April of 1992 ushered in a new era with Baltimore baseball. Camden Yards, the new nest of the Baltimore Orioles, came onto the scene with a breath of fresh air. The ballpark would set the trend for the next 30 years. That’s the story we know as the neo-classic park was the answer to the legendary Memorial Stadium, but what about the other five Oriole Parks that paved the way?
From 1892 to 1944, multiple Oriole Parks were built around the Baltimore area … and came and went. Legends from Babe Ruth to Roy Campanella ventured through these hallowed baseball fields and added to the culture in Baltimore baseball.
Let’s take some time to go back in the majestic history of baseball in Baltimore with the Baltimore Orioles
Oriole Park I
The first Oriole Park housed greats such John McGraw, Wilbert Robinson and Joe Kelly during the 1890s. Not much is known about the ballpark due to very little information being available, but what is known is that Oriole Park was built on Huntingdon Avenue (now 25th Street) and was an open style wooden structure. The 1890s Orioles won the Temple Cup during their powerful run of the late decade.
Oriole Park II
Located about four blocks away from the original Oriole Park was Oriole Park II, located on what was known as York Road and later Greenmount Avenue. Geographically, the square-shaped ballpark also resided in the suburban village of what used to be known as Waverly. The ballpark welcomed the second iteration of the Baltimore Orioles, but they were not long-term tenants as they stayed from only 1889 to 1891 due to the ballpark not providing a good experience for its attendees.
Oriole Park III
Oriole Park III also known as Union Park was south of Waverly at Greenmount Avenue. The ballpark came just in time for the National League Orioles to win three straight NL pennants as well as being the Temple Cup champion twice as well. For eight years, Union Park would be the last ballpark for the team before the end of the 19th century.
Oriole Park IV
The ballpark resided on the rectangular block, with its location being on the northwest corner in Baltimore. Oriole Park’s fourth iteration would set the beginning of the end for the Baltimore Orioles at the beginning of the 20th century and would later change the forefront of the baseball scene for decades to come. The American League, which was formed in 1901, proved to be too much for the original Baltimore Orioles, which coincidentally led to them folding and leaving for the 1903 season. The Orioles moved to New York City as the New York Highlanders, which would be later known as the New York Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles would then come back as a minor league team with an entry in the Eastern League, subsequently giving way to bring on future stars such as Babe Ruth.
Oriole Park V
Also known as Terrapin Park, Oriole Park housed the Baltimore Terrapins from the Federal League and the International League Baltimore Orioles. Much like most of the ballparks before, Oriole Park found its shape based upon being uniquely shaped on a block between 10th Street and 11th Street. Both are known now as Greenmount and 30th Street. Multiple leagues came through old Oriole park in its time like the Oriole Park IV, such as the Baltimore Elite Giants in late 30s through the early 40s. Eventually teams came and went, and one of the more prominent tenants were the International League version of the Baltimore Orioles. During the late 1930s to mid 1940s, the Orioles were on a surge. In 1944, the Orioles won the International League pennant. Unfortunately, on July 3, 1944, Oriole Park burned down, pushing the Orioles to play elsewhere in order to finish their season.
From the ashes of the ballpark came the beginning of the modern baseball movement in Baltimore.
The Orioles moved to Municipal Stadium following the loss of Terrapin Park. The minor league team would win the championship and would survive through the building of Memorial Stadium’s early phase of construction. When the St. Louis Browns decided to move to Baltimore in 1954 to bring in the modern era of the Baltimore Orioles, the rest was history.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards has become the sixth and most recent version of the ballpark located in Baltimore. The legend of Baltimore baseball is kept by literature, exploration and research. Realistically, these parks are now buried under concrete, brick and streets. Unless you are willing to discover the bottom of the iceberg, the average Baltimorean wouldn’t even know they exist. The exception is Peabody Heights Brewery, which is located on the exact location of Old Oriole Park with some of the remaining brick wall and extensive effort done by historians to keep the history going.