Explore Washington D.C.

Gimme an O!

Don’t tell Baltimore that baseball’s “just a game.” For many here, it borders on an obsession. Credit three world championships, legendary players and a trend-setting stadium.

Home Base
No surprise that Orioles HQ rises in the heart of town, two blocks from Babe Ruth’s birthplace. When Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in 1992, it set a new standard for urban baseball-only stadiums that mix history with high-tech. Other cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati took note, building strikingly similar ballparks.

A relic from the site’s rail-yard days, the park’s B&O Warehouse (circa 1900) lines the Eutaw Street pedestrian zone. Here jersey-clad fans tuck into Boog’s BBQ (run by former first baseman Boog Powell), score more O’s merch and scan the sidewalk for brass plaques marking the landings of home-run hits. Inside the stadium, a sea of green seats gives good sightlines on the (retro!) real grass field, while sophisticated LED scoreboards track the action. Certainly it’s a setting worthy of “Iron Man” Cal Ripken’s 1995 record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game.

For the park’s 20th anniversary, Ripken returns as a larger-than-life statue, along with effigies of other Hall of Famers— Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and Eddie Murray—to await fans in the new Legends Park. Also new this season: a bar with deck seating above the “batter’s eye.”

At Bat
Despite a run of disappointing seasons, fans and players remain loyal to the team. “I can’t see myself playing anywhere else,” says right-fielder Nick Markakis, a Gold Glove winner and our cover star. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re still fighting. We’ll get there.” Help may come from new executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who oversaw a Boston Red Sox turnaround.

Area rivalries fuel the competitive spirit. The Beltway series, pitting the Orioles against the Washington Nationals, ended in a tie last year, but the O’s have the overall series edge (2-1-3). Whatever the scores, fans cheer their team (and its new orange uniforms worn at Saturday home games), and they cherish traditions like bellowing “O!” at “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave.” This year Baltimore marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, when Francis Scott Key penned those patriotic verses right here in the harbor. With such close ties to a “key” moment in history, no wonder the O’s feel like America’s team.