Thankfully there were no fatalities that resulted from the underground steam pipe explosion that happened near Camden Yards yesterday evening. Although I do extend my warmest wishes and sympathies to those who were injured.
There is something about Camden Yards. It took me a while to get warmed up to it since I was around when Baltimore demolished Memorial Stadium. Sure, it was dilapidated and sad and not safe, but even though I wasn’t born and bred in Baltimore, there was something so…Baltimore about Memorial Stadium. It was plunked right down in a not-so-great neighborhood, but its very bricks seemed to have soaked in all those years of games, the excitement of kids, and smell of hot dogs. It screamed of the old-time stadiums, when although the seats you sat upon were uncomfortable and, let’s face it, the bathrooms appalling, it was all part and parcel to going to a baseball or football game.
I think I was among one of the last audiences to attend a game at Memorial Stadium. It was during pre-season for the Ravens, a training game, but it was still fun since at that point I hadn’t attended many (perhaps only one or two) professional athletic events at an actual stadium. My family wasn’t one for such entertainment; my mother preferred operas, ballets, and orchestral performances. So, for me, it was exciting.
The stadium was run down, the grass wasn’t even mowed because everybody knew that Memorial Stadium was going to be torn down soon so the city didn’t care about its maintenance. But there were still die-hards there, people who showed up simply because they knew that it was going to be the last chance that they could sit in those crumbling chairs and gaze out on what would probably, as future historians would like to view it, a venue to be studied and categorized.
Since then, however, I have come to love Camden Yards, even though I don’t visit it much and eschew the commercial peddling of beer and peanuts and everything else that has been labeled as part of the American baseball experience. It’s a great place and quite beautiful, especially when you’re looking out on an expanse of green, people, and the open sky lit up with bright lights.
Baltimore has its problems, to be sure, and we have had issues with the infrastructure under our city, with its previous sewer systems and yet to be discovered caverns and collapsed old building structures due to fires and development. It’s something that we will probably continue to struggle with since we are near a bay and everything in the city slopes downwards, but there is not much we can do about it in the short-term unless we discover a deposit of Spanish doubloons somewhere the city can claim.
On behalf of Baltimoreans, or perhaps just me, I apologize that there were injuries due to whatever the issue was. We are trying, we really are. But thank you for continuing to visit our city and Camden Yards and I hope all those injured in the explosion last night recover well. Please continue to come see all of us in Baltimore.