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When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore: A Father and a Son, a Team and a Time

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Overview

In this personal and moving book, William Gildea blends reminiscences of his boyhood in Baltimore with profiles of famous Colts players such as Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, Raymond Berry, Art Donovan, Y. A. Tittle, and others. Recalling his relationship with his father and the love they shared for a team, Gildea evokes the spirit of 1950s America, when professional athletes were workaday neighbors and community was more than a political slogan. This is a story, too, about the geography of the heart: why something so simple as a team can arouse such emotional attachments, how a group of players with horseshoes on their helmets could have been part of the generational glue between parent and child. Written with feeling and insight, this is an affecting tribute to a team and a time etched in memory.

Johns Hopkins University Press

In this nostalgic, adept, and often moving book, a Washington Post veteran writer mixes reminiscences of his boyhood in Baltimore and his relationship with his father and family with profiles of famous Colts players like Johnny Unitas, Y.A. Tittle, and Don Shula. Gildea evokes the spirit of 1950s America when major league sports players were hometown heros. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
Mr. Gildea's book is at once an elegy and a eulogy... In this volume, every word is from the heart.
Washington Post
When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore is more than just a sports compendium. It is a hymn, or perhaps an old fight song, for a city, a childhood, a whole simpler way of life that is gone from America as the Colts are gone from Baltimore.
Los Angeles Daily News
If you're looking for the sweetest, most nostalgic football book in a long time, check out When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore..
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pro football had a checkered history in Baltimore that began with a wobbly start in 1947. In 1953, a new team was brought from Dallas, the Colts, who, particularly after the acquisition of quarterback Johnny Unitas in 1956, became one of the best in the league. In 1958, the Colts won the championship in an overtime contest with the New York Giants that fans call the greatest football game ever played; 13 years later the Colts won Super Bowl V. Gildea, a sportswriter with the Washington Post who spent his Baltimore youth as a Colts fan, recaptures the optimism and joy of his early years in this warm memoir. After Unitas was traded in 1972, the Colts were good but not great. In 1984, a new owner moved the franchise to Indianapolis, hiring 11 trucks to accomplish the deed in the dead of night. Baltimoreans now refer to the team as the ``Indianapolis Vans.'' Photos. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In this poignant memoir, Gildea (Fighting Irish, 1976) blends memories of his boyhood in Baltimore during the 1950s with profiles of former Colts stars to produce a portrait of city life not unlike that once found in other pro football towns across America. Gildea skillfully interweaves his own reflections with those of the players (e.g., Johnny Unitas, Bert Rechichar, Art Donovan) to illustrate the bond between the town and team that was ultimately broken when the franchise moved surreptitiously to Indianapolis. In contrast to the modern era of free agency-where loyalties between owners and players seem nearly nonexistent-this work evokes a time when the home team often served as the "generational glue" for many families. With gentle style and rich insight, Gildea delivers a gem of a book. For most popular sports collections.-William H. Hoffman, Ft. Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., Fla.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801853791
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/1996
  • Series: Maryland Paperback Bookshelf Series
  • Edition description: 20
  • Pages: 311
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

William Gildea is a sportswriter for the Washington Post. He and his wife, Mary Fran, parents of four, live in Bethesda, Maryland.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2004

    Fine read for all generations

    This book is very well written and enjoyable for all ages. I myself was only born for one of the Colts' many seasons, and this book gave me a chance to see what the city of Baltimore was like during its time with the team. More than just a book about football, the book talks in depth about Baltimore cultures of the time, many of which are still carried on. The author entails many stories of his younger years, and tells how the Colts became friends to the people of the city of Baltimore. This is a great light read that anyone, from Baltimore or not, from the time of the Colts or not, will be able to enjoy.

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