Baltimore Orioles tickets

Memorial Stadium

Baltimore, Maryland

Tenants: Baltimore Orioles (AL); Baltimore Colts & Ravens (NFL).
Opened: 1950
First Orioles Game: April 15, 1954
Last Orioles game: October 6, 1991
Demolished: April 21, 2001 (begun November 2000); the Memorial Wall was finally demolished in February 2002
Surface: Bluegrass
Capacity: 31,000 (1950); 47,855 (1953); 47,778 (1958); 49,375 (1961); 49,373 (1964); 52,184 (1965); 52,185 (1968); 52,137 (1969); 53,208 (1970); 52,862 (1979); 53,208 (1982); 52,860 (1983); 53,198 (1985); 54,076 (1986); 54,002 (1987); 54,017 (1988); 53,371 (1991).

Architect: L.P. Kooken Company
Builder: DeLucca-Davis and Joseph F. Hughes companies
Owner: City of Baltimore
Cost: $6.5 million

Baltimore Orioles tickets:

Location: Center field (N), East 36th Street; third base (W), Ellerslie Avenue; home plate (S), 1000 East 33rd Street; section of 33rd Street near ballpark is known as Babe Ruth Plaza; first base (E), Ednor Road.

Dimensions: Foul lines: 309; where the 7-foot fence meets the 14-foot wall, 360; power alleys: 446 (1954), 447 (1955), 405 (1956), 380 (1958), 370 (1962), 385 (1970), 375 (1976), 378 (1977), 376 (1980), 378 (1990); center field: 445 (1954), 450 (1955), 425 (1956), 410 (1958), 400 (1976), 405 (1977), 410 (1978), 405 (1980); backstop: 78 (1954), 58 (1961), 54 (1980), 75 (1987); foul territory: large.

Fences: Foul-line corners: 11.33 (concrete, 1954), 14 (11 concrete below 3 plywood, 1959); these walls bounce balls toward center, reducing triples; left-center to right-center: 10 (hedges April and May, 1954), 8 (wire June, 1954), 7 (wire, 1955), 6 (wire, 1958), 14 (wire, 1961), 6 (wire, 1963), 7 (canvas, 1977).

Exterior view of Memorial Stadium features the Memorial Wall

Memorial Stadium was completed in 1950 to replace Oriole Park, the home of the local International League club, which had burned down six years earlier. It was originally a 31,000-seat stadium used for football and minor-league baseball. Before the Browns moved from St. Louis to become the Orioles in 1954, a second deck was added to the stadium, increasing the park's capacity to 47,855. Unfortunately, its bulky concrete support columns created many obstructed-view seats in the lower level. Later extensions of the upper deck eventually increased the seating capacity to almost 54,000 for baseball and 65,000 for football.

Trivia:

  • First major league park constructed entirely of reinforced concrete.
  • Stadium renovations were not finished for the Orioles home opener on April 15, 1954. The brick facade was incomplete and the lighting towers were not ready. Had the game gone any later, it would have been called for darkness.
  • There were beautiful trees on an embankment beyond the fence in center.
  • Oriole Landing was a picnic area in the upper deck in the 1960s.
  • At the beginning of the 1954 season, hedges served as the center-field fence. In June 1954 a wire fence was erected that stood directly in front of a row of high hedges. The top 6 feet of the fence were covered with canvas padding in 1958 after Harvey Kuenn cut his face trying to catch a home run ball by climbing the fence. The walls in the left- and right-field corners were also padded, after Curt Blefary injured his hip chasing a Max Alvis fly.
  • Wind usually helped lefthanded hitters.
  • Frank Robinson hit the only home run long enough to leave the stadium completely when he drove a Luis Tiant pitch 450 feet and over the left field bleachers on May 8, 1966.
  • The most famous fan was Wild Bill Hagy, the loud taxi driver who led the "Roar from 34," the cheers from section 34, and who also occasionally spelled out O-R-I-O-L-E-S by twisting his body to spell the letters from atop the Orioles dugout.
  • Memorial Stadium inherited the spring ritual of US Presidents throwing out the first ball on opening day when the Washington Senators left the nation's capital after the 1971 season.

Memorial Stadium awaits its fate

  • Fans yelled "O" (for Orioles) in unison when "The Star-Spangled Banner" reaches "O Say does that star-spangled banner yet wave..."
  • The best crab cakes in the majors were served at the stadium's concession stands.
  • Venable Stadium, a football stadium also used for baseball after a July 4, 1944, fire destroyed Oriole Park (V), was renovated to make way for Memorial Stadium. In 1950, home plate was moved from where it had been in the north to its current location in the south.
  • Hosted the 1958 All-Star game.
  • On December 19, 1976, approximately five minutes after the finish of the AFC semi-final game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Colts, a single engine plane crashed into the upper deck almost directly behind home plate. Miraculously, no spectators were injured and the pilot suffered minor injuries.
  • The Bowie Bay Sox, a minor league team, played here for one season after the Orioles left while their own stadium was being completed.
  • The Memorial Wall was the very large and visible concrete plaque located on the outside of the ballpark behind bome plate. Its inscription read: "Dedicated as a memorial to all who so valiantly fought in the world wars with eternal gratitude to those who made the supreme sacrifice to preserve equality and freedom throughout the world - time will not dim the glory of their deeds."
  • In the summer of 2002, about 10,000 cubic yards of broken up concrete from Memorial Stadium is scheduled to be used to build an oyster reef on Gale's Lump in Chesapeake Bay, about five miles northeast of Baltimore.

Recommended Reading (bibliography):

  • Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
  • The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic (Revised Edition) by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
  • City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
  • Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
  • Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
  • Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
  • Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
  • The Story of America's Classic Ballparks (VHS).

 Lloyd Street GroundsSportsman's ParkOriole Park at Camden Yards

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PHOTOGRAPHS:

Aerial view of Memorial Stadium © 1991 by Mike Smith.
Exterior view of Memorial Stadium © 1999 by Paul Munsey.
Memorial Stadium awaits its fate © 1999 by Paul Munsey.

Updated February 2005

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