Baltimore Sun readers recall the Colts' move to Indianapolis
Mar 27, 2009 at 3:00 AM
Browse photos of the Colts leaving Baltimore for Indianapolis in the middle of the night on March 29, 1984.
"From 1972 to 1983 I was part of the Baltimore Colts Radio team. At WCBM, I produced and directed the Baltimore Colts football play-by-play broadcast for the 40-station Colts Radio network. Before all games, home and away, I hosted the "Coaches Corner," a 15-minute pre-game interview program with the team's head coach. The coaches included Howard Schnellenburger, Joe Thomas, Ted Marchibroda, Mike McCormack and Frank Kush.
I also hosted "Monday Night Live," a sports call-in show that was broadcast first from "The Flaming Pit" in Cockeysville, later from the "Baby Doe Mining Company" in Towson, and lastly from "The Golden Arm." The show featured former Colts Art Donovan and Ordell Braase at the Flaming Pit, John Unitas and Bobby Boyd at the Baby Doe, and Unitas and Donovan at the Golden Arm.
However, it was in my role as a morning drive-time news anchor at WCBM that remains as vivid as though it was yesterday.
March 28, 1984, was a cold, snowy morning. At 4 a.m., I was driving to the WCBM studios in Owings Mills where overnight writers learned a move was under way. The moving vans were loading and departing the Colts Complex which was only a few miles from WCBM. Once I arrived at work, the move was almost complete.
As the Colts' station, Baltimore radio listeners came to WCBM for their Colts news. As they awoke that morning, I had to broadcast the news that their team was gone.
From the phone calls we received, most listeners were stunned. Many refused to believe the news we were reporting. When the last Mayflower van pulled out of the complex, I remember slamming my fist on the studio desk realizing that a big part of my life was gone ... all we had were the memories ... the fabric of our community had changed."
-- Dave Humphrey
"As a long time Baltimore Colts Fan And season ticket holder I was shell shocked. I did not believe the NFL would ever let that happen. I wanted to blow the tires out on the Mayflower vans."
-- Bob Weltner
"I have many memories of the Baltimore Colts leaving since I worked there! So, I not only lost my job but my friends, too. That night I was suspicious of something because all the coaches were still in the office and because it was off-season, they normally wouldn't have been there that late. But I remember sitting on the floor the next day getting my last paycheck; everything was gone ... not a piece of paper or a trash can was left. People were crying in the halls. Many personal items were gone ... they were just put into cartons and sent on the trucks to Indianapolis. It was a very sad time."
-- Ronni Swartz
"The night the Colts left town, I was 12 at the time and remember watching Channel 13 news with my grandmother and grandfather (both huge Colts fans). I don't think I had a full grasp on what was happening as I watched the Mayflower trucks driving through the snow flakes and camera lights. My grandmother wept and my grandfather fumed as I sat there feeling sad for them, knowing something they loved so much was on it's way out of town. That was one sad, sad night.
I'm now a huge Ravens fan and can totally relate to how my grandparents must have felt. I just hope I never have to go through another one of those sad nights."
-- Brian Lease
"As an Upper Marlboro Maryland High School senior at the time of the Colts exodus, I was home in bed sick when my cousin, who worked as a vendor at Memorial Stadium calls me up and says "Turn on the TV or a radio. You are not going to believe this." When I turned on Channel 11 that day I felt heartsick, in addition to my illness. To think, "How could Robert Irsay do such a criminal act?" I've always wanted to see a Colts home game and my cousin had plans to treat me to one as a birthday gift that year of 1984. To see Mayor Schaefer cry that day I almost cried along with him and most of those who followed the Colts.The grand old days of the NFL died when the Baltimore Colts left that night ... but like the last words of Memorial Stadium: "Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.""
-- Eric. C. Glenn
"I was a season ticket holder then and even though I have lived in Jacksonville, Fla., for the last eight years I am still a Ravens season ticket holder and attend at least half the games with my son. That night was a total shock. Watching WBAL and seeing the news was like a bad dream. I still have my "Bob Irsay Sucks" T-shirt. What was worse was the next day when the radio stations were playing clips from Colts games. I will never forget driving home from work and one clip was "A bomb from Bert Jones to Roger Carr and a Colts TD." My wife asked if I was crying as she saw a tear running down my cheek. I told her only a true fan could feel that pain. I am sure there were thousands of tears flowing that day.The pain is still there but the Ravens have paid their dues to be Baltimore's team now."
-- Roy Schleicher
"I worked in the Colts press box on game days. I have two vivid memories of that time.
1) Finishing up work in the press box after the last game against Houston. I looked up on the scoreboard and they had a listing of the "Baltimore Colts 1984 Opponents." The Colts had just finished another bad season, and I remember thinking, "Oh well, there's always next year." There was, in Indianapolis!
2) On the night of the move, I was driving home from a Baltimore Skipjacks AHL hockey game in Hershey, Pa. We heard the report about what was going on at the complex, and I turned to my girlfriend and said, "They'll be back." How naive we all were!"
-- Mike Frainie
"I'll never forget. I was 19 years old. I woke up and it was snowing a little. I turned on the TV and Mayor Schaefer was on. I think he was outside his house. He was crying. Then they showed the Mayflower moving vans. I was absolutely stunned. I sort of knew it could happen, but I didn't think it would. I actually cried that day. All the memories of going to Memorial Stadium as a kid, watching Unitas and then Bert Jones, unfortunately Mike Pagel was the last. All those memories went in the vans with their equipment."
-- Paul V. McDonald
"Without a doubt, I can remember Vince Bagli, long-time sports anchor for WBAL, radio announcer for the Colts and overall nice guy, virtually beside himself on the news that evening. There may have been smoother sports anchors, but Vince lived and breathed the Colts and never seemed to have a cross word about anyone. He was so angry that night on TV. How out of character for him, but totally understandable. I am sure the Mayflower trucks will forever stir those memories for old Colts fans. But more indelible was Vince's sportscast that night for me."
-- Alan Ven Douern
"It was a very emotional time. I remember I would choke up every time I would here the old fight song played by the Colts Marching Band. The Colts were so much in the fabric of the times. I have lived in Westminster my entire life and remembered the days at Western Maryland College (which now I must call McDaniel) with training camp and drinking a cold one at Oz & Ginny's Pit where all the Colts would gather for R&R. As I look back on it now I see that the NFL is all about one thing and that is making as much money as possible. Don't get me wrong I am the biggest Ravens fan going but it is a business and a very well run one. They say time heals all wounds but when I hear that old song today I still get a tear for the old days. Oh yes, and I still slip up and call the Ravens the Colts much to the amusement of my kids. Memories are all we have but no one can move them out of town."
-- Bill Aldridge
"I was sad, hurt, felt betrayed. Like a girlfriend telling you: "We need to see other people." It's not you, It's me. Right? The city tried everything in vain. You saw the mayor, as close to begging as I believe that proud man could get. You hoped, you prayed but in the end you knew the deed was about to be done. They left in the middle of the night for God's sake! Stealing our team in the middle of the night. It was the end of an era. No more parking on 25th Street and walking to Memorial Stadium, watching what was once a proud franchise, turn into a piece of chattel offered to the highest bidder. Football was more to me then, it was different. I never watched a full football game again until the Ravens came. Then it slowly started again. I bought season tickets with my brother. Then when my daughter was old enough she came with me, always a special time, still is. So I guess this 61-year-old man came full circle. I'll never forget the news showing the Mayflower vans leaving in the middle of the night. Guess it was part of growing up, realizing the right things don't always happen because you want them to and hope that if you live long enough you won't see history repeat itself."
-- Gary Lowman
"That was the day that I lost all respect for the NFL and I have not watched a football game since that time. There was (and is) absolutely no reason why the NFL should have allowed the exodus to occur, especially with all of the Colts' memorabilia. I don't dislike the Ravens, I am simply ambivalent to the team. At least Cleveland was allowed to keep their memorabilia before Baltimore took their team."