For Baltimore, 183 days earlier, it had been farewell to the beloved "field of dreams" up on 33rd Street. Shadows lengthened toward right field on that bittersweet Sunday afternoon in October as the last run, the last hit, the last pitch, the last out, the last loss (7-1 to the Tigers) went quietly into the statistical records that are so much a part of baseball. In a post-game ceremony Orioles old and new, heroes and the barely remembered, clustered near their positions while teary-eyed fans sang "Auld Lang Syne."
Yesterday, down at Camden Yards, it was an ecstatic hello not to a field of dreams but to a "dream field" -- a perfect park for playing baseball. This was not a time for lasts but for firsts -- the first pitch, the first out, the first hit, the first run. And the first win, which went as the scriptwriters would have it to the home team Birds on a nifty 2-0 shutout over the Indians.
The event effectively confirmed the city center as the place to congregate for an entire region. When Memorial Stadium was built, Baltimore had turned its back on its waterfront, a derelict and neglected area, and thought it was heading inexorably northward. Only it didn't happen. An inner harbor that provided a natural setting almost unparalleled for any American metropolis was an irresistible magnet. Civic leaders, determined to keep the city's critical mass for work and play where it belonged, wrought a renaissance worthy of national attention. Harborplace, the Science Museum, the Aquarium, the parade of stately buildings along Pratt Street -- all this unfolded in anticipation of the triumph that is Oriole Park at Camden Yards.