First, the sound of shrill bird calls pierced the misty downtown air, startling hundreds of fans who made their way along Pratt and Howard streets, having left last night's Orioles victory over Detroit a few minutes early.
Then, about 10 minutes later at 11: 23 p.m., came another sign that the NFL has come back to Baltimore.
From several vantage points on and around the Baltimore Convention Center, the black, purple and gold helmet design of the Ravens was unfurled for the masses to see.
The sight was accompanied by cheers, applause and a few explosive fireworks. Complimentary Ravens T-shirts were passed out to eager recipients, some of whom engaged in tugs-of-war for the prizes. Within minutes, dozens of youngsters were milling about, making an immediate fashion statement.
Then, the judges spoke.
One of the more popular features of the helmet design seemed to be the letter "B," set off by a wing and displayed boldly under the team's moniker. Obviously, there is no doubt about which city this team represents.
"It's pretty cool. I like the 'B,' said Tim Dignan of Hampstead. "Separate Baltimore and D.C. That's the way it should be."
Baltimore resident Bill Childs was just as emphatic.
"I really like the fact that it's got the 'B' displayed so prominently, like the Orioles are so unwilling to do," he said. "It surprises me that they've displayed it like that. It looks good."
Bill's wife, Mary Ann, liked the design the more she studied it.
"From far away, I didn't like it," she said. "Up close, I like it. I like the colors a lot."
When the helmet design was unveiled, Hampstead resident John Brown gave it a thumbs-up.
"These guys aren't going to do anything halfway," Brown said. "I think this is going to be the best-dressed team in the NFL."
Pub Date: 6/05/96