Front Row: '58 Greats Will Have Their Day
Edited by Larry Harris
It's official. There will be a 50th anniversary celebration in December of the "Greatest Game Ever Played" won by the Baltimore Colts over the New York Giants for the NFL championship Dec. 28, 1958. Details, however, are still sketchy.
Plans remain in the formative stage, and organizers are trying hard to get the NFL to join the occasion. Critics would assume the NFL should have initiated such a party, but that isn't the way things work in the league's what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mindset. Why the NFL Network wouldn't want to produce and broadcast such a momentous event can only be answered by the folks who run that show.
It is certain that there will be a rollicking affair Saturday, Dec. 27, at the club level of M&T Bank Stadium with proceeds going to several worthy local charities. The Robert Packard Center for Lou Gehrig Disease at Johns Hopkins, the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation and the Baltimore Football Club Inc. (Fourth And Goal) will share the profits.
Some 2,500 tickets at $150 are scheduled to go on sale in October. All surviving Colts and Giants -- there are some 35 of them -- have been invited with the Ravens volunteering to pick up transportation and accommodation fees.
The still-living members of the fabled '58 Colts who are able to travel will also be honored the next day, Dec. 28, when the Ravens close out their regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Organizers are searching for additional sponsors for the event, and various publications -- including PressBox -- and local broadcasting outlets are making plans to be involved.
One of the stars of the great game, Hall of Famer Lenny Moore, will turn 75 in November, and he feels relieved there will be some commemoration of the day that catapulted the NFL into its rise to become the most popular sport in the United States today.
"That is very nice," said the man who still looks as if he could take off on one of his patented end runs, flashing the unforgettable "spats" that marked his habit of taping over his lower legs and cleats. "I didn't know anything was going to happen. It was a long time ago, but it sort of turned things around in this league."
"My scariest moments in football," another Hall of Fame great, Green Bay cornerback Herb Adderley, once said, "was trying to close an edge when Lenny was on an end run. There was 300-pound Jim Parker pulling and leading him and all you could see were those black shoes and white tape flashing out on either side of Parker. All you could do was sacrifice your body and hope that someone could cut Lenny off."
Moore -- and few others, for that matter -- were not aware of it, but he is the lone member of what some wag has dubbed the "40-40 Club" in the NFL. It seems a big reach, but Moore (63-48) is the only player in league history to have scored 40 touchdowns or more, both rushing and receiving.
"That's interesting, extremely good to know," Moore said. "But you must remember we weren't very much into statistics back then. Now it's just great that the 1958 game will be remembered. I only hope and pray that all the guys who are still around can make it in December."
For the record, Marshall Faulk came closest to entering the 40-40 club. Now retired, that versatile back had 100 rushing touchdowns and 36 catching the ball. San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who broke Paul Hornung's long-standing single-season points record (186-176) two years ago, has 115 rushing touchdowns, but only 14 receiving. The most likely back to join Moore in this exclusive club is the Eagles' Brian Westbrook, who has 27 rushing and 23 receiving scores and is still in his prime.
LOSS IS NO END
The season ended last Saturday night for Crystal Palace USA, Baltimore's entry in the United Soccer League's Second Division, with a 2-1 second-round playoff loss in Charlotte, but co-manager Jim Cherneski's work is only beginning.
"We're disappointed with the loss, but this marks a start to a very exciting offseason," he said. "We have a very ambitious schedule lined up for our players, most of whom we are keeping in town. In addition to regular workouts, we'll be working with numerous local soccer organizations and schools to advance our program and expand our sales.
"We are definitely a Baltimore team, and we'll be back next season. Our organization has grown quite a bit over the past year. Our home field may well be at UMBC again, but that is an item to be decided later."
Cherneski was proud of his team's overall season and its final effort against the powerful Charlotte Eagles, who won the game with a head-first diving goal by 34-year-old Dustin Swinehart, the league's scoring champion.
FORD'S BIG DAY
Only a second-place finish by “Wild Thing” Kyle Busch in his Toyota marred a nearly perfect Sunday for Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan Speedway. Carl Edwards, he of the back flip, guided his Fusion to victory with some sizzling restarts late in the race and his Jack Roush Fenway teammates -- Dave Ragan, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth -- came in 3-4-5. The fifth Roush driver, Jamie McMurray, was 10th.
With just three races until the 10-race chase for the championship begins, the points competition is really tightening up -- only 103 points separate eighth place from 14th. The top 12 drivers get to race for the overall title. Busch, Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton currently occupy the top five spots. Fans with a lust for fender-banging will get their fill at the next race, Saturday night in Bristol. That half-mile track has historically been the site of some of NASCAR's most memorable dust-ups.
COPPIN A.D. READY FOR CHALLENGE
More than 30 years ago, Derrick Ramsey quarterbacked one of only two teams University of Kentucky history to win a Southeastern Conference title. He played nine years in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl ring in 1981 as a member of the Oakland Raiders. And now, after 10 years working in collegiate athletics, Ramsey has been named the new director of athletics at Coppin State University.
When introducing him Monday, Coppin State president Dr. Reginald S. Avery said the school was ecstatic to have Ramsey on board, noting his "great discipline and tenacity, which ultimately earned him great success collegiately, and in the NFL."
Ramsey, 52, most recently served as the director of athletics at Kentucky State from 1999 to 2003.
"Coppin State athletics has a rich tradition and history and I wanted to be a part of that success," Ramsey said. "There are a lot of challenges, but I’m very excited about the opportunity.”
WHEN GIANTS RULED THE HILL
Reader Clyde Falls, who once played some minor league baseball himself, was intrigued by a recent PressBox item noting the present dearth of complete games and asked about some particulars on a classic back in 1963.
On July 2 of that year, Hall of Famers Juan Marichal of San Francisco and Warren Spahn o