Dream Field

April 07, 1992

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.

Yes, it will make money. Yes, its corporate skyboxes are not the stuff of old-timey Baltimore. Yes, it should spin off all kinds of economically rewarding new development and enterprise. But for the 44,568 fans lucky enough to witness Opening Day, the lasting impression will be one of a ballpark that was as spectacular as it was comfortable in its setting. They were there to watch the ceremonies: Gov. William Donald Schaefer cutting a huge orange ribbon running from foul pole to foul pole, President Bush one-hopping the ceremonial first pitch, bands playing, fireworks popping.

But, wondrously enough, the fans also witnessed a splendid game of baseball. They could start to get a sense of how the winds blow, how those outfield walls beckon for the first homer yet to be hit, how the crack of bat on ball actually sounds, how one finds the warmest seats (in the bleachers) on a cold day.

As at Memorial Stadium, the afternoon shadows still lengthen toward right field. The grass is real, the sky undomed, the reminders of yesterday carefully put away to welcome today and tomorrow.

Indeed, the field of dreams we knew and loved has turned miraculously into a dream field, with delights that are a delicious anticipation.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.