With the Cardinals headed to Baltimore to play in Orioles Park at Camden Yards this weekend for only the second time ever, it reminds me of the first of my own two visits to the ballpark.
It was on Opening Day 2005, it was brief — and it was free.
I was actually in Baltimore for work, attending a fundraising conference at the Baltimore Convention Center that began on Saturday. The convention center is across the street from the warehouse side of Camden Yards so, during breaks between seminars, I’d see all the action and preparations at the ballpark as it was being readied for Monday’s Opening Day. It was killing me to see it all so close and know I couldn’t go.
The A’s were the Orioles opponent for that first series of 2005 and, at the time, they were my favorite American League team. Nine years later, I have no idea where I found the time to keep up with them in addition to the Cardinals. But I loved that Moneyball/Big Three era of A’s teams, particularly because they were such a contrast to the Cardinals of the time. Opening Day 2005 found only one member of their Big Three remaining — as of course you remember, Mark Mulder was a Cardinal (which, having watched his slide in the second half of 2004 for the A’s, did not thrill me) and Tim Hudson was a Brave — meaning the lone remaining A, Barry Zito, was starting on Opening Day.
The game began at 3 p.m., which was the same time as my final seminar. As I stood on the convention center balcony during the break before the seminar and saw all the activity right there across the street with game time nearly there, I knew I had to go over there once the session ended. Continue reading