Right now, I feel pretty lucky. I’m old enough to remember what it was like to have the Baltimore Colts play some pretty great games at Memorial Stadium and the original Orioles Magic that eventually carried the Birds to a World Series Championship in 1983. But I’m young enough to experience this year’s thrill with my 8-year-old son of both the O’s’ and the Ravens’ incredible seasons. I feel like I am reliving the excitement from my own youth all over again as he experiences postseason play in October and, now, in January and February.
One thing I continue to stress to my son is that this spirit in and around Baltimore is pretty special. The love that we had for the Orioles and Colts so many years ago is just as strong as ever today -- still for the Orioles but now for the Ravens.
“Is it like this in other towns?” He asked the other day.
“No,” I said immediately. “Baltimore fans have a connection with their teams that is really special.”
“Why don’t the other towns have a connection?”
“They have one," I said, "but it’s just different here.”
I began to wonder if I was the only one who felt that way. I decided to use social media to see how others felt about Baltimore’s love affair with its sports teams, and I was overwhelmed with responses. Here are just a few of the comments I received.
Our Teams Are Unified, Have Heart, and Never Give Up
We’ve all seen what happens when players are in it just for the money. I think it’s because of the mindset of John Harbaugh and Buck Showalter that the word TEAM transcends the individual goals of other players, and everybody buys into that concept.
Sandy from Naticoke writes that our teams set the tone of pushing through adversity, together. “I love our teams because no matter whether we are down in the game or we are down in life, they show us to just keep fighting, to do our best no matter what. They show us unity.”
Colin from Ellicott City adds that the loyalty of the fans leads the way with their own unity. “Baltimore is a sports town that comes together no matter how their team is doing. They have a devotion to the Ravens which is unlike any other team in the NFL. Through thick and thin, the fans of Baltimore stick by their team!”
Marty from Cockeysville notes that our teams are “scrappy.” Personally, I couldn’t help seeing the parallel between the Ravens and O’s with the citizens of Baltimore. “The reason we love our teams here in Baltimore is because both teams have heart. If it looks like they are down and out, and everyone else is saying so, that seems to energize them and make them work harder. They're both scrappy, and that's what we love so much about them.”
Our Players Are Community-Minded
Buffy from Ellicott City believes that the community spirit has deep roots in Baltimore. “Baltimore fans appreciate the past, take great pride in the present, and are inspired by the future for the Ravens and Orioles – both as sports franchises and community-minded teams and individual players.”
“The teams are just awesome bunches of individuals,” adds Kyle, also from Ellicott City. “They always look like they are having fun playing their sport, unlike other teams that look more corporate. They also invest a lot in the community with charity and outreach events, which is always nice to see. And both the Ravens and the O’s have great team chemistry. Nobody is ever bad mouthing another member of the team or shifting blame for a loss.”
Baltimore Loves Its Teams
James moved to Seattle some time ago, but he recognizes the clear difference between Baltimore and other sports towns. “I'm a Baltimore native but now a Seattle local. Seattle supports its sports teams, but Baltimore *loves* them. The type of love and devotion that Baltimore shows its teams can be compared to the love for a child, spouse, or parent. I'm not at all a sport fan; however, even I found myself getting caught up in the collective joy in a recent trip to Baltimore.”
Kelly from Lutherville believes that the pain Baltimore felt in losing the Colts in the 80’s made us all a little more appreciative. “I think we have always loved our teams, but having lost the Colts, we learned to really appreciate what we have. Absence made the heart grow fonder.”
Richie from Nottingham has been to many stadiums around the NFL and says there is no comparison with Baltimore fans. “Passionate is the best word to describe all of the Baltimore Ravens fans. I have been to professional football games in Miami, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, and those fans pale in comparison to Ravens fans. The stadiums are much quieter, the stands empty out much earlier, and there is always a lack of fellowship. When not at the stadium, the excitement of the fans can be heard through the announcer's microphones, whether the Ravens are winning or not. That's passion!”
“Orioles’ and Ravens’ love runs deep... something we constantly carry with us in spirit,” writes Dayle from Lutherville. “It’s part of Baltimore believing and helping to bring out the BEST in all of our team players! Any doubters can just listen to ‘O’ur National Anthem. Our fans always represent around home as well as across the country. Couldn't be more proud of our orange, purple and black!”
What I am trying to instill in my son is a sense of appreciation for what we have in Baltimore. Since he was three, the Ravens have made it into the playoffs every year. And this year, with the Orioles playing in the postseason as well, it’s easy to believe, at that young age, that we’ve always been so fortunate in our winning ways.
Maybe Jean from Hydes captures most accurately what I want my son to understand as the Ravens head to the Super Bowl. “We have a yearning for the return of magic... the winning O's we grew up with... the Colts we lost....the years we had no football team at all. When our Ravens came, we embraced them like a divine opportunity to bring the magic back to Baltimore. And it seems they truly have.”