Friday, June 19, 2009

Baltimore's Memorial Stadium Documentary

As a follow up to my recent post on the upcoming Astrodome documentary, I wanted to mention another stadium documentary that I thoroughly enjoyed - The Last Season: The Life and Demolition of Memorial Stadium.

The documentary was originally released in 2002 and celebrates the memories of the great Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Colts teams as well as the fans who cheered for them from the "World's Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum" as Baltimore's Memorial Stadium was affectionately called.

The documentary grew out of an idea by Charles Cohen and Joseph Mathew to shoot some video as fans were attending the final sell-off at Memorial Stadium where items like seats were being sold to the public.
By the late 1990's Memorial Stadium had lost its last tenant, and was being shut down. The Colts had moved out after the 1983 season, the Orioles left after the 1991 season for Camden Yards,

and after a few seasons of CFL football with the Baltimore Stallions, the Ravens played in Memorial Stadium until their new stadium was ready after the 1997 season.

The filmmakers initially started off interviewing fans at the sale about their memories of Memorial Stadium, but the project eventually grew to include interviews with a number of Orioles and Colts legends like Brooks Robinson and Johnny Unitas.

As the question of what to do with the Stadium became a heated political issue, the filmmakers turned their attention to the battles that waged on between the groups that wanted to preserve the Stadium (or at least the memorial on the front of the stadium honoring those who served in World Wars I & II that gave the stadium its name)

and the other groups that wanted to tear it down to use the land for redevelopment.

At one point it looked like a compromise would be reached where the front of the stadium with the memorial would be saved (as these demolition pictures show)

but in the end, the entire stadium came down as it was decided that it wasn't feasible to retain the wall by itself.

The last sentence on the memorial which read "Time Will Not Dim the Glory of Their Deeds" on front of the stadium was moved to a new memorial that is beside Camden Yards:

The documentary shows the eventual demolition of the Stadium over a roughly one and a half year period as the city tries to decide whether to try to preserve a portion of the building or take the entire structure down completely.

Here is the trailer for "The Last Season":

and here is a link to the documentary's website with more information on the documentary as well as information on how to order the DVD.

As an Orioles and Colts fan who has such strong memories of attending games at Memorial Stadium as a kid, watching this documentary is a bittersweet experience. Seeing the players and hearing the stories from fans sharing their memories is very enjoyable, but watching the slow and agonizing demolition of the stadium leaves more than a few tears in my eyes.

As great a park as Camden Yards is, it will never compare to Memorial Stadium in my mind because of all the great memories I have from that ball park as I was growing up as well as the history that took place on 33rd Street when the Colts still played in Baltimore

and the Orioles were the "Best Damn Team In Baseball".


Anonymous said...

Nice article and thanks for the link to Monument City.

Anonymous said...

sounds like what happened with Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Lots of talk but not enough action, and in the end a piece of history was lost forever.

Would the Italians ever think of tearing down the Coloseum in Rome? Of course not. But here in the USA, if it is old it is worthless and must be bulldozed.