As voting begins for the final 32 for the King of Baltimore Sports, I have been intently listening to this topic since the contest was announced two weeks ago. First, what a great idea that has spurred some wonderful discussion of sports history in Baltimore; it’s been fun listening and reading the debate. Kind of what sports radio should be–two guys on a barstool debating sports.
Now as we begin voting I offer this piece of advice: vote with your head not your heart. Remember this is a contest designed to pick the “King of Baltimore Sports”, not the king of baseball, soccer, lacrosse or football.
Case in point: I worked with Mike Stankovic when I worked in indoor soccer, shuttled him around to media interviews, was with him after playoff wins and losses, in good times and bad. I have so much respect for him as a player, coach and person. He was a great indoor soccer player. That being said, I can’t vote for him against Art Donovan, who I also have had the good fortune to meet and speak with on several occasions. Why? Simple, Art Donovan was a pro football Hall of Famer. He was the best at his position at that time, and the Colts and pro football mean more to this city than indoor soccer does. In this matchup Donovan is a bigger “king” than Stankovic.
Case two: When I was eight years old, my favorite quarterback was Bert Jones, right down to the blue number 7 jersey I owned. Bert was my favorite player and probably athlete, but there is no way I can vote for him over Brooks Robinson, even though I only saw Brooks play towards the tail end of his career. Brooks is a Hall of Famer and spent 23 years with the Orioles, winning 16 gold gloves and two world championships. Until Cal, he was Mr. Oriole, and in the grand scheme of things, Brooks was much more important, had a much longer career, and had a greater impact than did Bert Jones in Baltimore.
In short, do your homework, respect the tradition of the past, and vote with your head. Who do I think will win? In my mind the “King of Baltimore Sports” will by Johnny Unitas. Johnny U is the only player from this town who is still talked about nationally as the best to ever play his sport. He played in one of the most important sporting events in the history of the nation (the 1958 championship) and defined the modern day position of quarterback. Oh yeah, he also called his own plays.