Baltimore Stallions


Baltimore Stallions

:"Baltimore Football Club" redirects here. For the former and current NFL franchises, see Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, respectively."

The Baltimore Stallions were a Canadian football team based in Baltimore, Maryland, which played the 1994 and 1995 seasons. They were the most successful American team in the Canadian Football League having two winning seasons, a division title and became the first and only American team to win the Grey Cup in 1995.

History

On The Field

1994 season

Owner Jim Speros' approach was simple: he knew that Canadian football was different from the American game, and therefore made a point of hiring personnel and players with CFL experience. Speros made Jim Popp general manager of the new team, and named the legendary Don Matthews as head coach. Popp and Matthews, in turn, brought in experienced players like QB Tracy Ham, RB Mike Pringle, LB O. J. Brigance, DT Jerald Bayliss, DE Elfrid Payton and former National Football League veteran K Donald Igwebuike. However, the franchise quickly ran into trouble, becoming known as the "team without a name." Speros had started calling his new franchise the Baltimore CFL Colts and the NFL sued because of possible public confusion with their Indianapolis Colts, who had played in Baltimore from 1953 until 1984. The NFL won an injunction because the CFL version of the Baltimore Colts didn't want to go bankrupt fighting it, and the franchise became known as the Baltimore Football Club (Baltimore F.C.), sometimes called the Baltimore CFLers. The team's fan base resisted the change; for most of the '94 season, the public address announcer at Memorial Stadium would announce the team as "your Baltimore CFL..." followed by a pause, during which time the assembled fans would shout "Colts!", and after which the stadium announcer would conclude, "...football team."

Even though they lacked an official name, the Baltimore franchise finished second in the CFL East Division with a 12-6 regular season record, which became a CFL record for the most wins by an expansion team; this record still stands today. In addition, the team was ranked third in team scoring and ranked second in team defence. Furthermore, 27-year old running back, Mike Pringle was the leading rusher with a record 1,972 yards and thirteen touchdowns, narrowly missing becoming the first running back to reach 2,000 yards in the CFL. Pringle also returned 38 kicks for 814 yards, which made him a CFL All-Star, Eastern All-Star and a Terry Evanshen Trophy winner.

In the playoffs, the Baltimore franchise hosted the Toronto Argonauts in the East semi-finals at Memorial Stadium and won the game, 34-15. After the semi-final game, Baltimore ended up defeating the favoured Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Winnipeg Stadium 14-12 to become the first American and expansion team to make it to the Grey Cup. In their first two playoff games, Mike Pringle would rush for 165 yards going into the Grey Cup game.

In the Grey Cup game, Baltimore was up against the B.C. Lions at BC Place Stadium. Baltimore had the upper hand against the Lions, leading 17-10 at half-time and silencing the Lions' faithful; however, the Lions came back in the second half, winning by a score of 26-23 on a last-second Lui Passaglia field-goal. One of the key strategies in the Lions' victory was limiting Pringle to just 71 rushing yards in the game. Overall, the only success Baltimore enjoyed at the game was that CB Karl Anthony became the first player on the losing team to be awarded the Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player.

1994 Accomplishments

After the season, the Baltimore players received many awards and accomplishments in the CFL:Divisional Awards
* Most Valuable Player of the East Division - Mike Pringle (RB)
* Most Outstanding Rookie of the East Division - Matt Goodwin (DB)
* Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award of the East Division - Shar Pourdanesh (OT)CFL Awards
* CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award - Shar Pourdanesh (OT)
* CFL's Most Outstanding Rookie Award - Matt Goodwin (DB)
* CFLPA's Most Outstanding Community Service Award - O. J. Brigance (LB)
* CFL's Coach of the Year - Don Matthews
* Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player - Karl Anthony (CB)1994 Eastern All-Stars

"Offense"
* Mike Pringle (RB)
* Peter Tuipulotu (FB)
* Chris Armstrong (SB)
* Nick Subis (C)
* Shar Pourdanesh (OT)

"Defense"
* Irvin Smith (CB)
* Michael Brooks (DS)

"Special Teams"
* Josh Miller (P)1994 CFL All-Stars

"Offense"
* Mike Pringle (RB)
* Shar Pourdanesh (OT)

"Defense"
* Irvin Smith (CB)

"Special Teams"
* Josh Miller (P)

1995 season

After the 1994 season, a name-the-team fan poll was held to decide a new team name. After the team's first week of the season being known as the Baltimore Football Club, the fan poll ended and Jim Speros announced to the Baltimore faithful that their team would be known as the Baltimore Stallions. Situations changed for the Stallions when the CFL decided to add teams in Memphis and Birmingham. In addition, their expansion cousins the Las Vegas Posse folded, while the Sacramento Gold Miners relocated to San Antonio as the San Antonio Texans. The CFL decided that with five U.S. teams (including the financially challenged Shreveport Pirates) in their league, it was appropriate to re-align their two divisions and placed all the U.S. teams in the new South Division, while the Canadian teams were in the North Division. Despite the changes to their name and to the league environment, the Baltimore Stallions returned with virtually the same roster. The exception was the signing of former Posse kicker Carlos Huerta to replace Donald Igwebuike, who moved on to play with Memphis. By keeping the same players from the '94 season, optimism and Grey Cup expectations were high for the Stallions. Optimism became reality as Baltimore continued their on-field dominance from the previous season by finishing with a 15-3 regular season record, finishing first in the South Division and tying for the best record in the league with Calgary. Quarterback Tracy Ham formed a more lethal combination with Mike Pringle and Robert Drummond as the most potent backfield in the CFL. Chris Armstrong became the team's top receiver and the defence continued dominating opponents by allowing only 369 points-against, ranking the squad third in team defence. Mike Pringle had a slight drop-off to his '94 numbers by rushing 1,791 yards, while his yards-per-carry fell to 5.8 from 6.4 in '94. However, Pringle's statistics were still better than most running backs' stats in the league that year and he was named CFL's Most Outstanding Player and would rise to the occasion in the playoffs.

After rolling over Winnipeg 36-21, in the divisional semi-final, Don Matthews and his team easily handled the San Antonio Texans in the Southern final - winning the game 21-11 to advance to the Grey Cup for the second straight season. The Stallions were headed to Regina's Taylor Field to face the 15-3 North Division champion Calgary Stampeders who were led by coach Wally Buono, QB Doug Flutie and his two top receivers Allen Pitts and Dave Sapunjis. During the Grey Cup game, the winds at Taylor Field were particularly strong and gusted up to 85 km/h. That didn't slow down the Stallions as they opened the game with a Chris Wright 82 yard punt return touchdown (a Grey Cup record) just 2:20 into the game. After Calgary responded by scoring the next 13 points to take a 13-7 lead, Baltimore replied with four consecutive scores including three Carlos Huerta field goals against the wind, the longest from 53 yards (another Grey Cup record). O. J. Brigance blocked a Calgary punt with just under eight minutes to go in the half which was scooped up by Alvin Walton at the five. He dove over for Baltimore's lone touchdown of the half. In the third quarter after a Baltimore single, Flutie managed to score a touchdown on a one-yard plunge, but it was the last scoring for Calgary as the Stallions defence managed to shut down the league's top-ranked offence. Stallions quarterback Tracy Ham responded by throwing 213 yards with a touchdown of his own, while Huerta kicked two more field goals to round out Baltimore's scoring as they dominated the Stampeders for a 37-20 victory to become the first American team to win the Grey Cup. Pringle was a playoff workhorse and ran for 484 yards and four touchdowns in all three playoff games. After the game, Tracy Ham became the Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player. However, celebrations for the franchise was short-lived after their Grey Cup triumph.

1995 Accomplishments

After the season, other Baltimore Stallions' received awards and accomplishments in the CFL, which are:Divisional Awards
* Most Valuable Player of the East Division - Mike Pringle (RB)
* Most Outstanding Rookie of the East Division - Chris Wright (WR)
* Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award of the East Division - Mike Withycombe (OG)CFL Awards
* CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award - Mike Pringle (RB)
* CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award - Mike Withycombe (OG)
* CFL's Coach of the Year - Don Matthews
* Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player - Tracy Ham (QB)1995 Southern All-Stars

"Offense"
* Mike Pringle (RB)
* Chris Armstrong (SB)
* Mike Withycombe (OG)
* Shar Pourdanesh (OT)
* Neal Fort (OT)

"Defense"
* Jerald Baylis (DT)
* Elfrid Payton (DE)
* Tracy Gravely (LB)
* O. J. Brigance (LB)
* Irvin Smith (CB)
* Charles Anthony (DB)

"Special Teams"
* Josh Miller (P)
* Chris Wright (ST)1995 CFL All-Stars

"Offense"
* Mike Pringle (RB)
* Mike Withycombe (OG)
* Neal Fort (OT)

"Defense"
* Jerald Baylis (DT)
* O. J. Brigance (LB)
* Irvin Smith (CB)
* Charles Anthony (DB)

"Special Teams"
* Josh Miller (P)
* Chris Wright (ST)

Off The Field

To sell season tickets, Speros took advantage of the anti-NFL sentiment in Baltimore after the Colts had moved to Indianapolis in March 1984 and named the team the "Baltimore CFL Colts". The NFL fought the naming of the team and ultimately won and the team for 1994 was known as the Baltimore CFLers. In 1995 the club ultimately decided upon the Baltimore Stallions.

Overall, Baltimore had strong dedicated ownership and experienced CFL personnel and players. These factors made it the most successful American team in the CFL, especially when they became the 1995 Grey Cup champions. Unlike the other American teams in the CFL, the Baltimore Stallions had a strong fan base and had strong attendance numbers, averaging 37,347 in 1994 (first in the CFL) and 30,112 in 1995 (second in the CFL).

After the Stallions' Grey Cup victory, then Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell planned a move of the Browns to Baltimore. Baltimore's enthusiasm for the Stallions decreased after the move by Modell became known. Noticing the danger to his team, Speros tried to gain support from Baltimore's local government and businesses and hoped that would keep the team in Baltimore. It was unsuccessful.

In The End

Art Modell moved his franchise to Baltimore and named them the Baltimore Ravens. Afterwards, Jim Speros looked at other American markets to move the franchise, most notably Richmond, Virginia. When the CFL decided to disband all other American franchises (with the exception of Speros' team and the Texans), Speros decided to move the franchise to Montreal and the team became the third incarnation of the Montreal Alouettes. After owning the team for one more season Speros sold the Montreal Alouettes to Robert C. Wetenhall in 1997. The Alouettes have since become one of the league's most successful franchises, winning the Grey Cup in 2002. But there was also consideration of the team moving to Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage is the most northern major American city and may be able to support a CFL team.

Attendance for the Baltimore Football Club and the Stallions was very good over their lifetime, averaging 50-55,000 per game both years (a number well above even the Canadian teams) and thus proving that under the right set of circumstances Americans were willing to support a C.F.L. team. The team was featured in an article in Sports Illustrated in its first year. Despite its relatively brief existence the Stallions must be considered a successful venture for the C.F.L., arguably the only American franchise that could be considered as such. Although most fans in Baltimore have turned their attention to the Ravens, to this day a dedicated group of Baltimore C.F.L. football fans still meet up with other C.F.L. fans in general and Alouettes fans in particular at events such as the Grey Cup. The team's existence and success showed the N.F.L. that Baltimore was hungry for football. The arrival of the Baltimore Ravens forced the team to leave town after its championship year, but loyalties and friendships remain.

Players and builders of note

Retired

* Rob Davis
* Neal Fort
* Mike Pringle
* Tracy Ham
* Donald Igwebuike
* Karl Anthony
* Matt Goodwin
* Shar Pourdanesh
* O. J. Brigance
* Elfrid Payton
* Jerald Baylis
* Irvin Smith

till Active

* Don Matthews
* Josh Miller, punter for Tennessee Titans

ee also

* Comparison of Canadian and American football
* CFL USA
* 1994 CFL season
* 1995 CFL season
* 82nd Grey Cup
* 83rd Grey Cup
* Montreal Alouettes

External links

* [http://mywebpages.comcast.net/jstass/Stallions/stallions.html The 1995 Baltimore Stallions Yearbook]
* [http://www.ravensnest1.com/Baltimore%20Stallions.htm Baltimore Stallions two year record and merchandise]
* [http://www.geocities.com/cfl_historical/Baltimore-CFL.htm Baltimore Stallions CFL Historical page]


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