Home Opinion LETTER: History and baseball in Baltimore

LETTER: History and baseball in Baltimore

To the editor:

George Washington slept here … very likely. But more about that later.

With the season upon us, it’s a good bet that Robin and I are headed to a ball yard somewhere. The Raider baseball season provided some fine moments to watch local talent on the diamond, and Hamlet’s Post 49 season is off to a good start. The Fayetteville Woodpeckers, a minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros, usually draws us for a handful of games each season.

But our favorite major league venue is north of here — some 400 miles as the Oriole flies. Open since 1992, Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards was the first of the new “old” retro-style ball parks when major league baseball began trending away from the round, symmetrical stadiums popular in and after the mid-1960s. Atlanta’s Turner Field — cast aside much too soon — followed closely after. Robin and I have seen all of the teams at their homes, and Oriole Park remains our favorite.

The Orioles were hosting Atlanta recently, and as the Braves were suffering a scoring drought, we had plenty of time to appreciate, all over again, what the park offers. Its most conspicuous offering is bricks … lots of them. Specifically, 430,000 square feet and eight stories worth, occupying the area beyond right-center field. Park designers incorporated the 125-year-old B&O Railroad warehouse into the environs 60 feet beyond the outfield. The city’s Eutaw Street extends into the park between the warehouse and the outfield.

Smells of barbeque and other eats complete the ambience. What you will not find, thankfully, is the first blade of artificial grass.

George Washington missed Oriole Park by two centuries, but historical accounts indicate his connection to an 18th century home located on Washington Boulevard, a short base hit from the park. Washington cousin Michael Warner was the home’s original occupant, and the nation’s first president is understood to have spent time there. Owner/innkeeper Linda Smith (no relation) currently operates the home as Rachael’s Dowry Bed & Breakfast.

Following a previous career that had her often living overseas, the Maryland native purchased the historic three-story dwelling in 2016. Her passion for the city and for gracious inn keeping shows too. Breakfast is included and served by Linda inside dining room walls that, you can imagine, heard fears of what could happen if the British Navy toppled American defenses at nearby Fort McHenry in September 1814; or, speculation about Maryland’s early 1861 decision to secede or remain in the union.

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Incidentally, the home is strongly believed to have served as a stop for escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Your fruit compote and Cinnamon French Toast Strata may well come with informed tidbits from Linda about nearby historical sites, or her evaluation of, say, the Orioles’ current pitching rotation. Well-lighted parking is free for guests and, as we discovered, she is not the only vigilant property owner keeping an eye on the area.

Linda dismissed any ghost appearances with a laugh. It is believed that George and other past denizens of the home spend time munching barbeque at Boog Powell’s over at Oriole Park … or, hanging out with Babe Ruth’s ghost just around the corner at his dad’s old saloon.

Doug Smith
Rockingham