On March 6th, I attended Corralin’ The Colts at Martin’s West. The event was a fundraiser for Fourth & Goal, which is an organization run by former Colt Bruce Laird, that helps former players with medical bills among other things.
The special guests were all members of the 1975-1977 Baltimore Colts teams, that won three straight divisional titles, only to be knocked out of the playoffs.
Among them were Laird, Stan Smith, George Kunz, David Taylor (a fellow Catawba College alum), Lydell Mitchell, Ted Marchibroda and Bert Jones.
If you read my past blog on Jones, you know I’m a huge fan of his. In fact, he was my first sports hero when I was six and seven years old. I would have paid $60 to see him in a store autograph session by himself.
When I walked in, I saw the line of people waiting for his autograph. I immediately took my place. There was nothing more important to see until after I got his autograph. After all I’ve waited almost 35 years to get it.
When it was my turn, I told him that he was my first sports hero, and that I used to carry his card around with me everywhere I went. I also told him, I still had the card but couldn’t find it the night before. He was very gracious and humble about it. When I asked if I could take a picture with him, his response, was “My pleasure”.
The person right before me in line asked for a picture, and the person taking it didn’t know how to work the flash on the camera he was using. Instead of being annoyed and shuffling the guy off, he showed the person how to work the flash and took another picture.
I just turned 40 a couple of weeks ago and after I met him, you would have thought I was a 12 year old girl meeting Justin Bieber.
I met Cal Ripken (my other hero) about five or six years ago and I was nowhere near as nervous. Maybe it’s because Bert was my first hero and that made it even more special.
It’s great when you meet guys you’ve put on a pedestal for so long and they live up to the idolatry. Both Bert Jones and Cal Ripken did that.
The rest of the event was fantastic. There were panel discussions, NFL Films video highlights, silent auctions and a ton of food.
Watching the video highlights was great for me. Being so young, at the time, I don’t remember much about the games or teams.
I had forgotten how great a scrambler he was. And it seemed like he had to be helped off the field after every play. I know the injuries started mounting later in his career, cutting it short but, from the way he played, I’m almost surprised he lasted as long as he did.
During his portion of the panel discussion, he showed his sense of humor. The first question the MC asked was about a blow out loss the Colts suffered. In his Louisiana drawl he berated the MC and then fired him. In fact I think he fired him twice.
A bit later he decided that David Taylor, and his girlfriend had been ducking getting married for too long. So he asked one of the other former players to marry them right there, and held an impromptu ceremony. It wasn’t a legal wedding but it was funny.
It must be really cool for these guys, to come back to Baltimore, almost 35 years later, and see how much they still mean to the fans and community.
The entire event was great but getting to meet Bert Jones was one of the best sports related moments of my entire life. Probably the best one