Time will not dim the glory of their deeds
Though Baltimore's Memorial Stadium was dismantled to make space for Johns Hopkins University expansion in early 2001, the World War I and World War II memorial that had been constructed as a major wall of the stadium will live on.
Also present at Memorial Stadium for many years was a ceremonial urn containing samples of soil from every American war cemetery in the world. Long after the Orioles moved into their new home at Camden Yards, the CFL Colts played their last game, and the Ravens began playing at PSINet Stadium, the urn was delivered to the American Legion.
At the Baltimore Orioles' 2003 opening game on March 31, 2003, these remnants of Memorial Stadium were reunited in a new memorial. The new monument, dedicated to veterans of all American wars, sits between Oriole Park at Camden Yards and nearby PSINet Stadium. The letters from the bottom line of the original memorial, the cemetery urn, and a new decorative marble wall were combined to construct the memorial.
The original read as follows:
ERECTED BY THE
CITY OF BALTIMORE
THE MAYOR AND THE CITY COUNCIL
AND THE PEOPLE OF BALTIMORE CITY
IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND
AS A MEMORIAL TO ALL
WHO SO VALIANTLY FOUGHT
AND SERVED IN THE WORLD
WARS WITH ETERNAL
GRATITUDE TO THOSE WHO
MADE THE SUPREME
SACRIFICE TO PRESERVE
EQUALITY AND FREEDOM
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
TIME WILL NOT DIM THE GLORY OF THEIR DEEDS.
The stadium was opened in 1950 and the memorial dedicated in 1954, a year which also brought the first Orioles game (prior to that, Memorial Stadium was used for major league football and minor league baseball games). It was the first major league park to be built entirely of reinforced concrete. The art deco lettering style of the memorial was so controversial at the time that it was labelled un-American and even "communist." Over the fourty years of baseball at the park, the seating was progressively expanded from 31,000 seats to over 54,000. Lights were added for night play.
Memorial Stadium saw the last Orioles' title win in 1983 -- a feat which probably will not be repeated by the current team. In 1966, Frank Robinson became the first (and only) player to hit a home run completely out of the park at 450 feet. In the baseball diamond's original configuration, home plate was located in the South end of the field. It was moved to the North in 1950, where it stayed until the last baseball game at Memorial Stadium in 1991. In a miraculous combination of timing and luck, a single-engine plane crashed into the upper deck of the stadium immediately following an AFC game on December 19, 1976; no spectators were hurt and the pilot sustained only minor injuries.
I was in attendance at the final Memorial Stadium Orioles' game on October 6, 1991*. My father won two tickets from a drawing held by our bank. Like every game at the stadium, we parked a distance from the park in one of the cramped and hard-to-access lots where cars could only leave in the reverse order of when they arrived. We had seats along the first base line, under the shade of the upper deck. Our view of the outfield was blocked by one of the "infamous" supports for the heavy concrete structure; this was one of the features designers sought to eliminate in the cutting-edge Oriole Park. The game started with little fanfare -- the Tigers went on to beat the Orioles 7 to 1. After the game, however, a tear-jerking ceremony ensued where over 100 current and former Orioles players, managers and personalities took to the field. Those who weren't able to attend shared greetings over the jumbotron. As part of the festivities, home plate from the park was dug up and loaded into a limo -- fans watched as it was delivered live to the site of the new stadium.
* I find conflicting dates for the final game, both online and in print. Some say September 30, but October 6 seems more common.