Joe Spear is not from Baltimore. He attends few Orioles games. He probably never will throw out a ceremonial first ball or rate a day in his honor.
Spear has made one small contribution to Orioles history, though. He is the person who designed the ballpark in which the team figures to be playing for maybe the next 200 years.
Spear, 39, was the principal design architect of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a ballpark to which he devoted all working hours for about two years. It wasn't the first time at the drawing table for Spear, who is a senior vice president at HOK Sports Facilities Group, the renowned ballpark architects.
Before thinking about Baltimore, Spear played a lead role in designing the new Comiskey Park in Chicago and, before that, Pilot Field, the minor-league baseball palace in Buffalo, N.Y.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards came out of Spear's head, but not in a single pen stroke. He spent months listening to the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Orioles talk about the traditional ballpark they hoped to create. He thought creatively about ways to blend the stadium into its urban surroundings. The B&O warehouse, the ballpark's massive brick backdrop, remains, in large part, because Spear believed it should.
Today, Spear has a good feeling about the new Orioles ballpark. Maybe that is because the stadium is a handsome building. Or maybe because it is a respectful neighbor to rowhouses in Otterbein, Ridgely's Delight and Pigtown.
"This is the way we hoped it would turn out," Spear said. "It's a design specifically for downtown Baltimore."