The unknown Unitas

The book suggests that Unitas' high school coach, Max Carey, instilled in his young quarterback the idea that while Unitas could have fun, he couldn't be just one of the boys.

Stories bring comfort
There are so many other stories, many that will be repeated Sunday at the Sports Legends Museum and many that Sandy Unitas has heard over and over. She doesn't tire of them, though. It's been four years now since her husband died. If you've ever lost a loved one, you know that one of the biggest fears is that he or she will be forgotten.

"It's very comforting to hear people come up and tell me whatever they remember, where they met John, what he said to them, everything," Sandy Unitas said. "We're so fortunate in that way. Sure, it brings up some of those feelings - the hurt, you know - but overall, like John used to say, 'You take the good with the bad.'"

I love hearing the stories. I love any portrait I can get of this romantic Baltimore that Brooks and Johnny U presided over. I guess that's why there was one passage from Callahan's book that stuck with me. It's a quote from Joe Montana. "Talking to Johnny U," he said, "listening to his experiences, almost made me wish I had played in the fifties."

Hearing the stories, seeing how fans' faces light up at the mention of Unitas' name, it has a way of making all of us wish we were back in a different time. Maybe back at Wrigley Field. Maybe watching that kid amble on the field and make his way toward the huddle for the first time. That day he'd throw an interception - and a touchdown, too - and lose the game.

Then he'd go on to change football - and Baltimore - forever.
Remembering Johnny Unitas

When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sports Legends Museum, 301 W. Camden St.
Who: Panel features Hall of Famers Raymond Berry and Lenny Moore; Sandy Unitas, wife of the late Johnny Unitas; and Tom Callahan, author of Johnny U.
Cost: Program is free with paid admission to the museum, or with purchase of the book Johnny U. Limit 175 people.

rick.maese@baltsun.com

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