crab fries and Boogs BBQ to watching batting practice from the flag court and "Thank God Im A County Boy" during the stretch - nothing beats a game in Baltimore at Camden Yards.
I moved back to Maryland in 2008 and lived there for four years before I had to move again. I had the opportunity to introduce my daughters, who have also been to games all over the country, to Camden Yards. When we lived in MD, we went to almost every Sunday home game. One of my daughters chose to have her birthday party at Camden Yards. She'll never forget Nick Markakis throwing her a practice ball or meeting Rick Dempsey at the MASN studio. Camden Yards is as much "home" to them now as it is to me. And every time we go back to Maryland to visit, it's just not "going home" unless we take in a ball game at Camden Yards.
We now live in Texas and had the opportunity to go to the 2012 Wild Card game against the Rangers. We wore our black and orange with pride and both girls made signs. When both of my girls let out the big "O" in the national anthem all I could do was smile. As we were leaving, still on that high from seeing our boys win, my youngest daughter looked back on to the fields and said, "this was really fun mom, and I'm really glad we came, but it's just not Camden Yards."
There's just no place like home - for us that will always be Camden Yards.