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Baltimore football and Westminster have a long history together

Certainly many people were disappointed when the Baltimore Ravens announced Dec. 2 that the team will not be returning to its McDaniel College summer training camp.

In a Carroll Eagle article that day on ExploreCarroll.com, Westminster Mayor Utz spoke for many, "It's almost a 50-year tradition that's being broken… That's the sad part about it."

The tradition and history of Baltimore football and Westminster first began when the newspaper announced ran on Feb. 11, 1949, "College Campus To Be Used By Colts … Coach Isbell Expects to Bring 55 Players to Train, Starting in July … Baltimore's football Colts are going to train at Western Maryland College this year."

The article in the now defunct Democratic Advocate continued, "Dr. Lowell S. Ensor, president of the Methodist school, and Walter S. Driskill, Colts general manager, have signed a contract providing for the city's All-America Football Conference squad to use the Westminster College's campus as a pre-season base of operations, it was announced…"

The history of football in Baltimore — and Westminster — can trace one of its lineages to the All-America Football Conference in 1946 and another lineage to the NFL in 1944.

The first football team in Baltimore began on Dec. 28, 1946, when the bankrupt Miami Seahawks franchise, of the All-American Football Conference, was awarded to Baltimore.

Just over two-years later, according to the 1949 newspaper article, Coach Cecil Isbell said he expected to take a Colt squad to Westminster, "We plan to begin practice about five weeks before our opening contest..." Driskill said in the article.

According to the article, Driskill, "cited a number of advantages in choosing Western Maryland. 'The school's facilities are ideal… and because Westminster is only 30 miles from Baltimore the fans will have a good chance to get acquainted with us…'"

On Dec. 8, 1949, the NFL and the AAFC merged, and the Colts started the 1950 Football season in the NFL.

On Jan. 18, 1951, the Colts went out of business and there was no football in Baltimore until Jan. 23, 1953, when it was announced that the Dallas Texans were moving to Baltimore. (Previously, the Texans were the Boston Yanks from 1944 through 1948.)

The Colts trained in Westminster from 1953-1971 and became legendary for their involvement in the community. I have fond memories of selling newspapers for the Baltimore Sun at practices in the 1960s.

The Colts relocated to Indianapolis by way of Mayflower vans in the middle of a cold night on March 29, 1984.

One door closes, another door opens. On Nov. 6, 1995, the Cleveland Browns announced the team would move to Baltimore for the 1996 season, and Westminster and McDaniel College once again became the summer training headquarters for Baltimore football … until Dec. 2, that is.

When he is not consoling his wife over the Ravens not returning to Westminster, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com

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