Monday, July 16, 2012


After all my thirty years at the museum, I am still slightly amazed how the Babe Ruth ‘brand’ continues to hold its top-rung spot in the sports heritage universe, as well as the world of sports collectables. Just the other day a rare photo of the bat-wielding slugger in his Red Sox uniform made the internet rounds, setting off all kinds of excitement. Last month, Ruth’s road Yankee’s uniform went for a record $4.4 million. Sports fans and collectors just don’t seem to be able to get enough of Baltimore’s Bambino. I just wish there was a turn-back-the-clock machine so I could witness the Ruthian whirlwind in up- close-and-personal living color! 

Every year the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation hosts a gala fundraiser to support our mission of preserving local sports heritage, and this year’s edition promises to be something special. On September 5, at the Baltimore Hilton at Camden Yards, we will salute Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, two of the most iconic and beloved Orioles of all time. “An Evening with Cal and Eddie” promises a unique, first-hand opportunity for fans to enjoy the candor of a fireside chat between these Hall of Fame baseball brothers. WBAL’s Keith Mills will moderate the program, with several VIP guests set to pop in.  Tickets went on sale this week, and you can get yours by calling the museum at 410-727-1539.  Reserve your spot today for what promises to be an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I hope many of you can stop by the museum’s booth at the upcoming National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore August 1-5. We will be featuring some rare Ruth and Baltimore sports artifacts that should make your visit well worth the effort. Thanks to Ray Schulte for his kind assist with this project.

Back in January I prognosticated that 2012 just might be the “Year of Our Birds.” And while the boys of Buck Schowalter may not be pennant bound, they certainly have provided Baltimore fans with a satisfying first half of a season. As I wrote six months ago, it is always all about pitching, pitching, pitching, so if the team can somehow straighten out the starting rotation, we might still be root-root-rooting come September. The team’s winning start, by the way, has jumped average attendance by about 4,500 per game, the third highest climb in the majors this year. Here’s hoping the show goes on!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Baltimore Sports Writers Forum

Last night our Sports Legends Museum partnered with the Baltimore Sun to present a Sports Writers Forum at Johns Hopkins University’s Shriver Hall. Former and current Sun baseball writers Tim Kurkjian, Ken Rosenthal, Roch Kubatko and Ed Encina entertained  the 300 fans or so who braved Baltimore’s 102 degree heat assault to take in the more than 100 years of collective clubhouse experience these four brought to the table.

And while they provided the expected behind-the-scenes insight most everyone had anticipated, they also proved to be funny as all get out. The diminutive Kurkjian, on one occasion, related how when he was a young reporter working for a Dallas newspaper, he was sent to the home of the owner of one of Dallas’ professional sports teams to try and scoop a breaking story. So he knocks on the front door of the owner’s posh home, and when the guy answers, Kurkjian says, “Hi, I’m Tim Kurkjian from the Dallas Morning News.” And, without missing a beat, the guy responds to the teen-aged looking beat writer, “Oh, gosh, l’m sorry, I forgot to pay this month’s bill. How much do I owe you?”!!!

There were stories about certain players not liking certain writers, about how a large number of big-leaguers make discreet use of pine tar, about the impact social media has on their reporting careers, and about the extraordinary deadline demands of their jobs.

But make no mistake, these extremely talented writers exuded huge passion for what they do, and thank their lucky stars to be fortunate enough to cover the game they’ve loved since childhood, up close and personal.

Great night, wish you could have been there!

Mike Gibbons
Executive Director

Friday, May 25, 2012

What’s the Value?

With the advent of television shows like Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers, All Star Dealers and Pawn Stars the world of the museum curator has changed.  What was once a steady stream of object donations for museums and historical societies has been reduced to a trickle.  People now think that somewhere in the boxes of family mementos is the golden ticket, the untapped treasure that is going to pay for their kid’s college education or build them a retirement home on a Caribbean island.  Sadly, the notion of preserving something for future generations has been overshadowed by the hope for a cash payout.

Every week I get telephone calls from people wondering if their memorabilia has any value.  And while I usually answer “yes,” my answer seldom equates to the cash reward the caller is hoping for.  See…objects and memorabilia have three types of value; historical, financial and sentimental.  Every item has some, but the latter most often tips the scales.

I usually start by asking some questions.  “Is the item from a memorable moment in time?  Was it used by a legend in the sporting world?  Does it have a specific story to tell?”  These questions help determine if the item has historical value.  Is it something a museum would want to exhibit?

The process gets difficult because historical value often leads to financial value.  But not all items with financial value have historical value.  It is complicated.  A signed Babe Ruth baseball may be worth thousands of dollars but have no historical significance other than being signed by the Bambino.  Now the dilemma of what to do with the item starts to take form.  Should it be preserved in a museum or sold for a financial sum?

The process gets even more complicated when the item has been passed down from generation to generation.  Now emotion has entered the picture.  That same Babe Ruth baseball may have financial value for being autographed and sentimental value if the autograph was obtained by Grandpa when he was a kid. Sentimental value is important.  It is the reason why we have boxes of mementos and memorabilia in our attics in the first place.

Ultimately, determining value is very difficult.  Not everything in those attic boxes is going to sell at auction for a handsome sum.  Your father’s knitted Baltimore Colts hat has very little historical or financial value.  It is definitely not going to be that golden ticket.  But its value lies in the story it tells about the person who cherished it.…and in the end that story lasts longer than any reward from a quick sale.

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ode to the Preakness

The Preakness is sponsored by the Maryland Jockey Club, the oldest professional sporting association in the country. It also serves as the face of Maryland horse racing, the one day of the year when Pimlico’s turnstiles flap to capacity and her betting windows rake in the green.

The Preakness is hand-painted Black-Eyed-Susans, the call of bugles, boisterous silk hats, the Naval Academy chorus, network coverage, the Woodlawn Vase, and front-lawn parking at $25 a pop.

It is run at ‘Old Hilltop,’ before a mixed crowd of upperly-crusted elite and beer-swilling sun worshippers. It is the hopes-and-dreams of owners and trainers, a national platform for state politicos, and the year’s top chance of being noticed for the who’s who crowd.

It is beautiful women and dashing dudes, yellow summer dresses, white bucks and bow-ties, eagerly watching as the field of thoroughbreds loads into the starting gate.

But mostly the Preakness is Baltimore’s annual opportunity to slip back to the days before the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards, when steamboats and the B&O ruled the Bay and beyond. Simpler days, when the locals were more parochial than global, more cultured than course, and the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown was our cozy city’s chance to shine in the national spotlight.

Friday, May 11, 2012


 May 22nd Fireside Chat to Celebrate Broadcaster’s 14 years in Baltimore

            There’s a reason why Jon Miller is enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The winner of baseball’s prestigious Ford Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, Miller combines the uncanny ability to call a play as it unfolds with the unique talent of humorous, insightful storytelling.

            I met Jon in the winter of 1983, the year he came to Baltimore to broadcast Orioles baseball on WFBR radio. I had heard that he could do a pretty fair Babe Ruth impersonation, and I was looking for a voice for a Babe Ruth animatron we were producing. We met in Baltimore just before he headed south to spring training that year, and he ‘auditioned’ his Ruthian impression for me in his room at the Belvedere Hotel. I was sold, hook, line and sinker. The next day Jon laid down six short scripts at a local recording studio, and over the course of that one-hour session sound engineer Betsy Harmatz and I came to learn what a treasure Baltimore was about to embrace. In between takes he charmed us with his extraordinary wit and humor, reeling off one-liners like a baseball version of Johnny Carson.

            For the next fourteen years Miller was the voice of Baltimore Orioles baseball, delighting us with his calls of the 1983 World Series victory over Philadelphia, the 1989 “Why Not” season, the opening of Oriole Park, “2131” and Eddie Murray’s 500th home run. But of all his special moments in Baltimore, Jon says the one that stays with him the most is the night in 1988 when the Orioles came home to Memorial Stadium with a record of 1-23. That was when they started the season 0-21, setting an all-time MLB record for season-starting futility. That night at Memorial Stadium, 51,000 fans showed up to root on their orange and black. They called it Fantastic Fans night, and the HOF broadcaster says he never saw anything like it, before or since.

            Jon Miller will be at Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Central Library on May 22 for “Sports Legends Museum presents Jon Miller,” one of several programs our museum is doing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of Oriole Park. That night, after a meet and greet with fans, Jon will take to the stage to once again share with his Baltimore fans the sense of humor and hyperbole that landed him in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

For ticket information for “Sports Legends Museum presents Jon Miller,” call 410-727-1539.

Mike Gibbons
Executive Director
Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation

Friday, May 4, 2012

Behind the Scenes for the Opening of Oriole Park

           In the hectic days and weeks counting down to the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992, with our museum engaged in myriad activities and events, my primary focus was the dedication ceremony that had been scheduled during the Saturday evening, April 4th, black-tie gala that would provide 4,000 guests with a sneak preview of what everyone else would see at the home opener two days later.

            My job was to write the park’s dedication speech, to be recited by none other than the distinguished actor, James Earl Jones, and then establish a long-distance line of communication with the “Field of Dreams” star, presently in England working on a new feature film. Back then, before the days of global internet and cellular service, transatlantic dialogue was slow and tedious, but by the time he arrived in Baltimore the afternoon of the 4th, we had edited the speech to his liking, while at the same time securing the signoffs of Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer and Orioles president Larry Lucchino.

            With an able assist from Baltimore actor and museum enthusiast Doug Roberts, I was also working with the Morgan State choir, which was providing a wonderful choral arrangement to accompany Mr. Jones’ powerfully evocative baritone testimonial. Doug and I enjoyed an afternoon rehearsal led by Morgan’s choirmaster, the brilliant Nathan Carter, before I set off to fetch James Earl from a high-end downtown hotel.

            While waiting for the famous actor in the hotel lobby, I was entertained by a formally attired bride and groom, who were just about to exchange their nuptial vows near the hotel’s grand staircase. But then down those steps strode Mr. Jones, whose celebrity caused a brief hiccup in the ceremony, as the bride and groom stopped to get his autograph!

            A couple of hours later, with the gala in full swing, Doug, James and I awaited our ceremony cue in the Orioles’ not-yet-used clubhouse. Small talk dripped to dry as the minutes ticked away, but then James broke the silence. “Michael,” he said, “I have to pee!”

            And then it was show time. The choir sang, the actor spoke, the new ball park was dedicated, and my words never sounded so good!

            Happy 20th anniversary, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, you remain baseball’s best!

Mike Gibbons
Babe Ruth Birthplace and Sports Legends Museum

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

Thursday, April 5, 2012

An Ode to Opening Day

For Baltimore baseball fans, Opening Day conjures up a myriad of sentiments and sensations that tug close to the heart and delve deep into the mind. It also signals the restart of the day-to-day rituals associated with following our home team Orioles. Like getting up each morning, coffee, cream and sugar, to pour over yesterday’s line score and where we are in the standings, which spills over to a string of mental probes centered on our prospects for the next game up. Can the starting pitcher get into the seventh? Will the GM call up the Double-A hotshot who’s been ripping it up a Bowie? Will the return of the cartoon bird bring about a magical return to our winning ways (how’d that one slip in there?). Is the left-fielder really fast enough to bat leadoff? And on and on it goes, every day, for six months. Morning to night. The daily ritual of baseball fandom.

But Opening Day also means the smell of cut grass, of fathers and sons, side-by-side, year after year. Of playing catch, the iconic crucible of horsehide pounding leather. And getting out of school early and feeling special. And wearing that old Orioles warm-up jacket, and being proud it still almost fits. And remembering other home openers, from the first time you walked up the ramp and saw the perfectly manicured green and brown diamond in 1954, to the sunny April 1st day when the wind chill was so severe they called the game and all the media at first took it for an April Fools joke. 

But mostly Opening Day is about renewal; the real start of Spring, when we look forward with hope to the new season, while at the same time remembering and sensing all that came before, all that got us to this moment in time. Baltimoreans have a long tradition of Orioles’ home openers that dates back to 1882, the year the team took its name. Since then they’ve played in the American Association, the National League, the International League and the American League, but play they have, establishing one of the great legacies in all of sport.

And for Baltimore baseball fans, the startup of yet another campaign brings all those years and all those team, and all their fans, and all those memories, together to make for one hell of an orange and black smorgasborg!

Happy Opening Day, Baltimore!

Mike Gibbons
Executive Director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

For this Bird fan, Hope Springs Eternal

Every year around this time, baseball fans begin evaluating their team’s chances for the fast-approaching regular season, and –in turn- predicting their place in the standings, a post-season appearance, or, even a championship! Here in Baltimore, most fans are far more pessimistic than otherwise, and for good reason. That’s what 14 straight losing seasons does.

But this fan, for one, predicts that things will start to turn for the better in 2012, and that’s because pitching is the name of this game, and I am really starting to believe that this years’ Birds might be a whole lot better than anyone is anticipating. And because history, every once in a while, repeats itself.

Here’s what I’m getting to: in 1960, the team’s 7th year in the league, our Orioles enjoyed their first-ever pennant chase. They went into mid-September challenging the Yankees for first place supremacy, and even swept three from New York here in Baltimore before folding down the stretch. They were able to make that run primarily on the good arms of a very young pitching staff, nicknamed the “Baby Birds.”

Guided by veterans like Skinny Brown and Hoyt Wilhelm, five young pitchers, Steve Barber, Chuck Estrada, Jack Fisher, Milt Pappas and Jerry Walker propelled Baltimore to 89 wins, a second place finish, and a league-low 3.54 ERA. Their average age…21!

Which brings me to my optimism over this year’s installment of Baltimore Orioles baseball. Over this past off-season, new GM Dan Duquette’s top priority was loading up with enough arms to give manager Buck Showalter some real competition for starting sports and relievers. From where I’m watching, the plan looks like it just might be working. Through Monday night’s 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh, Showalter’s hurlers have held the opposition to an ERA just under 3.00, the fourth lowest in MLB this spring!

Can this carry over into the regular season and all those games against American League East opponents? Certainly not, but I think this year’s pitching corps is markedly better than the 2011 group, and if pitching is the name of the game, then might we not be in for a pleasant surprise?

I think so. Just call me mister optimistic. Let’s revisit this in September and see if history, indeed, can repeat itself!

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

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why I’m a Little Optimistic

This year is the 20th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  It is hard to believe it has been twenty years.  Think back to all the hope and excitement we had back then.  The Birds were going to soar to new heights.  And they did…for a while.

By now you might be thinking this is going to be another piece about all the losing seasons…the empty seats at Oriole Park…or the lack of this and that in the clubhouse.  It isn’t.  The arm-chair managers have all said that more than we care to listen.

Instead, I’m a little optimistic about this upcoming season and it is not because we have a new GM or new acquisitions in the clubhouse.  I’m optimistic because we have seen this before.  I want to offer a little hope about what this season could be.  Hope, that is, if you are just a little superstitious.

At the end of the 1991 season the Orioles left Memorial Stadium.  The team went 67-95, scored only 686 runs and allowed 796.  They were 6th in the A.L. East.  Fast forward twenty years.  The 2011 Orioles were 69-93, scored 708 runs and allowed 860.  The Birds were 5th in the A.L. East.  On paper, the numbers were quite the same.

But the 1991 Orioles had some big names on their roster.  Cal Ripken, Chris Hoiles, Brady Anderson, David Segui, Mike Mussina…all were part of that losing team.  But they had potential. 

The following year the Orioles went 89-73.  They finished third in the A.L East and were only 7 games back of first place at the end of the season.  And that is the beauty of baseball.  The fortunes of any team can change from season to season.  Losers one year can be playoff contenders the next.  The lineup in 1992 hadn’t changed much in an off-season but the team certainly had.

I’m not looking at 2012 as another year of the same ol’- same ol’.  Instead, I’m looking for that same magic that took a losing team in 1991 and made it a winning team in 1992.  That Oriole Magic that might make this 20th anniversary a real year to celebrate.

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


As a kid growing up in northern New York and southern Quebec in the 1970s and 1980s I was a Montreal Expos fan.  There weren’t a lot of us, but we still loved our team.  Gary Carter was my favorite.  He was “the Kid” and I thought he was amazing behind the plate.

During those years I also loved auto racing.  Formula One driver Ayrton Senna was my hero.  I couldn’t wait for my family’s annual trip to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal to see the cars race.  Senna was “the Brilliant Brazilian.”  He was incredible behind the wheel of a car…faster than anybody else.  I was probably his biggest fan.

On May 1, 1994 Senna was killed at the San Marino Grand Prix.  The steering on his car broke and he hit the wall.  A piece of the suspension pierced his helmet.  As I stared at the television as the medical crews tried to save him I knew it was over.  My hero just died before my eyes.  A piece of my childhood was over.

It is odd the deep bonds we develop with our favorite athletes.  As kids we know everything about them, we dream of being like them, we hope to follow in their footsteps.  It is hero worship in its purest form.  We are crushed when they are traded, saddened when they retire, and mournful when they pass away.

In 1986, I felt that way about Gary Carter.  I couldn’t believe he was going to the Mets!  Not the Mets!  I was angry!  I was betrayed!  But he had a stellar career there and deserved to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I was proud he went in as an Expo.

Today I’m a little sad…not just because another one of my childhood heroes is gone, but because a great man of only 57 years has left us.  His battle with cancer was probably more heroic than any of his accomplishments on the ball field. 

I never met him, personally, but he was still a part of my childhood.  He was a great player.  Thanks for the memories, Gary…and thanks for giving a kid in northern New York a hero to follow!

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Year of the Bird

Now that the Ravens have been literally ‘kicked’ out of the playoffs, it is only natural that Baltimore’s sports attention shifts to baseball, with pitchers and catchers due to report to Sarasota in less than three weeks.

I don’t know about you, but I get pretty jazzed up over the start of spring training every year. It is a time when baseball fans everywhere get to think big and dream the improbable. In Baltimore, where we have suffered 14 consecutive losing seasons, we wonder if our young arms can rebound from a mostly disastrous 2011. We wonder about new GM Dan Duquette. We wonder if this might just be the Year of our Birds.

After listening to Buck Showalter and Brady Anderson at an event at Sports Legends Museum the other night, and then again to Scott McGregor at a stop on the Hot Stove baseball banquet over the weekend, I have reason to believe it just may be.

Brady, who was recently appointed as a special assistant to Mr. Duquette, has been working this off-season with a handful of players on conditioning and strength. He says the exercise has gone well, especially with Brian Matusz, who never recovered from an early season injury lat year and wound up going 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA! Brady thinks things will be different for the young left-hander this season, and I trust Brady.

I trust our manager, too. Buck Showalter knows the game, knows his team, and on top of that is a full-fledged history buff. He is more than aware of the proud tradition of Baltimore Orioles baseball, and seems hell bent on restoring that tradition. At Legends, Buck told us that while Dan Duquette may not have any blockbuster moves under his belt thus far, he has created better depth throughout the system, while at the same time acquiring enough arms to create a legitimate competition for the five starting rotation spots.

Finally, there was something Scott McGregor said at the Oldtimers Baseball banquet on Sunday that, quite frankly, I had forgotten about. Scott recalled that at the end of last season, mid-way through September, to be exact, the Orioles competition pretty much was all contenders, and we won four series and tied one!

So if we could consistently beat New York, Boston, Tampa Bay, Detroit and California, powerhouses all, as they were all vying for playoff berths, then why can’t we carry that over into 2012! And as much as we wanted Prince Fielder or some other big-time slugger right in the middle of our every day, we all know that it is pitching, pitching, pitching that will make or break this year’s Orioles.

My guess…this will be the Year of the Bird!

See you out there!

Mike Gibbons

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Painting the Town

We’ve painted the town purple.  We have Ravens caravans traveling the city.  The Marching Ravens Pep Band is playing the fight song.  Everyone is wearing purple.  The parties are planned.  We are ready for this weekend’s AFC Championship game.

Baltimore is definitely a football town.  We love our Ravens and support our team like no other city.  Is Boston flooded in blue light?  Is New York?  No.  We are loyal fans.  True, the Patriots’ fans are incredibly loyal.  So are the Giants’ fans.  But they don’t paint the town like we do.  Why?

I think that in cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, even Pittsburgh, few people remember what it was like before football.  Their teams have always been there.  The first kick-off off the season is just assumed.  No one from these towns has experienced the emptiness of an autumn without the NFL. 

Marylanders know what it means to lose a team.  We know what it feels like to see a pro-football season open with no one to cheer for.  We know the empty feeling of being left out of the National Football League.

Football is an incredibly strong part of our community’s identity.  We are proud, we are loyal because we remember.  We are also grateful.  Grateful that we have a strong team.  Grateful that we have icons like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to call our own.  Grateful that on any given Sunday from August to January we have someone to cheer for.  Ravens are OUR team.

Go Ravens!

To see Purple Pride photos from around the community, check out this page on the Raven's Official Website:

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

Friday, January 13, 2012

Baltimore and NFL Playoff Games

30,000 Colts Fans at Friendship Airport (now BWI), welcoming the team home
after a championship victory in 1958

With our city totally juiced over this Sunday’s home playoff game, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at hour Baltimore teams have faired in NFL post-season play.  Let’s start with this fact: 2011 marks the 47th year that Charm City has been in the NFL. The Colts tenure ran 31 seasons, from 1953-1983. The Ravens’ franchise, which kicked off in 1996, is now completing year number 16.

And of those 47 campaigns, you ask, how many merited post-season play? The answer: 18. Baltimore’s Colts went to the playoffs ten times: 1958, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1976 and 1977. For our Ravens, Sunday’s divisional game marks the eighth year the purple and black have made it to the playoffs: 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and this year.

Over the span of those 18 years Baltimore teams have played 28 games so far, winning 15 and losing 13. Among those wins, they have chalked up five league championships and two Lombardi Trophies.

Brian Billick’s squads went post-season four years and compiled a 5-3 playoff mark. John Harbaugh teams are now appearing in their fourth post-season, too, and are currently 4-3 in the playoffs. Don Shula and Ted Marchibroda each took three Colts’ teams to the post-season, with Weeb Ewbank and Don McCaffrey going twice.

With Sunday’s home game, Baltimore will have hosted 10 playoff games and been the visiting team 16 times. Three Super Bowl appearances were played at neutral sites.

But regardless of the team, coach, year or location, the one constant has been what playoff football means to the community. When the Colts won their first championship in 1958, 30,000 fans flooded Friendship Airport (now BWI-Thurgood Marshall) to welcome back the team from New York. Today, thousands of fans have flocked to enemy cities to root on their post-season Ravens.

And each and every citizen, football fans or not, seems to have a noticeable extra zip in their step. Playoff football does that…always has.

I say Ravens 24, Houston 6. Hope I’m right, because then we get to zip-zip-zip all over again next week!

See you out there,

Mike Gibbons

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

Friday, January 6, 2012

Show Some Respect

I took a friend of mine to the Ravens’ Christmas Eve game against the Browns.  It was the first time in thirty years that he had attended a professional football game.  He was very impressed with the Ravens’ pre-game festivities and the level of passion shown by the Baltimore fans.  He was surprised, however, by the lukewarm reception given our quarterback during the player introductions.  He was right.  The crowd’s enthusiasm for Joe Flacco was just mediocre.  There was definitely a roar for other players.  Why not for Joe? 

Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs are institutions in this town.  For years they have been the face of the Baltimore Ravens and they have earned every second of respect and recognition they receive.  But even Ray Rice and Torrey Smith receive warmer welcomes than old Joe.  Has he not delivered?  Has he not surpassed all the previous Ravens’ QB records?  Hasn’t he led the Ravens to the playoffs every year since his debut?    

So what’s the problem?  Joe, in many ways, is the Pete Sampras of football.  He regularly gets the job done but otherwise is happy to keep his profile under the radar.  He doesn’t have a flashy intro dance like Ray Lewis.  He doesn’t have a trademark wrestler move like Aaron Rodgers.  He doesn’t scream and yell at the officials.  He doesn’t lash out at the media.  He doesn’t hang out with runway models or party with the Hollywood crowd.  He just quietly goes about his business.  He’s kind of boring.

Perhaps that’s the problem.  Joe is the victim of his own creation.  He doesn’t have a swagger.  He doesn’t talk trash.  He really doesn’t promote himself.  Facial hair aside, he’s just a regular guy.  Unitas didn’t talk trash, but he certainly walked with a swagger.  His cool demeanor came across as confidence.  He didn’t lead like a quarterback, he led like a general.

Baltimore likes drama…a little theatrics both on and off the field grab headlines.  We like fire and passion.  We like a little trash talk that is backed up on the field.  It is why we love Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs.  They are fiery and passionate.  Joe’s a little too sedate…more like a librarian than a professional athlete. 

I think for Joe to rise to the level of respect of some of his teammates he is going to have to open up.  He needs to show some fire.  He needs to show confidence.  He needs to show the crowd that he has as much passion as we do.  He needs a swagger.  Perhaps then the crowd will go wild when he walks out of the tunnel.

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