Baltimore Sports History: Oriole Park 1-3

April 4th, 2024 by The Professor

by Andrew Ciofalo, host of After The Whistle

Today we all know and love Oriole Park at Camden Yards, its revolutionary design, the inclusion of the warehouse and much more make this Oriole Park feel like the great ballpark that it is. This isn’t the first Oriole Park however… It’s the sixth. The name Oriole Park has a great history and legacy that is often overshadowed.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been home to the Baltimore Orioles since its creation in 1992. When naming the stadium, Oriole Park and Camden Yards were the favorites. Owner at the time Eli Jacobs wanted Oriole Park to be the name when Governor William Schaefer wanted the name to be Camden Yards. The compromise is what we still see today: Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It is a classy name, but I also can’t help but think that the name is an ode to the previous Oriole Parks.

Previous Oriole Parks? 5 of them to be exact. The Oriole name has been used in Baltimore for teams and their playing fields since the 1880s. There were 5 different ‘Oriole Parks’ from 1883 to 1944. Today we’ll look at the original Oriole Park and its short-lived successor, Oriole Park II.

Oriole Park I was home to the first Baltimore Orioles team. The Orioles played in the American Association of Base Ball Clubs league. It is commonly known as the AA and was the National Leagues first rival league. With the two leagues in competition, at the end of the season there was their version of the World Series.

Oriole Park I was located on Huntingdon Avenue and York Road in Baltimore City. The park was in operation and used by the Orioles from 1883 to 1888. In 6 seasons there, the Orioles finished in last place in the AA 3 times. Their best year was the 1887 season when they finished 3rd in the league with a record of 77-58-6. The Orioles were 18 games back of the 1st place St. Louis Browns who would go on to lose to the Detroit Wolverines in the World Series. Oriole Park I hosted one of the games in a very weird series from what you see today. The Browns and Wolverines played 15 total games and played games 10 and 11 on the same day in two different cities. Washington D.C. was the site for the morning game then the teams traveled to Baltimore where they would play game 11 of the series. The Wolverines would win this game and clinch the championship… but for some reason they played 4 more games? Maybe for fun? Who knows!

After the 1888 season, the club moved four blocks north where a new ballpark on 10th street would be created. Soon to be called Oriole Park II, the team would only play 2 seasons there however. It would be replaced by Union Park in 1891. Union Park was said to be much better than the previous park and a lot more convenient. Naturally, Union Park gained the nickname Oriole Park III as it was still home of the Orioles. Union Park was home to the Orioles from 1891 to 1899 and where the club was most successful.

Next week we’ll dive into the first glory days of Oriole baseball as well as Oriole Park IV and V that followed Union Park. Along with the parks, the history of the folding of the AA, joining the National League, and how the Baltimore Orioles we know today came to exist.

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