This isn't the first time Frontiere has thought of moving her Rams here

January 24, 1994|By John Steadman

Right there, outside the visiting owner's box in Busch Stadium, there was this blonde knockout who threw her arms around an ancient sportswriter and gave him a hug and a kiss. Wow.

"And what are you doing here, Johnny?" she asked on that fall day in 1987. It was explained the St. Louis Cardinals would be leaving for another city and Baltimore was a possible new location.

"Well, I'll just move my Los Angeles Rams to Baltimore," explained Georgia Frontiere, owner of the franchise. She went on to say how much she enjoyed the city and being around the Colts team that her late husband, Carroll Rosenbloom, once owned.

Rosenbloom in 1972 had traded Bob Irsay the Colts for the Rams, then a premier club in the National Football League, so he could be a part of the glamour of Hollywood and the opulence of Beverly Hills.

It would be interesting to know how Carroll would have reacted if he could have seen Georgia kissing one of his not-so-favorite reporters right there before the kickoff in St. Louis. The only woman to own a team in the league since Mrs. Walter Wolfner in the 1950s also provided a strong statement. Yes, the Rams were coming to Baltimore. She said so.

We quickly went to work in the press box putting it all together and were five paragraphs into a column that would have, as the old movies reminded, "broken this city wide open." Los Angeles, too. Then came a polite tap on the shoulder. A Rams official (it may have been John Shaw) told us what Georgia suggested doing -- the Los Angeles to Baltimore switch -- wasn't about to happen.

Now it might. The Rams' Frontiere and Shaw, the vice president, agree they like Baltimore. By the calendar, it's more than six years since Georgia first introduced the thought on a November afternoon in St. Louis.

Then one of her employees advised, in a helpful sort of way, that to go public with such a report would embarrass everyone concerned, meaning the Rams, the NFL, the cities involved and any newspaper that published such a preposterous plan.

For an update, it can be reported Georgia again wants to come to Baltimore. And she has an ally. His name is Shaw. It took time but he has obviously come around to his boss' line of thinking. It only goes to prove Georgia had more perception than the entire NFL, including then-commissioner Pete Rozelle, who later heard about her remarks and was rendered speechless.

The Rams, with regards to Baltimore, are concerned about only one thing: Will Jack Kent Cooke, another lucky stiff who also has gotten a kiss or two from Georgia when they've met, sue the Rams for invading what the NFL constitution allows him to claim as his Washington Redskins' territory? Cooke, eccentric but a genius, hasn't said what he's going to do.

It's the threat of a Cooke lawsuit as he moves closer to building a new stadium in Laurel that freezes the Rams or they may have already announced the cross-country transfer of the franchise.

However, the Rams know with the earthquake devastation of last week they can't allow themselves to be portrayed as getting out of town and leaving so much heartbreak behind in the aftermath of what has happened to one of America's great cities. And the NFL, which has so little heart, doesn't want that to occur -- the Rams deserting L.A. -- because under present commissioner Paul Tagliabue it has such a low regard for Baltimore.

When her late husband had the Colts, Georgia always looked forward to Saturday morning practice sessions at Memorial Stadium. She never got involved in the blocking, tackling or covering kickoffs but she was John Unitas' second favorite pass receiver. He seemed to have Raymond Berry first on his preferential depth chart. But Georgia would always catch some of Unitas' spirals at the end of the workout, as Carroll cheered.

Another particular Georgia favorite was Lenny Moore, the highly productive ball carrier who could turn an inch of daylight into a touchdown any time his signal was called.

Georgia had an eye for talent; after all, Unitas and Moore both have their bronze likenesses in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

We're told she still talks about Unitas, Moore and, of course, Baltimore. Georgia, let it be known, always gets what Georgia wants.

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