Larry Cancro took his breaks every day the same way. During that 1989 season, the longtime Red Sox employee stood near Section 28 near the ramp leading to the third base deck at Fenway Park as he watched Wade Boggs feel like 300 practice grounders at third base.
But on this special day, something else caught his eye. He looked at a woman with a yellow legal pad, to look up at her neck before writing something down. Cancro felt he needed to investigate.
“Excuse me, can I help you?” Cancro asked.
“Oh no,” replied Janet Marie Smith. “I’m just trying to figure out what makes Fenway Park so great.”
Smith, then the Orioles’ vice president of planning and development, was inadvertently caught up in a relationship that would help him answer that question—and become an ally and friend in future years. For the next six hours, Cancrow and Smith looked about Fenway Park from Green Monster to the terrace overlooking Jersey Street.
At all times, on his yellow legal pad, Smith kept notes. They became instrumental in the design project of Camden Yards in Baltimore, inspiring the creation of an old-fashioned ballpark with modern amenities.
Thirty years after Camden Yards opened, Cancrow and Smith once again stood near Section 28 in Fenway Park, reminiscent of a tour that took place in Camden before Smith joined in 2002 to renovate Fenway Park in Boston. Helped shape the yards.
These two American League East stadiums go hand in hand. As inspiring as Fenway Park proved to be in the creation of Camden Yards, the success of the ballpark in Baltimore brought changes to the original in Boston.
“One place gave birth to another, which reborn the first,” said Cancro, who is now the senior vice president of Fenway Concerts and Entertainment.
From the brick masonry to the individual floodlight posts, Smith took on all the intricacies of Fenway Park during that visit. And when Cancro visited Baltimore in 1992 to see the finished product, the similarities between the parks were noticeable.
But there is no greater connection between them than the environments of Utah Street in Baltimore and Jersey Street in Boston. Up on the roof all those years ago, Smith asked Cancrow if the Red Sox had ever considered bringing Jersey Street inside the turnstiles. He had not.
Smith liked the idea, however, and it became an isolated part of Utah Street at Camden Yards, a game day destination with a unique feel.
“Uttow Street was born because we saw its success,” Smith said Friday while looking down at Jersey Street. “But then Utah Street did it one by one by staying inside the gates. Then when we came here 10 years later, we were like, ‘Hey, do the same thing again.'”
The decision to include Jersey Street as a part of the ballpark on game days helped to ease some of the crowds in the cramped lanes, but it also took away space from the Gino Building to the left field line and under a garage beyond right field. Claimed.
Widening gatherings at Fenway Park was a lesson learned more from Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium than Camden Yards. When the Orioles changed stadiums, they made sure there was enough room for fans to maneuver. This eventually brought a welcome change to Fenway Park that continues over the years with Sam’s Deck and Truly Terrace in the right area.
During the Camden Yards design process, Smith was aware that then-Orioles president Larry Luchino envisioned a ballpark that differed from the cookie-cutter style many other stadiums adopted. So Fenway Park’s unique outfield angles became a turning point, and in a moment, the Orioles even considered lightly flipping the dimensions—with the Red Sox’s left field becoming their right field—at Camden Yards.
“We were never serious about the actual dimension,” Smith said, “but only an idea of the quirks and how many angles there are in the outfield and how it’s formed.”
And there was a moment when Smith toyed with the idea of building the perfect area wall to the B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards, one by one the size and scale of the Green Monster.
“It was a fun idea, leaving the idea of this in-the-park street, Utah Street, won the day,” Smith said. “It was like, ‘What is that wall about? We can have this 50-foot-high, 1,000-foot-long red brick wall.’ But then we were like, ‘No, we like the idea of Utah Street.'”
Still, in the right field, there is a 16-foot wall leading to the Flag Court. And now with refurbishments to left field in the hopes of reducing the number of home runs at Camden Yards, Baltimore also has a smaller version of the Green Monster—even if it’s more clunky.
The brick that lines the exterior and exterior of the stadium, inside the bowels of Fenway Park, was brought to Camden Yards. Enclosed tunnels giving way to a view of the field were imitated. As was the green, though Smith never dared to imitate Fenway’s green.
“If you look around Baltimore, we call it Camden Green,” Smith said. “That dark green complements the brick so well.”
But there is no greater comparison between Fenway Park and Camden Yards than between Jersey Street and Utah Street, although each has its own differences. Cancro said Utah Street, along with Boog’s Barbecue and other buttoned-up concession stands, serves Baltimore. Jersey Street exudes a North End Italian feast with sausage grilling and a party atmosphere.
They played one after the other, though – the most obvious example of how much Fenway Park inspired Camden Yards before returning to the Camden Yards side.
“It’s like art imitating life,” Smith said, “and art imitating life.”
What’s to come?
After the Orioles finished a five-game series with the Red Sox on Monday, they returned to Camden Yards for an extended homestand, with matchups against the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Guardians and Chicago Cubs on the horizon.
During that stretch, another spot starter may be needed for Tuesday, with Saturday’s doubleheader and an injury to right-armer Spencer Watkins throwing the rotation out of rhythm. There is a chance right-hander Grayson Rodriguez could make an appearance, although having pitched for Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, there will be less rest early Tuesday, possibly ruling him out.
Watkins will not be eligible for a return from the 15-day injured list against the Cubs until June 7. Rodriguez is still reinventing himself with the hope that he reaches 100 pitches before his debut. Rodriguez threw a season-high 88 pitches on Friday, scoring two hits, no runs and 10 runs in seven innings.
Baltimore may find a spot starter in left-hander Zack Lowther. He recently pitched on Thursday, keeping him on track for full rest to come on Tuesday.
what was good
Bats have been a wake-up call for several players this month, including Rugged Odor and Trey Mancini. For Mancini, in particular, his change of fortune has followed a change of calendar.
The first baseman hit .224 last month with a .316 slugging percentage. With another good week in May, the batting average has risen to .358, highlighted with a double and walk on Sunday’s 3-for-3 day. Mancini scored 7-for-23 last week, which helped raise his slack percentage to .432 this month.
Perhaps no other Oriol showed as much misfortune as Mancini in the first month of the campaign, when hard-hitting balls went without reward and he got gloves. He’s out of the evening now, which is a promising sign for Baltimore’s lineup.
What was not?
First baseman Ryan Mountcastle has never been a base-percentage oriented player. But with four strikeouts between two matches on Saturday, he continued a weak week at the plate, striking out 11 times between seven games.
Manager Brandon Hyde is not worried. But Mountcastle’s home run count is lower than last year’s, and he hit just .179 last week.
“He’s going through a bit of a tough time right now,” Hyde said. “I’m not really worried about him.”
on the farm
Gunnar Henderson didn’t record a hit in Sunday’s Double A Bowie’s series-ending win against the Erie Sea Wolves, but he did make another move. This was his 40th of the season in 42 matches and his fifth season last week.
Henderson has impressed in Double-A, showing a plate discipline and power combination that resulted in .975 OPS and will likely lead to Triple-A in the near future.