Chronological Tour: Stop 21

The Grand Old Lady of 33d Street

The exterior dedication plate at Memorial Stadium.

A nearly empty park during an Eastern League game in Aug-1993.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
Oriole Park in Baltimore burned down on the Fourth of July in 1944. Mercifully, the International League’s Orioles were out of town. They returned from their road trip and were forced to play their games in Municipal Stadium, a high-school football facility.

Fortunately, an upstart football team known as the Colts also started playing in Municipal Stadium a few years later. It became one of the All-America Football League teams adopted into the National Football League in 1950, by which time a new facility, Memorial Stadium, had been completed for them. The Orioles moved in as well.

With the new stadium, a movement started to bring major league baseball back to a city that had only seen it for four seasons since 1899, when the storied Orioles of the National League folded. (A Baltimore franchise in the American League only lasted for two years, 1901-02; the O’s were in the Federal League in 1914-15 as well.) Fortunately, within a few years, three of the five cities with two teams saw one of them move. The Braves fled for Milwaukee, the Athletics took off for Kansas City, and the St. Louis Browns arranged to relocate in Baltimore and rename themselves the Orioles. A second deck was hastily added to Memorial Stadium, and the O’s began a 38-year tenure in 1954.

Thanks to the football configuration, the foul lines were just 309 feet deep, although the center-field fence was a more traditional 405 feet. Many also complained about the narrow tread (room between seating rows), especially in the upper deck. Still, tears were shed when the Orioles hosted their final “Memorial Day” in October 1991 – even as their new facility, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, was being hailed as a thing of beauty.

Baseball would receive one last hurrah at “the Grand Old Lady of 33d Street”, when the Eastern League’s Bowie Baysox, relocated from Hagerstown, played here for one season while waiting for Prince George’s Stadium to be completed. And when the Cleveland Browns of the NFL moved to Baltimore, the rechristened Ravens played two years here before receiving their own new stadium at Camden Yards. The Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League played here for a short time as well.

Memorial Stadium succumbed to the wrecking ball during the summer of 2001. The site is currently occupied by facilities operated by the YMCA; although most of the playing surface is not built on, it has been regraded. I saw no marker for the field layout on a visit to the site in March 2010.

Read one man’s story of life with Earl Weaver at Memorial Stadium and Dunn Field in Elmira, N.Y.
Game # Date League Level Result
46 Sun 15-Sep-1991 American MLB BALTIMORE 4, Cleveland 3
87 Mon 9-Aug-1993 Eastern AA BOWIE 3, Canton-Akron 0
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This page updated 15-Oct-2014