Camden Yards turns 20 years old this week

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Where does the time go? This afternoon marks the 20th anniversary of the first game ever held at Baltimore's Camden Yards — a 5-3 Orioles victory in an exhibition game against the New York Mets. The first regular season game would be played three days later with Rick Sutcliffe throwing a complete-game shutout in the O's 2-0 win over Charles Nagy and the Cleveland Indians.

Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun has penned a piece on the anniversary with the paper also compiling the 10 most memorable games and the 10 most memorable moments. Off the top of this non-partisan fan's head, the things the most come to mind when you mention Camden Yards are: Cal's 2,131st, Eddie Murray's 500th, Ken Griffey's blast off the B&O Warehouse, Boog's barbecue stand and Bunk and McNulty's day at the ballpark with Sidney Ponson (but not Gus Triandos).

I probably shouldn't even claim to be a non-partisan fan because Camden Yards remains the best ballpark I've ever visited. Through all of these years of losing Orioles baseball, it still manages to capture my imagination. Often imitated, but never duplicated it's the measuring stick for any ballpark that tries to capture the allure of a Wrigley or Fenway but with modern amenities. It's literally the only place where the humid stick of a midsummer mid-Atlantic night can seem charming.

It also might hold onto its claim of the country's best ballpark for a long, long time. To wit: Mike Dodd of USA Today poses an interesting question asking if the age of the retro-ballpark is officially dead with the opening of the high-tech Marlins Ballpark. The piece quotes Marlins brass crowing about all the computers and art they've crammed into the new stadium. And while I think it does look like a nice park, I also can't help but think a new direction would mostly signal that architects have finally given up trying to top Camden. To fulfill my bloggerly duties by cramming one more Wire reference into this post, the king stay the king.

Where does Camden Yards rank in your ballpark list?

Make sure you're ready for opening day ...
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