Taking loyalty on the road

Seeing away game is a first for four longtime Ravens fans

The Scene

Ravens Gameday

October 01, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

CLEVELAND -- Mark Kloch has been a Ravens season-ticket holder since the team came to Baltimore from this Midwest city in 1996, accompanying his brother Steve to games at Memorial Stadium and M&T Bank Stadium.

Until yesterday, the Klochs had never seen the Ravens play away from home.

Just like the fraternity brothers from Delta House, the Klochs and their friends Evan Kelley and Don Blair got together last spring and uttered those famous words: "Road trip." By their choice of destination, some might think that this fearless foursome was a tad masochistic.

As their plane flew over the city Saturday afternoon, Blair turned to Kelley.

"The forecast is bad for tomorrow," he said.

"It is?" said Kelley, looking out the window at the brilliant blue sky.

"Yeah," Blair deadpanned. "Purple reign."

But the question begs to be asked: Why Cleveland, the Ravens' ancestral home and a place that clearly still has a disdain for all things Baltimore?

"There were plenty of tickets available," said Kelley, who lives in Preston and works at a pharmacy in Easton.

There also was plenty of abuse to be taken from Browns fans.

As they walked from their hotel to Cleveland Browns Stadium, one fan chastised them for "stealing our team." There were, according to Mark Kloch, "a lot of drive-by boos."

But once they got to the stadium, there were only a few expletives and not a lot of electricity.

"There's not a lot of intensity," said Blair, who builds elevators for Otis.

After all those years watching games in Baltimore, why did it take so long to see the Ravens on the road? For Steve Kloch, it had a lot to do with the fact that he and his wife run an independent pharmacy in Federalsburg that's open on Sundays until noon. Kloch has rarely missed a kickoff on television, but going on the road was always an issue.

"I finally got up the nerve to ask my wife to take three days off," Kloch said.

For Kelley and Blair, who are a generation younger than the Klochs, it was a matter of finances. Even going to home games is expensive. "The tickets for this game were around $80 each," said Kelley, who said he bought the upper-level tickets on eBay from a Browns fan.

For Mark Kloch, who works for an air freight company near BWI Marshall Airport, it was, well, he wasn't quite sure.

"I never really thought about it," he said.

Yet there they were, standing outside the stadium yesterday in their Ravens jerseys, an occasional fellow purple-clad fan offering quiet support. Steve Kloch tried his hand at throwing a football through a hole of a mock Browns receiver. He kept throwing high.

"Are you Kyle Boller?" a Browns fan sneered as he walked by.

Kloch eventually would hit three straight. As another Browns fan walked up to try, Kloch had his comeback.

"Move back," he said, "and hand off."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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