Orioles to honor greats while upgrading park
Club will unveil six sculptures for Camden Yards' 20th anniversary
BALTIMORE -- With 2012 being the 20th anniversary season of the famed Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the team announced on Monday a series of upgrades to improve the functionality of the stadium and pay tribute to the proud history of the franchise, most notably with a newly renovated area to honor the greatest Orioles of all time.
Larger-than-life sculptures of the Orioles' six retired numbers and National Baseball Hall of Famers (Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr.) will be unveiled during the course of the season. The sculptures will be located in an improved bullpen picnic grove. The area, which will receive significant upgrades and additional landscaping, will be renovated to allow fans access during non-gameday hours, similar to the Orioles Hall of Fame plaques on Eutaw Street.
"We are excited and proud to honor the six greatest Orioles of all time," said club director of communications Greg Bader in a press release. "These legends will now have a more visible presence inside the ballpark, just as they are honored with retired number statues outside the gates. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, it seems especially appropriate to pay tribute to the past while looking forward to a bright future for the Orioles."
The six sculptures will each be dedicated at a different Orioles home game during the 2012 season, with an announcement on the specific dates expected next month.
"Having the players present for their individual celebrations at the ballpark is something we greatly look forward to," said Bader.
The six sculptures are being created by renowned Maryland sculptor Antonio Tobias "Toby" Mendez and will range from seven to eight feet in scale and weigh between 600 and 1,500 pounds each.
Among Mendez's more than 30 publicly and privately commissioned sculptures, busts and reliefs over the past 25 years are works of Justice Thurgood Marshall at both the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md., and BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport; pitcher Nolan Ryan at Rangers Ballpark; coach Don Shula at Sun Life Stadium; and "The Teammates" (Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio) at Fenway Park. The six Orioles sculptures will be cast into bronze by Baltimore's New Arts Foundry, which also cast the statues of Babe Ruth and Johnny Unitas that are located outside Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium, respectively.
In addition to the sculptures, the Orioles have also planned upgrades to the main concourse, Eutaw Street, flag court and upper deck at Camden Yards. There will be a new outfield overlook on top of the batter's eye wall in center field featuring casual seating, a bar and deck seating. Any fan with a game ticket will be able to enjoy this vantage point, which was previously inaccessible to fans, to watch all or a portion of the game.
The out-of-town scoreboard on the right-field wall will be modified to reduce the height of the wall and improve views of the game from the Flag Court and Eutaw Street, and there will also be upgraded concessions in the upper deck.
The Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority are further improving the main concourse with new flooring for next season, a move that not only is an aesthetic upgrade, but also makes for easier cleaning and is a less slippery surface when wet. Select Orioles elements will be added to lower concourse walls, and murals will be added to stairwells.
As a part of MSA's restoration of the B&O Warehouse brick work, a replica of the original canopy will be added to the Warehouse to shelter portable concessions, additional seating, and allow fans on Eutaw Street some shade or a place to escape inclement weather.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.