All-Time Baltimore Team
News coming out of the organization has been thin this week, so let’s take a look at a few of Baltimore’s top sports players. Most of us that are from Baltimore can agree that we are the forgotten city. Places such as DC, Philly, and New York always seem to take our glamour. It’s okay though because we know our tradition and that we are one of the best cities in the country.
Their is no one even close that meant more to a team and a city as a hole than Cal Ripken, Jr. He was raised in the town of Aberdeen, Maryland just outside of Baltimore. His father, Cal Sr. spent 36 years in the Orioles organization. Ripken grew up an Orioles fan and always dreamed about wearing their uniform as a player. From a young age Cal was taught the Orioles way of playing baseball. Something he never forgot and always set out to achieve.
He will always be known as the Iron Man for his toughness and for breaking New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games play. Many believed Gehrig’s record was unbreakable, but 56 years later Cal surpassed it. A lot people doubt, including myself, that Ripkens record will never be broken. The game today has changes from the days when the Iron Man started out.
Cal Ripken, Jr. will always be the first person you think of when you think of Baltimore sports. He was the heart and soul of the city for such a long time. He loved the City of Baltimore and took a lot of pride in representing his city and team. One of the things I cherish most about Ripken is the way he took honor in wearing the Orioles uniform during the good and many bad years. Ripken to me will always be one of the most under-appreciated players in baseball.
Johnny Unitas is up next on the All Baltimore Team. He was the quarterback for the Baltimore Colts from 1956-1972. Unitas is arguably the greatest player to ever play the game. He still holds the record for throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, an amazing accomplishment. Although the Colt logo is now being worn in Indianapolis, he will always be a Baltimore Colt.
I was surprised to learn that a lot people didn’t know that Unitas was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was released before the season. The Colts gave him a shot when most other teams looked over him. He was the type of guy you could relate to and had to fight for what he wanted for. Johnny Unitas was truly a success story.
Unitas won his first MVP in 1957 leading the Colts to its first winning season with a record of 9-7. In 1958 Baltimore won their first Superbowl which some call the greatest game ever. Not surprisingly, Unitas is credited for the explosion of success in the NFL. He was truly a one of a kind player.
Unitas retired in 1974 after 17 successful seasons in the NFL. After retirement Unitas settled down in Baltimore to raise his family. He was always active in the communities and one of the major voices to bring football back to Baltimore. Once the Ravens landed in Baltimore, Unitas was frequently seen on the Ravens 30 yard line watching the game. Unitas later died from a heart attach during physical therapy in Timonium, Maryland on September 11, 2002. Unitas always loved Baltimore and we always loved him.
The rich history of Baltimore welcomed players such as Brooks Robinson, Raymond Berry, Jim Palmer, John Mackey and so many other great players. With the down years of the Orioles, the move of the Colts to Indianapolis and the Ravens still being a fairly young franchise a lot of people outside our city forget the players we produced. Guys such as Carmelo Anthony and Juan Dixon were raised in Baltimore. The city, by all means, is a rough area to live and grow up and it teaches you to be tough in all areas of life. We are just fine with people looking down on our city, because we always sneak up and shock the world. Baltimore as a hole is just like our sports teams, underdogs.