Being I am only 26 years old I was not around to watch the colts play in Memorial stadium so what was it like?
Being I am only 26 years old I was not around to watch the colts play in Memorial stadium so what was it like?
There is a valid reason it was called the world's largest outdoors insane asylum!:D
In the late 50's thru the early 70's both the Colts and the O's had great ball teams and the fans were loud and enthusiastic. I have many fond memories of watching
Johnny U-Lenny Moore-Mike Curtis,et al play. On the O's side we had our 4 20 game winners and Earl Weaver!:D
Until the 70's we we were allowed to carry air horns into the stadium;and of course BEER!:ww::
There were some huge columns that made for obstructed views in some seats but they were few.
All in all,not a bad place,but certainly no Vault. Hope this gives you an idea of what it was like!
Memorial was a grand old stadium to watch the games. I spent much of my youth and young adult life there until the Colts left in 84 and then the O's moved downtown in 95.
It had a horseshoe shape with an open end. Sitting behind the end zone or behind home plate for baseball there were white row houses across the street. Sometimes they confused the hitters in baseball because the white ball blended in with the houses in the background. Arty Donovan and Don Shula shared one of those houses with 2 other teammates when they played here. Summer nights were nice and cool with the breeze coming in. Like mentioned above there were some concrete poles.
The upper deck extended up and outward unlike Ravens stadium where the seats go straight up making each seat much closer to the field than Memorial Stadium.
The noise was deafening at the closed end of the horseshoe. Teams hated coming in like they do now. The crowd was just as loud is it is now.
Back in the 50s we had a horse, a real colt named Dixie that rode around the stadium when the Colts scored a TD. It drove the opposition nuts because the Colts always scored often back then, unlike the Ravens. The Colts had a RB in the early 50s named Buddy Young who actually raced the horse and won.
Colts also had the NFLs original cheer leaders and one of the earliest marching bands. Barry Levinston just made a documentry called THE BAND THAT NEVER DIED.
Colts had the best QB of all time of course but also the greatest receivers like Ray Berry, Jimmy Orr and Lenny Moore who was also a RB and played some DB. We called the left corner of the end zone Orrsville cause Jimmy
caught so many TDs there from Unitas. Berry made the side line pass famous as he dived for the ball just inches from the sideline, no where for the DB to get a shot at it.
In 77 the longest play off game ever played was played there. It went to double OT. Bruce Laird intercepted a pass and ran 90 yds for a TD but Raiders won it on the Ghost to Post Play at the end. Madden called it the greatest game he ever coached in. It had everything, offense, defense and special teams. The could have kicked a FG to win it but had one more down so he went for the TD on a post pattern. It was called the Ghost to Post play cause the TE's name was HOF Dave Casper and his nick name was the Ghost so Madden put it in as the Ghost to Post Play. Stan White forgot to pick him up.
Colts also had great defenses like the Ravens setting records like these Ds do with stars like Bubba Smith who recently died, Arty Donovan, Gino, Bill Pellington was our Ray and Rick Volk was our Reed. They had no where near the speed or skills of those guys but hit just as hard. Pellington was called the Iron Horse because he played with a broken arm. He just stood at MLB and whacked RBs with his cast as they came thru. Can you see today's players playing with a broken arm? They can't even play with a bad toe. A WR named Eddie Hinton caught Unitas' last TD in Memorial and ran 70 yards on a broken toe. Ray Perkins who would later coach the Giants and hired Bill Parcells and someone named Bellichick scored a TD from Unitas on a broken toe.
Then there were the great Os with Brooks, Palmer, Boog, Frank Robinson, Davey Johnson and the guys - always winning. We were spoiled. Even before then we had great pitching called the Kiddie Corps of the late 50s and early 60s with Milt Pappas, Chuck Estrada and Wally Bunker. We
called the pitcher's mound Bunker's Hill-lol. We later traded Pappas for
the best hitter of the era - Frank Robinson who was the only player at
the time to win the triple crown in both leagues. Frank put us over the
top to win the series in 66.
As mentioned one year we had 4 20 game winners and still lost the World Series to, ugh, Pitt. We had the lead and only needed to win one more game but they came back and won it for their coach when his mom died and he refused to go to her funeral during the series.
Earl was a great manager but should have won more series than he did. He was once arguing with the umps and said, I'm the only one here going to the HOF to which an ump replied, what for Earl, for f*cking up the World Series.
Then there was Oriole Magic during the 70s and a new owner from DC we called EBW who said Baltimore was on trial this weekend. There was a 4 game series coming up and he was thinking about moving them to DC. Nearly all 4 games were sold out and the place was never the same again when you could walk up to the ticket window and buy a seat behind home plate for $5 for the world series.
It was the home of some of the best and worse baseball ever played. I lived a 20 min walk from the stadium and we hung out by the exits and knew guys like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra.
We knew where all the old Colts drank which was at Sweeneys and hung out there in front. They sent us on errands to buy their papers and cigs which kids could do back then. They'd give me a quarter and I'd get a pack of cigs and give it to them plust 15 cent change. Today it's $5.
A great place to watch any game including soccer when Pele the greatest soccer player in the world came here on tour.
I forgot to mention how different the parking was. It was the main reason why I hated the downtown stadiums.
Memorial was on 33rd St in a residential section. those folks didn't want the stadium going up originally with all that noise and traffic next door but it went up.
As a result, we never had to pay for parking. My brother and I always parked down by Mervo or the Library on the Alameda. Mervo was about a 10 min walk although some of my dates always bitched about always parking so far away. Hey man, I saved $2.50.
Moving downtown changed all that. Last time I went to a Ravens game a few years ago I paid $40 to park and that was a handi-cap space in front of the stadium. I bet it's almost $60 now. That's what it was to park at H lot for the tailgates 10 years ago. Don't know what it is now.
I just always liked watching the games in a residential neighborhood and now I never go down town for anything anymore. Parking at Mervo was next to Perring Parkway and I was up to Harford County within 30 mins w/o fighting all that downtown traffic.
Oh yea, I forgot the mention that Memorial was also used for high school games. Every Thanksgiving the City-Poly game was played there after the
Calvert Hall-Loyola game. It was a big deal with thousands of fans going to both games and it received national attention for so many at a hi school game on Thanksgiving.
It was a big deal and my dream to play in that stadium when I went to City but it never came true.
I only had the skills to play sand lot ball or so they say. The guy who beat me out at City for RB eventually scored 2 TDs vs Oklahoma in 1 game 4 years later in college. He was drafted by the Squeelers but was beaten out by someone named Franco Harris. That's the kind of competition I faced at City. Mayor Schmoke was our QB and later played for Yale. Most of the guys on that team played major college football including All American Tom Gatewood of Notre Dame who played for the NY Giants.
I'm only 24 but I remember attending a couple Memorial Stadium Raven games in 96-97 with my dad. He says I went to at least one O's game there too, but I don't remember that. A few weeks ago I was in the part of town where the stadium was and thinking it was an poor location for tens of thousands to assemble ~90 times a year. But on second thought it probably had more local personality than the new stadiums.
As far as location, yes, it was cool that Memorial Stadium was located in a city neighborhood, but that is far as it goes. M&T is in a terrific location that allows fans a wide variety of pre and post game activities: tailgate, Inner Harbor (touristy), or neighborhood bar (Federal Hill).
I loved the atmosphere inside of Memorial Stadium, but for the total game-day experience, I will take M&T downtown every day of the week, "and twice on Sundays".
Parking, and freeway access, at Camden Yards is significantly better. Moreover, proximity to the bars and restaurants at Cross Street Market/Federal Hill area, Light Stret, and Harborplace make the downtown come alive during Ravens Sundays.
Memorial Stadium was a shit-hole that was obsolete the day that it opened. I blame Irsay for being a jerk by stealing our team, but he was justified too, because of Memorial Stadium's shitty sightlines, obstructed views, inadequate parking, residential location, 2 pm starts, etc. Were it not for the dunb fuck Baltimore City politicians, esp Hymie Pressman, we would have had a retractible roof domed stadium at Camden Yards buit in the 1970s.
I was 6 when the Ravens came to Baltimore in 1996. What I saw there cannot be unseen.
I went there in the 70's as a young colts fan and have great memories. It was odd going to the Ravens games there after sitting in Camden Yards for several years. It was amazingly unfit for NFL football all of a sudden. When I started to drive, I always found parking in the neighborhoods. I once parked in a gas station there and had the stereo in my car stolen. Last time I did that.
For years I went to games and used to look out over the open end of the stadium and look up at those houses out there that seemed to look right into the field. Several years ago, I went to a dinner at one of those houses and realized that I was actually looking back down into what would have been the field but instead it was whatever it is now. It was an odd moment to think that 30 years ago I could have been down there looking up. Things change and we move on. M&T is an awesome venue that will build memories for my kids but growing up in Memorial was pretty cool too. I remember coming into the stadium often by bus and turning onto 33rd when you would first catch a glance of those mammoth black light towers lurching above the houses and you knew you were close. The excitment would really build at that moment.
Memorial was built for baseball not football. There was a corner of the endzone on the closed end that was pavement. You would never have that now. Imagine catching a diving touchdown pass only to land on pavement? The field had a baseball diamond in it that would kick up dirt and dust and make the footing unstable. You could always bet on some drunk running onto the field at one point during the game. I don't think that has ever happened at M&T that I am aware. Our season tickets were good seats. 40 yard line 20th row and were $10 a piece. 2 season ticket packages were less than $200. My grandfather would buy me a coke and piece of pizza and himself a Pabst upon entrance each game. I think it cost him less than $5. ....and the game was always just as exciting.
I have alot of thoughts on what Memorial was like and I'm still sorting through them. For now, I think one of the best ways that I can say what Memorial was like is to compare it to M&T and OP&CY thusly:
When you go to M&T or OP&CY, you go to see a show. When you went to Memorial, you went to see a game. Not as many blinking lights, the sound system wasn't and couldn't have been anything near what the newer stadiums have, and obviously hi-def scoreboards weren't around like that then.
But there was so much more to Memorial.
I got to walk on the field just before they tore it down. The O's were long downtown, the Ravens were about to move downtown, and the Baysox stadium in PG was going to be open the next season.
When you walked around it, it didn't look like much, but I stopped to think. John Unitas, Cal Ripken, Gino Marchetti, Eddie Murray, Lenny Moore, Jim Palmer, Art Donovan, Brooks Robinson, all played HOF and legendary careers on that field.
The Baltimore Stallions were the only American team to win the Grey Cup; they did it on that field.
And now when I look back on it, Jon Ogden and Ray Lewis started their HOF careers on that field.
Generations of high school football players from City, Poly, Calvert Hall, and Loyola, all played on that field every Thanksgiving in some of the longest high school football rivalries in the country.
M&T hosts those high school games now. JO and Ray will be more associated with M&T at the end. The Ravens won their only SB playing at M&T.
OP&CY is a legendary ballpark on its own, regardless of what the O's have or haven't done or will or won't do in it.
The stadiums are located downtown, convenient to the Inner Harbor. They've put hotels around it. U of MD has expanded in the community. I talked to a guy who lives nearby on Hanover St. and he paid 100k for his house and it's now worth more than 300k. So the city has benefitted from having the new stadiums.
They're right near the highway and train lines and so it's easier to get in and out of there and get up to Harford or down to Glen Burnie, or wherever one might live.
Yet, I could see the lights from Memorial from my house up off of the Alameda, when games were going on. I could listen to the TV from my living room. I always felt like I was never too far from the ballpark. How far away could you hear chants coming from the stadium?
I honestly believe that a neighborhood ballpark like Memorial is an important ingredient in the passions for the teams that played there. It didn't have highway access or light rail or the MARC train nearby, just the 3, 22, or 36 buses. If you drove, you had to park in the neighborhood and walk to and from the stadium with fellow fans. Talk to neighbors sitting on their porches. You were tailgaiting in a neighborhood, not necessarily near all the industrial stuff off of Russell Street.
It was definitely for a different time. I love going to the new stadiums, but Memorial will always be extremely special to me. I sometimes go on YouTube and watch old BALTIMORE Colts yearly recaps with Chuck Thompson so I can see the old girl and I can hear the voice I still most associate with Baltimore sports.
If you lived through some of that, you were really fortunate.
And before I forget, IIRC, the stadium was originally built as a horseshoe and was built for football (the original AAFC BALTIMORE Colts predate the O's). Renovations made it into more of a circle and into the all-purpose configuration we all most remember.
The original Memorial stadium had no fences for baseball, just the hedges. And the baseball foul territory was shrunken via renovation to add more lower row seats. But the football configuration was not changed, that I am aware of. Perhaps the bleacher type seats which were added after baseball season were a renovation - don't know for sure. But the major renovations did not make Memorial Stadium into more of a circle, i.e. adding the upper deck in 1953 for the Orioles arrival, then subsequent expansion of the upper deck for more sidelines seating for Colts games did not alter the basic configuration.
Perhaps what you are referring to as renovations was the replacement of the first stadium on that site by Memorial Stadium. It happened over time, as baseball and football operations continued while the original Venable (or Municipal) Stadium was being demolished, simultaneous with the then-new Memorial Stadium being constructed in phases.
Municipal Stadium, which was was built in 1921 at Venable Park, was a major East Coast venue for big-time college games including Army-Navy, Navy-Notre Dame, Terps games, and the original AAFC Baltimore Colts:
Municipal Stadium was pretty crude: wooden benches over dirt mounds. It was not suitable for NFL or MLB teams. The City flirted with building a domed stadium designed by Glenn L Martin during WW2, but, in typical Baltimore "let's do-it-cheap-and-inadequate" fashion, copycatted the design of Cleveland's already-near-obsolete Municipal Stadium, to construct Memorial Stadium, replete with columns obstructing views and on the same site - miles from freeways, as the old Venable/Municipal Stadium.
I believe what you are referring to to as a "renovation" is actually the side-by-side demolishing of Venable/Municipal Stadium and simultaneous construction of Memorial Stadium, over 1947-1950. Here are some photos:
The open end of the horseshoe of the stadiums was reversed, but the basic orientation between 33rd Street and the houses in center field remained the same. I agree that Memorial was a bit more oval than Municipal, but that's only from photos, since I don't think any of us were around to attend games there.