As we move closer to the start of the 20th season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I take a look back at the top 20 moments in the history of the ballpark. Selected moments had to relate directly to the action on the field at the time. No orchestrated events such as World Series anniversary celebrations or Orioles Hall of Fame inductions were eligible.
20. Wieters’ debut
19. Nomo tosses the only no-hitter in Oriole Park history
18. Orioles rally from nine-run deficit against Boston
16. Showalter takes the helm
15. Palmeiro homers in Oriole debut
14. Griffey hits the B&O Warehouse – July 12, 1993
Since the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, left-handed hitters have taken aim at the historic B&O Warehouse. The hard-swinging — and hard-missing — Sam Horn was the first slugger fans speculated might be able to reach it in the inaugural season.
But in the 1,511 games played at Camden Yards (including 10 postseason games), no one has reached the 1,116-foot long, eight-story building on the fly. Few have even gotten close.
Only 52 home runs have landed on Eutaw Street as entire seasons occasionally pass without a hitter reaching the passageway between the ballpark and the warehouse — most recently last year. Though the Orioles have lacked the left-handed power to threaten the edifice consistently (only 22 of the 52 Eutaw Street bombs were struck by Baltimore bats), opposing sluggers, some with Hall of Fame credentials, have taken their hacks and fallen short every time.
As we enter the 20th season at Camden Yards and the warehouse remains unscathed, it makes the performance of Ken Griffey Jr. at the 1993 Home Run Derby that much more impressive.
Before the derby was transformed into a prime-time, over-the-top event on ESPN, it was a single-round format held on the Monday afternoon prior to the All-Star Game. With Baltimore’s Camden Yards the center of the baseball universe for the “Midsummer Classic,” baseball’s top sluggers competed for bragging rights while lefties had a special target to zero in on.
Competing against fellow American League hitter Juan Gonzalez, who amazingly tattooed the facade of the third deck in left field, Griffey put on a memorable show that was capped off by a blast that soared over Boog’s Barbecue tent and struck a pillar about six feet up on the massive brick structure, drawing explosive cheers from the fans down the right-field line with the best vantage point. He became the first — and only player entering the 2011 season — to hit the B&O Warehouse on the fly.
Ironically, Gonzalez would win the competition in a playoff, but everyone would remember the “Ruthian” blast from the 23-year-old kid wearing the backwards Seattle Mariners cap.
Critics might scoff that it was only glorified batting practice, but the accomplishment grows more legendary as every season passes with the historic building across Eutaw Street remaining unharmed.