We write as eyewitnesses to the agony of the Colts' departure in 1984 ("Colts fans will never forget the day their beloved team left Baltimore, 30 years ago," March 28).
Today's Ravens fan should never take for granted committed local ownership coupled with steady, capable management. By contrast, the Baltimore Colts franchise was an utter shambles by 1984.
Former governor and Baltimore City Mayor William Donald Schaefer was, at best, a casual sports fan. Far more than most, however, he grasped the tangible and intangible benefits that professional sports franchises brought to Baltimore and to Maryland.
By 1984, the Bob Irsay soap opera was reaching its climax. A once-respected franchise had spiraled downward hopelessly. Mr. Irsay was calling plays and alienating fans and draft choices alike while openly shopping the team.
It was in that odd and frustrating context that Mayor Schaefer deliberately attempted to play the role of Mr. Irsay's one powerful friend and ally. There was nothing naive about that. It was his chosen, humbling, last-ditch tactic.
When Mr. Irsay finally pulled out, Mr. Schaefer stepped up. He took on an openly antagonistic NFL and fended off Redskins incursions. Most importantly, he cashed in a pile of political capital to both retain the Orioles and lay the groundwork for the return of the NFL.
Take a minute and remember the contributions of William Donald Schaefer the next time you take in a Ravens or Orioles game.
Lainy LeBow Sachs and Mark L. Wasserman, Baltimore
The writers are former aides to William Donald Schaefer.
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