What do I know about Baltimore? In my childhood, I learned it was the childhood home of the great George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Later, I was accepted to graduate school at Johns Hopkins University in the early Seventies, but opted to go to UC Berkeley instead.
Well, I am headed to Baltimore for a totally different reason today. I never thought I would, but I am going to a San Francisco Forty Niner away game at the Baltimore Ravens. And a reunion with my old buddy, Dirty Pat, who I met at the Super Bowl in Nawlins in 2013. Yes, he is the same Dirty Pat who I visited in Bucharest, Romania last May. He invited me to join him, his buddy Mark, and 60,000 other Ravens fans.
They say the redevelopment of the harbor in the late 70s ushered in a great urban renewal for Baltimore. “While a good part of the city’s action centers around the fun and festive Harbor area, where street entertainers, open-air concerts, fireworks and parades abound, the surrounding neighborhoods offer all sorts of interesting landmarks, unique shops and delicious restaurants. Wander around Fells Point, the oldest section of Baltimore, reminiscent of an old English village, complete with pubs and cobblestone streets. Take the kids to the aquarium and check out the imaginative creations at the American Visionary Art Museum. Or stop by the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum for an in-depth look at the Great Bambino’s life. Baltimore is also renowned for its African-American heritage sites, plus festivals and cultural events that take place throughout the year. From historic places and harbor cruises to family friendly attractions and fabulous neighborhoods, Charm City is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States.”
So, I guess I will be able to see if this is just typical Chamber of Commerce hype or the real deal. The city of Baltimore is the most populous city in Maryland, with about 620,000 (metro area 2.8 million) people. Only forty miles NE of Washington, DC, it suffers a little identity crisis, in my opinion. The inner harbor was once the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the U.S.
Baltimore had its share of famous residents: Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglas, Cab Calloway, Dashiell Hammett, Gertrude Stein, Upton Sinclair, Ogden Nash, W.E.B. DuBois, Tom Clancy, H.L. Mencken, Billie Holiday, Michael Phelps, Frank Zappa, and Babe Ruth, among others. Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812 in Baltimore during the bombardment of Fort McHenry.
The Ravens play at M&T Bank Stadium next door to the Orioles Camden Yards baseball field. The Ravens began their franchise in Cleveland, and moved to Baltimore in 1996. And of course, they beat my Niners in Super Bowl 47 in Nawlins. The Ravens got their name from the famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven.
The city suffered through riots in 1968 (The Baltimore Riot of 1968) after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The city lost an estimated $10 million ($72 million in 2019 dollars), as both Federal troops and the National Guard were ordered. Baltimore has also experienced high homicide rates over the years, primarily affecting the African American community.
The big redevelopment, centered on the Inner Harbor began in the 70s. Several big projects, retail and restaurant, museums, and a convention center were key parts of this vast transformation. In 1992, the Baltimore Orioles baseball team moved into Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In 2012, Johns Hopkins completed one of the largest medical complexes in the U.S.
The athletic company, Under Armour is based here in Baltimore. Lacrosse is a big deal here, as the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays have won 44 NCAA men’s championships. And the Preakness horse race, the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown is run each May at Pimlico Race Course.
But I am here for a football game and related festivities. I might be the only one rooting for the Niners. Dirty Pat sits directly behind the visiting team bench and harasses the opposing teams players throughout the game. It should be an interesting few hours. Dare I wear my Niner gear?