Love story begins with one Super Bowl, continues at another

Overlea couple will get married in New Orleans the day before Ravens-49ers meet

Daisy Sudano and Jim Pellegrini

Daisy Sudano and Jim Pellegrini are planning to get married now that the Ravens are in the Super Bowl. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun / January 22, 2013)

This is what kind of roll the Ravens are on now: they've even inspired a love story. It's not a gauzy, Hallmark Channel tale, but a story of serendipity, fate and perseverance — and a football team at the center of it all.

It stars an Overlea couple named Daisy Sudano and Jim Pellegrini, who will travel to New Orleans next week and tie the knot the day before the Ravens play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

But if you're thinking it's the story of two crazy, love-struck kids about to get hitched in the Big Easy on a purple-and-black lark, think again.

Sudano is 44, a laid off executive assistant at a pool club. Pellegrini, 42, just started a company that transports boats, RV's and trailers around the country. They've been through plenty of life's ups and downs, including childhood cancer (Jim), unemployment woes and financial issues. Jim also has had several brushes with the law.

"Those troubles are behind me now," Pellegrini said. "I can promise you right now I'm a different person."

Their story begins on Jan. 28, 2001, when they went on their first date. This was at the big Ravens' Super Bowl party at the old Bohager's nightclub in Fells Point .

As die-hard fans, both were excited. The Ravens had made it to their first Super Bowl and were playing the New York Giants in Tampa, Fla.

But the date did not start auspiciously. Pellegrini rolled up in a Honda Civic that looked like something from the last row of the used car lot.

"Metallic green with black tinted windows," he recalled.

"I thought: 'Uh-oh, what have I gotten myself into?'" Daisy said.

At Bohager's, though, they hit it off. It helped that the joint was electric that night, packed with hundreds of fans screaming themselves hoarse for Baltimore's still new-ish football team. It helped that the Ravens were on their way to thrashing the Giants, 34-7.

It helped that the alcohol was flowing.

"She was absolutely great company," Pellegini said. "I was able to feel like myself right away."

When Jim dropped her off later in that snazzy Civic, Daisy was pleased to see her border collie, Dee Dee, take immediately to her date.

"When an animal likes you, that's a good sign," Daisy said.

By 2003, they were living together. The relationship could be tumultuous. They would separate for months at a time, get back together, fight. Then the cycle would start all over again.

Money was always tight. They went through periods of good jobs, bad jobs and no jobs.

"There were times when his family was like: 'Oh, just get rid of her.'" Daisy said. ""And times when my family was like: 'Just get rid of him.'"

'Lifelong companion'

But as the years went by, there was a growing sense that the two were destined for each other. Jim marveled that Daisy loved all the things he did: the Ravens, hiking, camping, fishing. And she wasn't one of those prissy types who hooked a trout, held it at arm's length with two fingers and pleaded: "Ewww! You take if off the hook!"

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