to see the past and envision the future.
Much like Walt Disney, I think Schaefer was a man of uncanny vision and there’s no doubt in my mind that even as Baltimore was without an NFL team during the construction and planning phases of Camden Yards in 1989-90-91 and what was then a baseball-only facility, he saw that we’d eventually need Parking Lot D on the southside of the complex for a football stadium for an NFL team. He might’ve even known they would eventually wear purple.
When many of us doubted — and in my case flat out said we’d NEVER get an NFL team in Baltimore, especially after the Charlotte/Jacksonville debacle, which Schaefer also witnessed and cried out loud in front of his entire constituency — he believed. You could even say he put the “BELIEVE” in Baltimore, too.
The Baltimore Ravens exist solely because William Donald Schaefer fought for their birth and let no museum, State Senator or huckster from a lobbyist group stand in his way or in the way of the city of Baltimore or the state of Maryland on his watch.
He famously hired Herb Belgrad to bring Baltimore the NFL ball and it never materialized on his watch but what also never materialized was a home for the Washington Redskins on the Maryland side of the fence. While then-Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke tried desperately to pit two states and one District against each other for a new stadium, Schaefer told him to pound sand when he tried to arm-wrestle his way into Anne Arundel County and Laurel with a new tee pee for the dreaded burgundy and gold. Schaefer famously told him that the state of Maryland would not build him roads into the facility because the Redskins weren’t coming anywhere near Baltimore.
Many south of Baltimore considered this heresy that the state of Maryland would turn down the Redskins!
But Schaefer — like a true visionary — always saw the Ravens. He always KNEW we’d get an NFL team again and he wasn’t going to allow anyone or anything to move him on the issue.
I was in Parking Lot D on that late November morning in 1995 when Parris Glendening tried to hijack the civic spotlight on the dais as Gov. Schaefer pulled into the lot and was forced to sit in the third row, off to the side at the ceremony. And when that fool Glendening held up a Cleveland Browns glass tankard with all of the disrespect of a bandit whose vapid nature didn’t even understand what everyone who ever loved the Colts knew — that this was Schaefer’s day and Schaefer’s team — it didn’t go unnoticed by anyone authentic who famously remembered how our then-Mayor felt the day the Colts were stolen from our community.
But Schaefer was the real article. And an authentically passionate and emotional man