'Killer' Goes After The Ball

January 23, 1994|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer Staff writer Marcia Myers contributed to this article.

Bobby Schulman's heart bled -- he was a good Baltimore boy -- when the Baltimore Colts abandoned his hometown in 1984.

"The Colts were the biggest thing in Baltimore when I was growing up," he says. "I was sick the day they left."

But as an attorney, Robert Barry Schulman had no problem defending Colts' owner Robert Irsay when the City of Baltimore sued Mr. Irsay over his midnight run to Indianapolis.

Mr. Schulman explains it this way: "I've represented contract murderers, dope dealers and The Block -- they all deserved a great lawyer. It's very hard to explain how a Baltimore boy who lived and died with the Colts could do such a thing. But the answer is: 'I'm a lawyer.' "

Today, this lawyer who helped Bob Irsay escape the litigious vengeance of William Donald Schaefer believes that if anyone can bring pro football back to Baltimore, it is Bob Schulman.

Although the New England Patriots slipped through his eager hands on Friday when a Boston businessman bought the team, Mr. Schulman and the five local investors he represents continue to pursue "three or four available teams."

The effort -- which reportedly involves the financial backing of H&S Bakery titan John Paterakis and four men all wealthier than Mr. Schulman -- began almost five months ago. If the group acquires a team and moves it to Baltimore, Mr. Schulman expects to be its attorney and one of the owners.

"We've been working day and night on this, and I kept it quiet for four months. Who could have done that? Nobody could have done that!" says Mr. Schulman, 46, from the offices of Schulman, Treem, Kaminkow & Glidden at the World Trade Center.

"This is more hard work than anything I've ever done, hundreds of hours of research alone just on law relating to football. If football is going to come back to Baltimore -- to Camden Yards -- this is the group to do it. There are only 30 of these franchises in the world. If we succeed, all of us would bask in the glory."

Glory, for Mr. Schulman, is not a subject for meditation. It's something to be pursued, relentlessly; something that is always at stake. "If I have to break through a wall to get somewhere, I'll do it," he says. "I've been that way in almost everything I've ever done."

This is a man who refers to attributes he admires in himself and others -- cunning, persistence, strength and verve -- as "killer."

"My 10-year-old son wants to be a lawyer, he wants to be a killer," says Mr. Schulman. "He wants to be everything. He's a killer!"

In other words, just like old man Bob Schulman, who in 1957, as a 10-year-old, urged his mother to step over the sidelines at Memorial Stadium and trip a Detroit Lions player who was racing for a touchdown that defeated the Colts.

Mr. Schulman is a guy who uses the word "aggressive" over and over to describe himself the way other people might say they were tall or witty or had curly hair.

He's a guy who depends on Joshua Treem, his more reflective partner, to rewrite his business correspondence because "my first draft is like a bullet in your heart."

In Bob Schulman's mind, gentle souls don't put biker drug lords named "Satan" behind bars or, as he did last week in a break from his football quest, win back strip-joint liquor licenses a few days after they were seized by an invasion of The Block's bars by 500 state troopers.

Nor do gentle souls land National Football League franchises.

"Our approach [to buy a team on the open market] should have been going on two years ago instead of waiting through the expansion process. I never believed the NFL would give Baltimore a team," he says.

"When the league gave that second team to Jacksonville, the governor was humiliated, the mayor was humiliated, Boogie [Weinglass] was humiliated. I hope I'm the avenger."

The would-be avenger was born the son of a Pikesville dry cleaner, the grandson of a Russian tailor who immigrated to America in 1904. Raised in Stevenson, Mr. Schulman graduated from Milford Mill High School in 1965 and went to the University of Maryland to study business.

He considers his first important victory to be the day he successfully resisted his father's attempt to woo him into the family business, Ruxton Cleaners.

"I was 17, and he was very passionate about it," Mr. Schulman remembers. "Dad always did very, very well in business and was about to expand. He thought it was too lucrative for me too pass up, but the money wasn't important to me. I always thought you had to enjoy what you do. I never wanted to be anything but a lawyer."

Mr. Schulman's road to the managing partner's desk at a private practice, where fees range from $140 to $250 an hour, began with a law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1973. His first break came through the late J. Gilbert Prendergast, a judge on what was then called Baltimore's Supreme Bench, now city Circuit Court.

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