Monday 15th September – Wednesday 17th September
The journey from Philadelphia to Baltimore on Monday took just over an hour. We only had a couple of days there, but this is what we learned…
1. The Star-Spangled Banner was written in Baltimore 200 years ago
Almost to the day, as it turns out. We arrived at the end of celebrations for the 200 year anniversary of the writing of the US national anthem. This included historic tall ships and navy ships, which had sailed to the Inner Harbour area for the occasion.
Initially a poem, the Star-Spangled Banner was written after an attack by the British on the young independent nation of the United States. The anthem refers to the flag still flying the morning after the bombardment, showing that the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ had survived the attack.
2. Try the crab cakes
Maryland is famous for its crabcakes. And the best place in Baltimore for crabcakes is widely considered to be Faidley’s, in Lexington Market. My view of ‘lump and fries’? Absolutely delicious.
The Baltimore Orioles are winners of the American League East!
Baltimore is well known for being a city that loves its sport, and Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, is regarded as one of the country’s best ballparks.
And we couldn’t have arrived on a better day. With no planning on our part, we happened to be in town on the day the Orioles could win (or “clinch”) their division. For the first time since 1997. Surely we couldn’t see a piece of baseball history?
Many people turn up to baseball games with homemade signs (mainly to get on TV and/or the big screen in the stadium). Our favourite was a spoof Christmas card that read ‘Merry Clinchmas!’
The Orioles started badly, going 1-0 down in the top of the first inning. But they soon took the lead, scoring three in the bottom of the first. The Orioles’ starting pitcher, Ubaldo Jiminez, continued to struggle, but the Orioles kept fighting, and were 7-2 ahead by the end of the eighth inning. The atmosphere throughout the game was absolutely electric – you could feel the nerves and excitement in the stadium.
The fans were much louder than we are used to at baseball games. They had a number of chants and songs, mostly based on the team’s nickname, the O’s. Before the game when the national anthems were sung (and yes, that is plural, as the Orioles’ opponents were the Toronto Blue Jays), the crowd co-opted the lyrics, bellowing out the “O”s in “O Canada” and “O say, can you see”!
So to the top of the ninth inning. The Orioles were 8-2 ahead. They needed to get just three players out and they would win the league. Every out was greeted with a standing ovation, and when the final out was secured the roar from the crown was phenomenal!
We stayed behind after the game to watch the players celebrate, both in their dressing room (beamed onto the big screen) and on the pitch with the fans.
There was a lot of champagne spraying involved, but you can’t say they weren’t prepared…many of the players wear goggles to protect their eyes, and the players’ changing room is protected with plastic sheeting!
What an amazing experience, and we were so incredibly lucky to see them clinch the division live!
Song of the day
It has to be the Star-Spangled Banner. In this video, made to celebrate the 200th anniversary, CNN challenged members of the public to sing it. Luckily, the words are also provided in the subtitles….