When Oriole Park at Camden Yards first opened in April 1992, it became an instant success—both for Major League Baseball and for the city of Baltimore. Thirty years later, the magnitude of its magic is still felt more than ever.
While the ballpark’s economic and tourism impact on downtown Baltimore is unparalleled, it is the cultural impact on the people—including children of Maryland—that makes this one of the most special places in the city and in all professional sports.
Often, especially for those living outside the city limits, a visit to Oriole Park is a child’s first introduction to all that downtown Baltimore has to offer. Whether it’s attending an Orioles game or participating in one of the team’s many youth-focused charitable events, millions of children have been exposed to Charm City inside these gates.
As one of the most family-friendly experiences in professional sports, Camden Yards offers countless opportunities for children who attend a game here. Thousands of families have visited the ballpark through the team’s Kids Cheer Free program, one of the leading child-centered initiatives in sports and entertainment. Launched in 2018, the program allows children ages 9 and younger to attend Orioles games completely free of charge, an incredible opportunity for local families to enjoy a day together without the burden of financial stress.
Once inside the park, Birdland’s youngest fans can experience an entertainment area inside the Kids’ Corner. Features include “The Bird House”—a treehouse activity center and jungle gym—as well as a moon bounce, SkeeBall, baseball games and more. Most notably, the Kids’ Corner also offers exclusive kid-friendly and value-item concessions, including snowballs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and other original ballpark favorites.
The Orioles also bring the ballpark experience into the community with several youth baseball initiatives. The team’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program has been inspiring Baltimore City youth to play baseball and softball since 1989, impacting more than 19,000 local children since its inception. The Orioles cover all costs to participate in the league and provide teams with equipment and customized jerseys. Children of these teams have also been able to experience once-in-a-lifetime moments through youth clinics at Camden Yards, getting to practice on the same
Major League field their heroes play on every day.
These programs and more make Camden Yards a haven for local children 81 days a year and beyond. Over the last 30 years, young fans have witnessed some of the most iconic moments in Orioles’ history inside the Eutaw Street gates:
*The Sept. 6, 1995, night of 2,131, when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s thought-to-be unbeatable streak for most consecutive games of baseball played.
*Eddie Murray’s legendary 500th home run.
*The recent five-year stretch in which the Orioles owned the best record in the American League from 2012-2016.
Whether it’s the big moments or the seemingly ordinary games, countless memories have been made by children and families inside this storied venue.
Now, 30 years later, many have experienced a full-circle effect in their Orioles fandom. The young kids that first came here in 1992 with their parents are now bringing their children to experience the same magic that once filled their youth.
Even further, many of these young fans turned their childhood passion for Orioles baseball into professional careers. Kids that once dreamed of the big leagues now help bring that experience to millions of others—from broadcasters like Brett Hollander to current hometown players on the field and dozens of employees in the Warehouse. Numerous native Marylanders who grew up inside these gates now live out their dreams at the ballpark that raised them.
Today, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our beautiful ballpark, the millions of children that have experienced its wonder and the next generation of dreamers still to come.
Kailey Adams is the senior coordinator of public relations and publications for the Baltimore Orioles.