Wednesday, December 28, 2011


As the clock keeps ticking towards the holidays, and the rush of last minute shopping gets neatly wrapped and under the tree, many of us will probably take a few minutes to reflect back on the year just passed, and also of the myriad of possibilities that encompass the next twelve months.
For me, I am grateful that our Ravens have provided the thrill of a fourth consecutive playoff campaign. Having a successful sports franchise, year-in-and-year-out, brings a sense of continuity to the community that it otherwise would lack. The Ravens are something everyone wants to talk about, regardless of their level of interest in sports. Aside from the weather, winning sports teams are what communities have in common. Thank you, Ravens!

Looking forward, all I really want from Old Saint Nick is for the Orioles to return to the good graces of the baseball gods. We fans need desperately for our orange and black to be back in contention. If young people thrill to the steady victory of Ravens football, imagine how they will react to a Major League pennant race! Baseball comes at you every day, and it doesn’t get any better than to have your home team battling for a playoff spot deep into the season. Good luck, Orioles, and let’s hope that 2012 will be the year we remember as the start of the turnaround.

Same thing for Maryland Terrapin football and basketball. Our Terps have a new AD and two new head coaches. And while this year’s edition on the gridiron and over at Comcast Center leave a lot to be desired, you have to hope that both programs can generate a healthy turnaround in the immediate and not-too-distant future. Remember Ralph’s first year? Remember how Cole and Comcast rocked with Gary? We need that back, pronto!

So as the year winds down, here’s hoping that all our teams get or stay competitive, and that sports can take its rightful place, along with weather, around the community water cooler, month after month, year after year. That’s the way it should be.

Happy Holidays,

Mike Gibbons
Mike Gibbons is the executive director for the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, Inc.

Friday, December 9, 2011

“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.