"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." - President Ronald Reagan
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I went to school and started my banking career in Baltimore. The crabs were great and the city loved their sports teams. Good seafood, a passion for sports, and I was right at home.
Today the Baltimore Ravens are a very successful franchise. They won two Super Bowl championships since the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996. In fact, no one younger than 40 remembers the team that used to play in the old Memorial Stadium on 33rd. Street. I remember watching an old Johnny Unitas and then Bert Jones lead a team that won the AFC East three years in a row. Those Colts had the misfortune of losing to the Super Bowl champ, twice the Steelers and then the Raiders. Nevertheless the Colts were fun to follow.
In the early 1980s, the Orioles were winning and the Colts were not selling out on Sunday. All of a sudden, there was talk of the team moving but nobody believed it. The Colts leave Baltimore? You kidding? We have an old-fashioned marching band and a fight song.
Back in the last week of March 1984, the unthinkable happened, as Brooklyn Dodgers fans said when the team moved to Los Angeles. Jim Irsay, the owner who had bought the team in 1972, had the movers pack up the offices in the morning while the city slept. It was a bit sneaky, to say the least. The moving trucks showed up when the city slept and the Colts were gone. Here is the story:
Rick Russell was having lunch at the Indianapolis Athletic Club on March 28, 1984, when a phone was brought to his table. It was Johnny B. Smith, Mayflower CEO and chairman. Russell, president of Mayflower's moving operations, had to return to the office immediately.
The Colts were coming.
Fourteen tractor-trailer trucks were dispatched to the Baltimore Colts facility in Owings Mills, Md. Drivers weren't told their destination until the next day: The soon-to-be-famous 600-mile trek to Indianapolis.
"It's probably the most famous sporting move ever," said Russell, 68 and retired in Longboat Key, Fla.
Back that day, I was working in Mexico City for a Maryland bank. The phone rings at 6 a.m. and I heard from a colleague from the bank. He said, did you hear? I responded half sleep, wondering if Mexico had devalued the peso again. He said no it's worse than the peso, the Colts are gone.
To say the least, there was little time for international finance that day. My telex machine was running all day with colleagues sending me the latest reports. No Internet or texts, only expensive long-distance calls and a telex machine that we used to do business with.
Thirty-nine years ago, the news was about the Colts leaving and nothing else mattered much. The unthinkable happened! And best of all, the bank president did not fire us for running the machine all day with Colts news.
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