Oriole Park at Camden Yards is pictured on its first Opening Day, April 6, 1992.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is pictured on its first Opening Day, April 6, 1992. (AP File Photo, Carroll County Times)

In honor of Oriole Park at Camden Yards' 20th anniversary, members of the Times' staff selected the ballpark's 20 best, whether it be baseball moments, games or the few playoff series' played there. The top of the list has one clear theme - Cal Ripken.

1 Cal Ripken's 2,131st consecutive game (Sept. 6, 1995).

This was a moment that transcended the Orioles franchise and the city of Baltimore.

Ripken's record-breaking streak was celebrated by the entire nation and all of baseball in more ways than the nightly number change on the B&O Warehouse and the multitude of tributes thrown his way.

Ripken was one of the majors' most beloved stars and the night he broke Lou Gehrig's supposedly unbreakable consecutive-games record is the lingering memory of an accomplished career.

What made it so special wasn't any pre-arranged ceremony. It was the moments after the game became official. Ripken, emerged from the dugout multiple times to wave to the crowd, kiss his wife and hug his kids, and then begin his unforgettable 22-minute lap around the Yard, when even the ESPN broadcasters went silent to appreciate the shortstop shaking hands with seemingly every fan seated in the front few rows.

It's an instance which is still regularly seen in baseball montages and on the Camden Yards video board. His back-to-back homers with Bobby Bonilla an inning earlier were just gravy.

2 Cal Ripken's 2,130th consecutive game (Sept. 5, 1995).

After a strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series, in the midst of a lousy first (and only) season under manager Phil Regan, Orioles fans crammed into their seats early, ready for Ripken to become forever linked with Gehrig.

And cheer they did, for some five minutes once the game became official. They cheered even louder when he homered the next inning, as Baltimore proceeded to rout the Angels 8-0. That was the greatest moment in the history of Camden Yards to that point, though it would be surpassed 24 hours later.

3 First Opening Day at Camden Yards (April 6, 1992).

At the time, it was the grand opening of the new jewel of baseball, as Memorial Stadium's replacement was heralded for its retro feel and for halting a trend of cookie-cutter stadiums.

The design has been copied over and over since, and on this day, it was celebrated with the first of many sold-out Opening Day crowds.

Although Rick Sutcliffe seized the moment, he sure didn't savor it as the Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians 2-0 in just 2 hours, 2 minutes thanks to a fast-paced shutout from the right-hander.

It remained the shortest game at Camden Yards until June 5, 1998, when the Orioles played a 1:53 contest against the Atlanta Braves.

Memories

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"To me, it's the most important memory of all. Oriole Park changed the design of ballparks, and how fans looked at the stadium experience. Every stadium after it was compared with Oriole Park."

-Rich Dubroff

4 Cal Ripken ends The Streak (Sept. 20, 1998).

Ripken ended it on his own terms and quite hush-hush.

For the Orioles' final home game of the 1998 season, Ripken chose to not have his name in the lineup for the first time in 16 years, snapping his record consecutive-games streak at 2,632.

No one knew until prospect Ryan Minor's name was listed as the starter at third base, with Ripken nowhere to be found on the lineup card. Baltimore went on to suffer a 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees that night, but all the attention was on Ripken, who was frequently shown on the bench during the television broadcast.

5 Eddie Murray's 500th home run (Sept. 6, 1996).

Exactly one year after 2,131 and less than two months after being brought back to Baltimore at age 40, Murray crushed his milestone homer well into the night.

After a 2:20 rain delay, Murray, batting left-handed in front of a much-depleted crowd, hit his first pitch from Detroit's Felipe Lira deep to right field to become just the third player in baseball history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers.

Confetti rained down and a sign congratulating Murray was unfurled on the batter's eye in center while those in the stands chanted his name. The Orioles went on to lose the 4:18 marathon in 12 innings, but the orange seat now situated where Murray's 500th landed ensures the night won't be forgotten.

Memories



"I'll freely admit I've made some bad decisions during my career. This was maybe the worst. I was covering the Orioles in 1996, but this was before we were doing much with the Internet and there had been an interminable rain delay, so there was no way we were going to get the game into the next day's newspaper. I was young and stupid and I left. And just as I was pulling up in front of my apartment, I heard the call on the radio and just sat there, feeling like a fool for missing history."

-Bob Blubaugh

6 1993 Major League All-Star Game (July 13, 1993).

The first Midsummer Classic in Baltimore since 1958 was a huge success, albeit not because of the National League's 9-3 win.

This one will be remembered for John Kruk vs. Randy Johnson and the supposed snub of Orioles starter Mike Mussina.

Kruk's third-inning at-bat against the Seattle Mariners' intimidating, and sometimes wild ace remains one of the lighter moments in All-Star history. When Johnson sailed a fireball of a fastball over Kruk's head with his second pitch, the Philadelphia first baseman had enough, meekly flailing at the last two offerings to happily strike out and take a seat with his head intact.

Then there was Mussina, who began throwing in the bullpen in the ninth without being asked to do so. Orioles fans assumed AL All-Star manager Cito Gaston told their ace to warm up and then didn't use him. Gaston has been villified in Baltimore because of it ever since.

7 1993 Major League Home Run Derby (July 12, 1993).

When Camden Yards was constructed, it was assumed that balls would frequently be hammered off the B&O Warehouse.

To this day, no one has done it in a game, but Ken Griffey Jr. famously accomplished the feat in the 1993 Home Run Derby. Like the baseball-shaped plaques which are scattered across Eutaw Street to commemorate bombs hit there, one small plaque is situated on the base of the warehouse to honor Griffey's blast.

As impressive, however, was the monster shot eventual derby champion Juan Gonzalez sent off the third deck facade in left field.

Memories



"My dad almost missed the fun parking the car somewhere in Fell's Point and taking the water taxi back across. Griffey was nice, but Tom Selleck going deep in the celebrity game was epic. I've always been a big Magnum P.I. fan."

-Pat Stoetzer

8 Cal Ripken's final game (Oct. 6, 2001).

The departure of one of the Orioles' most cherished stars, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer who was the face of the franchise for two decades, outshined an otherwise forgettable contest.

Ripken's farewell speech at the center of the Camden Yards diamond was the highlight of a hitless night for the Maryland native, who was stranded in the on-deck circle at the end of a 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox, which capped a 63-98 season.

Seeing Ripken in uniform one last time made the night memorable even though the performance of Ripken and the team didn't.

9 Texas' 30-3 win over the Orioles (Aug. 22, 2007).

When the Orioles announced that they had removed manager Dave Trembley's interim tag early in the day, they had no clue what was waiting for them that night.

The Texas Rangers put together a historic onslaught, overcoming an early 3-0 deficit with 30 unanswered runs, scoring the most runs in a major-league game in 110 years and setting the American League single-game scoring record in the process.

It seemed to be a typical rout until the Rangers scored 16 runs over the final two innings (10 in the eighth), even converting some Orioles fans to their side when it became apparent history was being made.

10 Chris Hoiles' ultimate slam (May 17, 1996).

How often do you imagine that pressure-packed moment, stepping to the plate with the bases loaded and down three?

Put yourself in Hoiles' shoes on this day, when it was his turn to hit with Baltimore trailing 13-10 with a full count and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Hoiles bested Seattle closer Norm Charlton, hitting it out of the park for a 14-13 win, becoming the 23rd player in major-league history to hit an ultimate grand slam.

Memories



"Perfect strangers were hugging one another. A truly remarkable moment back when the Orioles were actually good."

-Brandon Oland

11 Mike Mussina near-perfect (May 30, 1997).

Mussina had his share of near-perfect games, but one stands out most from his time in Baltimore.

On this day, the Orioles' top pitcher retired the Cleveland Indians' first 25 batters. In total control and two outs away from his first career no-hitter and perfect game, Sandy Alomar grounded a clean single into left.

Mussina went on to sit the next two Indians, and settled for a one-hitter.

12 Orioles' ALDS win over the Cleveland Indians (Oct. 1-2, 1996).

It was the first playoff series played at Camden Yards, and back when the park was still filled every night, the Orioles didn't disappoint the packed house.

Baltimore beat the Cleveland Indians 10-4 behind five homers in Game 1, including two from B.J. Surhoff. The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series with a 7-4 victory one night later, scoring three times in the bottom of the eighth to break a tie. Baltimore went on to win in four games.

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Memories

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"I can admit this now - I called in sick to work so me and a buddy could go to one of the home games. I caved and told my boss a few weeks later, and his response was something to the effect of, 'Why didn't you ask me to go with you?'"

-Pat Stoetzer

13 Jeff Reboulet homer off Randy Johnson propels Orioles to The ALCS (Oct. 5, 1997).

Facing the best lefty in the league that season (Randy Johnson) with a chance to close out the Seattle Mariners in Game 4 of the 1996 ALDS, manager Davey Johnson didn't start two of his best - Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar, neither of whom had been particularly good against southpaws that year.

They were replaced by Jeff Reboulet and Jerome Walton, and the move paid off. Reboulet homered off Johnson during a two-run first that proved to be enough for a 3-1 win in Game 4, sending the Mariners home and the Orioles to the ALCS.

14 Orioles complete Boston's historic collapse (Sept. 28, 2011).

The final day of the regular season was hyped in every way possible with four teams alive for two playoff spots, and one of the games was being played in Baltimore.

Perhaps the biggest heroics of the night came in Tampa Bay. But the Orioles played their part in taking out the Boston Red Sox, who led the Rays by nine games on Sept. 4.

The Orioles trailed 3-2 heading into the ninth before coming back on closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had fanned the first two batters of the inning. Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold hit back-to-back doubles to tie it and Robert Andino won it, 4-3, with an RBI single that ended a dreadful Orioles' season on an uplifting note.

15 Hideo Nomo's no-hitter (April 4, 2001).

Nomo made quite the impression in his debut for the Boston Red Sox, and did so in Baltimore.

On the second day of the 2001 season, a 43-minute delay for a power outage didn't slow the Japanese right-hander, who tossed his second career no-no, striking out 11 in a 3-0 blanking of the Orioles. It remains the only no-hitter thrown at Camden Yards.

Memories



"I was supposed to cover this game, but switched with Pat Stoetzer to go on a second date with my future wife and mother of my children. I've still never seen a no-no. Depending on your perspective, this was either a really good or really bad decision on my part."

-Bob Blubaugh

16 Orioles' exhibition with Cuba (May 3, 1999).

In a show of goodwill with Cuba, Orioles owner Peter Angelos orchestrated a home-and-home series with the country's national team.

After Baltimore won in Havana in March, the Cubans returned the favor at Camden Yards with a 12-6 rout.

It was a show of diplomacy that was three years in the making, but also turned into an embarrassment for the team because of the defeat.

17 Tony Fernandez homer wins ALCS for Cleveland (Oct. 15, 1997).

On the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs, the Orioles battered Cleveland starter Charles Nagy for 12 baserunners in 7 1-3 innings but couldn't score.

Mike Mussina turned in eight scoreless innings to hold the Indians at bay, and Baltimore allowed just two hits through 10 frames. But Tony Fernandez homered off Armando Benitez in the 11th. His shot onto the right-field flagcourt scored the only run of the contest, and ended the Orioles' season.

Memories



"A shocked silence pervaded Oriole Park when Fernandez's home run gave Cleveland the only run to win a taut, well-played, but sometimes forgotten series. No one would have believed it would be the park's last to date."

-Rich Dubroff

18 Snow storm on Opening Day

(March 31, 2003).

Opening Day 2003 took an unusual turn in the third inning when, out of the blue, Camden Yards was blanketed in snow.

For a brief period, the Orioles and Indians were playing in blizzard-like conditions, and for some reason the umpires let play go on for much of it.

The strangest moment came with Ellis Burks at the plate. Burks knocked a fly ball to right and everyone lost it in the snow. No one could tell if it was fair or foul, and umpires ruled it in play for an RBI single that tied the game at 1-1. After a 13-minute delay, the park slowly emptied and few remained when the Orioles wrapped a 6-5 win in 13 innings.

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Memories

"Already shivering in the right-field upper deck, my dad called to warn me and my three comrades that snow was headed our way. I was like, 'Yeah sure,' until seeing it sweep over the opposite wall and fill the Yard with the fluffy white stuff. Baseball weather indeed."

-Josh Land

19 Orioles and Mariners brawl (June 6, 1993).

This wasn't just a mild dustup. It was an all-out brawl, the kind that resulted in injuries and ejections, and included a massive pile-up.

Mike Mussina ignited it when he plunked Seattle's Bill Hasselman in the seventh, and Hasselman charged the mound. Benches and bullpens poured onto the field, and the scuffle lasted 20 minutes. Seven players and Mariners manager Lou Piniella were tossed, Cal Ripken twisted his right knee and Mussina's season took a steep downturn.

20 Cal Ripken's 400th homer (Sept. 2, 1999).

At the end of a rough year, Ripken gave fans something to cheer about on this day against Tampa Bay.

Ripken launched a two-out, three-run homer down the left-field line in the third off Rolando Arrojo. Ripken received extra applause after reaching the milestone, which later made him the seventh player to join the 400-homer, 3,000-hit club. An orange seat now marks where Ripken hit No. 400.

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