“Why are we still doing this?”

Photo by Mark Lane

Last Tuesday night Artie Donovan asked these words to a crowd of more than 700 guests gathered to see the Hall of Fame Baltimore Colt and six others inducted into the Sports Legends Museum’s Hall of Legends.  Donovan couldn’t imagine that after all these years Baltimore still cared.

But Baltimore does care.  These guys, Artie Donovan, Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry, Gino Marchetti, John Mackey, Weeb Ewbank, and Jim Parker did more than wear a horseshoe on their helmet and give lip service to the fans.  They immersed themselves in the city, they took jobs in our factories, shared drinks in our neighborhoods and became part of our family.  They didn’t just play for Baltimore, they were Baltimore.  And they are as much part of this city today as they were back in their playing days.  Our relationship with them is special.

Baltimore is fortunate to have such legendary sports icons such as Babe Ruth, Johnny Unitas and Cal Ripken to claim.  But we are equally fortunate to have Jim Mutscheller, Bruce Laird, Lydell Mitchell, Toni Linhart, Sam Havrilak, Rick Volk and so many others who are willing, after all these years, to help remember and celebrate the glory days of Baltimore Colts football.  Even though the team packed up and left, the heart and soul of those teams remained true to Baltimore.

Tuesday night’s event was truly a special occasion.  For a few hours the Colts were Baltimore’s again and our heroes wore blue, not purple.  Our favorite defensive end was a Marchetti, not a Redding.  The best tight end was a Mackey and the meanest offensive linesman was a Parker.  The band played the fight song and we all cheered “Fight, Fight, Fight” for the Colts, one more time.

Why are we still doing this?  Because people like Artie, Lenny, Raymond and the rest are more than just retired football players.  They are family.  And like family, they stuck by us and we’ve stuck by them.  We are proud of them and grateful for what they did for us, all those years ago.

Shawn Herne is the Chief Curator for the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, Inc.