Baltimore's best and worst

John Steadman

February 17, 1992|By John Steadman

Opinions, some old, new and even blue, on the parade of personalities, situations and conditions that have evolved in Baltimore sports:

Most gifted of all football players -- Lenny Moore.

Best boxer -- Joe Gans.

Wildest crowd scene -- The near riot that followed a Buffalo Bills-Baltimore Colts playoff game in 1948 at Memorial Stadium.

Best throwing arm in any sport -- Ken Wood/Y.A. Tittle.

Worst call by an official -- Ruling a field goal by Don Chandler of the Green Bay Packers "good," depriving the Colts of a chance to be the 1966 NFL champion.

Best scouting report -- The one assembled by scouts Jim Russo and Al Kubski before the Orioles beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in four straight World Series games.

Most dominating football player -- Gino "The Giant" Marchetti.

Foremost fan -- Wild Bill.

Smoothest PA voice -- Johnny Dark.

The best ever at what he did -- John C. Unitas.

Most talented baseball player -- Cal Ripken Jr.

Best publicity man -- Charley Johnson of Pimlico in the late 1950s. A profound knowledge of horse racing. Could write as well as he could talk.

Surest hands -- Brooks Robinson/Raymond Berry.

Best salesman -- Frank De Francis.

The teams we never got to know -- The Baltimore Stars; the Baltimore Claws.

Only park designed by an owner -- Eli Jacobs' creation known as Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The HOK architectural firm was merely a conduit; the overall plan was outlined by Jacobs. And you can take a ticket on that, if the owner will sell you one.

Worst owners -- A tie. Abe Watner and Robert Irsay.

Best owner -- Jerry Hoffberger.

Best owner the public never got to know -- Bob Rodenberg, founder of the Baltimore Colts, who is in love with life. And girls, too. He was the first man to not only believe in Baltimore's sports future but to invest in it.

The finest sportsman -- Zanvyl Krieger.

Most overrated coach in anything -- Clair Bee, once of the Baltimore Bullets.

Best coach/manager Baltimore ever had -- Earl Weaver.

Baltimore's greatest sports moment -- At 8:15 of the first overtime football game ever played, Dec. 28, 1958. The Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23-17.

Best all-around athlete -- Take your pick between Jim Mutscheller and Cal Ripken Jr.

Most exciting -- Claude "Buddy" Young.

Game that's easiest to forget -- Crusade Bowl.

Greatest crowd-pleaser -- Earl The Pearl.

Most imaginative stunt -- A real live colt losing a footrace to another Colt, Claude "Buddy" Young, in a 100-yard -- at Memorial Stadium.

Baltimore dates too often forgotten -- Sept. 24, 1974: Al Kaline collecting his 3,000th career hit. June 10, 1959: Rocky Colavito connecting on four consecutive home runs.

Most memorable hit -- By Frank Robinson when he became the only man to hit a ball entirely out of Memorial Stadium.

Fondest farewell -- Art Donovan's retirement speech at midfield.

Best performance by a returning hometown hero -- Bob Williams quarterbacking Notre Dame over Navy in 1949.

Greatest of all Baltimore-born athletes -- The Babe.

A memorable date that means much to Baltimore -- April 15, 1954, when the Orioles returned to the American League after a lapse of 51 years.

The sorriest of all dates -- March 28, 1984. The Colts were stolen away.

Best all-around athlete to perform in Baltimore -- Jim Thorpe.

Greatest college football game in Baltimore -- Army-Navy in 1944 that determined the national champion.

Most epic pro football game in Baltimore -- Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers in 1958.

Baseball's most impressive dynasty -- The Baltimore Orioles from 1919 through 1926. First place every time, or seven pennants in a row.

Worst decision -- To keep the Camden warehouse and, in the process, attempt to manipulate some media members and, in turn, try to make the public believe it has historical importance.

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