Baltimore Colts once called Towson's Campus Hills home

Rarely is a team, or its city, connected to one seminal moment in the way the Baltimore Colts are connected in so many minds with the 1958 NFL Championship game at the New York Giants, known as the "Greatest Game Ever Played."

On the cusp of Super Bowl XLVIII, which is back in the New York metro area at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, one Campus Hills resident would like to see his Towson neighborhood memorialized as the community where several Colts greats from that era called home.

Scott Van Horn, a Towson resident who grew up in Campus Hills and lives in Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas former house, said he plans to apply for a historical marker through the Baltimore County Historical Trust.

Campus Hills, which borders the eastern and southern edge of Goucher College along Goucher Boulevard and Providence Road, was built in the mid-1950s. Its proximity to Goucher, where the Colts used to practice, and its status as a marquee new community drew the team's stars.

Several other Colts set down their roots in Campus Hills, including a player who starred alongside Unitas in the Dec. 28, 1958 championship game.

Van Horn recently learned from a high school classmate that Heisman Trophy-winning running back Alan Ameche, who scored the Colts' winning touchdown in overtime of that game, lived on the same block as Unitas.

Ameche and teammates Gino Marchetti and Joe Campanella — also both Campus Hills residents — opened Gino's Burgers and Chicken together, and the chain grew to nearly the same iconic level as those Colts teams. Campanella and Marchetti coached the neighborhood's youth football team.

Bob Hughes, spokesman for the Baltimore County Public Library system, lived for a year in Campus Hills during the Colts heyday. He said that one afternoon, he decided to go introduce himself to Unitas, who lived a few houses away.

The quarterback invited him down to his trophy room and talked to Hughes for two hours, never once seeming like he was put out by the visit.

"In retrospect, the neatest thing about it all was the fact that we were in the middle of all these Hall of Fame football players and interacting with them or their families almost daily," Hughes said. "We never thought anything of it, that's the way it was. The very first time you met one of them, you went 'wow.' Then the wow factor was over and they were just your neighbor."

Hughes said he supports commemorating Colts history in the neighborhood.

"I would love to see that because it was literally one neighborhood in 10,000," Hughes said. "I can't imagine anywhere else where so many future Hall of Fame NFL players lived at the same time in the height of their careers."

"Colts tradition is being lost as time passes," Van Horn said. "There wouldn't even be a Baltimore Ravens if it wasn't for the Baltimore Colts."

Van Horn said he spoke recently to an aide of Councilman David Marks, and they talked about how to properly recognize the neighborhood. Marks said the county typically does not rename roads, and designating the entire neighborhood as a historic district would require residents to agree to the stipulations that come along with the title.

The easiest way to honor those Colts, Marks said, would be a historic marker.

"That's a neighborhood I have a personal connection to, and I think a historic marker would be very appropriate for that area," said Marks, whose wife grew up in Campus Hills.

Marks said the Baltimore County Historical Trust has a grant program that can subsidize the cost of a historic marker, which typically costs about $1,000. Applications for the grant are available in February, Marks said.

"They would have to do some research, but that shouldn't be difficult to find out," Marks said.

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