"I always thought … somebody would say: 'Hale's an asset. He's the face of the bank. He designs the building, he does the commercials, he does many things," Hale says, noting that he did everything he could to try to recapitalize the bank. "I thought for sure somebody would want to keep me."

A few weeks after Hale announced his retirement, the local CBS affiliate ran an old commercial featuring Hale and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during a Steelers-Broncos playoff game. Hale, who was watching on TV, says he mockingly shouted: "I'm back! I'm back!"

Still, chief executives come and go.

"I think founders always have to move on," says Brian C. Rogers, chairman and chief investment officer at Baltimore's T. Rowe Price, who got to know Hale when he was recruited by upset shareholders to take over the Bank of Baltimore.

T. Rowe Price was the Bank of Baltimore's largest institutional investor and eventually supported Hale, who at that point had no banking experience.

Rogers says, "I think it's just an inevitable phase that an organization goes through. Everyone in Baltimore hopes that [1st Mariner Bank] survives and prospers."

Hale's friends expect he will prosper, too.

Says Murray, the financial advisor: "He has a lot of irons in the fire, many interesting chapters ahead of him."



What's next for Ed Hale:

Real estate ventures: Hale is pursuing a residential development project at Canton Crossing. He has other properties in the region that he would like to develop once the economy recovers.

Baltimore Blast: Hale, who owns the indoor soccer team, was one of the inaugural inductees into the Major Indoor Soccer League Hall of Fame this past fall.

Politics: Hale is treasurer of Sen. Cardin's campaign committee, a position he has held since early 2005.

1st Mariner Arena: Hale plans to rebid on the naming right, which expires in the fall. Hale's Arena Ventures LLC has the 10-year contract with the city, agreeing to pay $75,000 annually. The bank bought the rights from Hale at cost.

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