This past Monday, the city of Baltimore, and the state of Maryland, lost a true icon in city and state politics. William Donald Schaefer meant so much to many of the citizens of this state, where he served as mayor of Baltimore for 16 years, Governor for 8 years, and Comptroller for another 8 years. He dedicated his life to the people. And the people loved him for it.
One visual that I will always remember was seeing him, in a old-style bathing suit, in the seal pool of the then-brand-new National Aquarium. But, seeing things like that is what made the people love him. And he loved the people. He defended the city of Baltimore everywhere he went, especially when dealing with the city’s sports teams.
During his tenure as Mayor, Schaefer would engage in conflict with Robert Irsay, the owner of the Colts. Irsay demanded that improvements be made on Memorial Stadium. When that didn’t happen, Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis. It was a crushing blow to the city of Baltimore, and an even more crushing blow to Schaefer. But, he wouldn’t stop. And while Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore during Parris Glendening’s reign as Governor, the groundwork was laid down by Schaefer. He successfully assisted in engineering another NFL team to come here, as well as lead the way for Oriole Park at Camden Yards to be built (to ensure that the Orioles would not leave also). He knew how much the city loved its’ teams. And, once again, he fought to do something that make the citizens happy.
Making citizens happy. That’s what Schaefer did, even if he managed to make some other politicians upset. Projects like the Aquarium, Harborplace, the Light Rail, and more are just a few projects that help change the city. As far as sports is concerned, both the Orioles and the Ravens owe a lot of graditude to Schaefer. Take a minute to imagine Baltimore without the Orioles and Ravens. If it wasn’t for the dedication of William Donald Schaefer, we may have had to deal with no football on Sundays, and no baseball during the summer.
Rest in Peace “Willy Don!” And thank you for your 50 years of public service. The Baltimore sports fanatics are forever in your debt.