COURTESY OF NATHAN BICK An action shot at Nationals Park in D.C. as the Nats are up to bat.
Here at Hopkins we have an unusual and special opportunity. While it’s clear that this school’s academic and research opportunities are top notch and of course there are many other opportunities, that is not what I’m talking about.
Rather, we have the ability to easily see two baseball teams: one American League team, the hometown Baltimore Orioles, and one National League team, the next-door Washington Nationals.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is famous nationwide for having initiated the trend of returning to the style of the midcentury ballparks over the past 25 years or so.
Oriole Park is modeled after Fenway Park and Wrigley Field as well as their demolished counterparts in other cities. The ballpark is comfortable and boasts good food options. The Orioles also offers a nice student discount on Fridays.
The ballpark eating options feature the typical hotdogs and crackerjacks. Natty Boh beer is also served in a true display of Baltimore pride.
The park is right next to the Inner Harbor, so a combined visit to both is a great way to spend the day and night.
Nationals Park is a relatively new ballpark, which makes sense given that the Nationals franchise is barely over 10 years old.
The park takes cues from the tradition established by Oriole Park. The views from the stands are great; You can see the frenetic pace of construction in the Navy Yard neighborhood of D.C. as well as a glimpse of the U.S. Capitol.
The Nationals don’t have the same student discounts that the Orioles do, but the opportunity to make a day trip to D.C. to see the monuments or to enjoy the vibrant city life is well worth it. Using the MARC train or driving, if possible, is relatively convenient when leaving from Baltimore.
Nationals Park has traditional ballpark food as well, but there are some unique and punny options like The Steak of the Union.
Be sure to pay attention to the famous Presidents Race: In the middle of one of the early innings, big bobble-headed mascots in the form of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and sometimes other presidents run a race along the side of the field.
Teddy is the crowd favorite, and the Presidents Race may be more beloved than the seventh inning stretch. The characters of the two cities come out in the fan bases of each city’s respective team, and so the environment in each of these two ballparks is distinct.
The Orioles franchise is storied and enjoys a well-established fan base that goes back several generations in many native Baltimore families.
The Nationals franchise is much younger and only recently has it fielded teams worth following, so the fans are often new to baseball or are converts from other teams.
Baltimore is a more native-heavy city than Washington, D.C., which has a large population of transplants from around the country. These characteristics combine to create a down-to-earth, cozy, of-the-people environment within Oriole Park, and a yuppie-infused, hip and trendy vibe within Nationals Park, although in both cases this is an oversimplification.
A similarity between the fans of each club is their relationship with the fans of some of the more premier franchises in each respective division, the NL East for the Nats and the AL East for the O’s.
Orioles fans have to deal with fans of the Yankees and the Red Sox, the two top teams by far. Nats fans have to deal with Phillies, Mets and Braves fans.
In particular, Phillies fans can regularly be seen attending Nats games, often to the point where Nats games against the Phillies don’t look like home games.
The Orioles will always have the popularity of the two most popular baseball teams in the world to deal with. However, their hometown spirit is all their own.