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 The Best Baseball in Maryland

Marylanders love baseball. The Orioles are the big-league team, of course, but the state is also home to seven minor-league teams, three baseball museums, and a monument to a storied slugger.

The Baltimore Orioles (tel. 888/848-2473; http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com) play at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The stadium is easy to get to, right off I-95 to I-395 at the bottom of the ramp into town. Parking in lots around the stadium usually costs about $10. The Light Rail also stops here for every game. The ballpark was designed to bring spectators closer to the action, and it does. Watch out for foul balls! There's also a promenade that follows the warehouse building along the outfield wall; stop at the deck overlooking the bullpen to watch the pitchers warm up. Food here is pretty good, ranging from hot dogs to Italian sausage to crab cakes. Former Oriole Boog Powell's barbecue stand sends a cloud of smoke up over the scoreboard wall -- the pit-beef sandwiches are worth the wait in line. The park also offers tours that give visitors a chance to sit in the dugout, and in the press box from April to September.

An Orioles game might be a great place to bring a client (the stands are full of them), but a minor-league game is the place for families. In addition to lower ticket prices (less than $10) and more intimate stadiums, many minor-league games offer playgrounds, fireworks, and special family events.

The Aberdeen IronBirds (tel. 410/297-9292; www.ironbirdsbaseball.com), a Class A affiliate of the Orioles, are owned by Aberdeen native and Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken and his brother Billy Ripken. The stadium has remained a popular place to catch a game since it opened in 2002. Nearby youth-size fields copy the dimensions of famous parks; Cal Sr.'s Yard, for instance, is a miniature replica of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The "warehouse," like the one at the real Camden Yards, houses a 120-unit Courtyard by Marriott (tel. 410/272-0440). The Ripken Academy here operates a series of baseball clinics, tournaments, and the Cal Ripken World Series.

The Bowie Baysox (tel. 301/464-4865; www.baysox.com), a Class AA Orioles affiliate, usually have a fireworks display after Saturday home games. The team plays in Prince George's Stadium, in Prince George's County, northeast of Washington, D.C.

The Delmarva Shorebirds (tel. 888/BIRDS96 [247-3796] or 410/219-3112; www.theshorebirds.com), an Orioles affiliate in the Class A South Atlantic League, play near Ocean City, at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Maryland. An Eastern Shore Hall of Fame here celebrates Delmarva baseball from amateur to pro.

The Frederick Keys (tel. 877/846-5397; www.frederickkeys.com), a Class A Orioles affiliate, play at Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, off I-70 and Route 355 (Market St.). The Keys draw fans from Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

The Hagerstown Suns (tel. 800/538-9967 or 301/791-6266; www.hagerstownsuns.com), a Class A affiliate of the Washington, D.C., Nationals, play at Municipal Stadium, on Route 40, in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Hall of Famer and former Oriole Brooks Robinson is part owner of the newest team, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (tel. 301/638-9788; www.somdbluecrabs.com). An independent in the Atlantic League, the team plays in Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.

Baltimore City has two sports museums celebrating baseball. Yes, the Babe was a Yankee, but he was born in Baltimore in the narrow rowhouse that is now the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, 216 Emory St. (tel. 410/727-1539; www.baberuthmuseum.com). Next door to Oriole Park at Camden Yards is Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, 301 W. Camden St. (tel. 410/727-1539; www.baberuthmuseum.com), filled with mementos of Orioles history as well as other local sporting memories.

If you visit Chestertown, on the Eastern Shore, look for the life-size statue of Bill Nicholson next to the town hall on Cross Street. In the 1940s, the Chestertown native was a home-run king with the Chicago Cubs. He led the majors in home runs and RBIs in 1943 and 1944. During the 1944 season, the New York Giants intentionally walked him with the bases loaded, rather than risk a grand slam. He died in his hometown, Chestertown, in 1996.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.