Baltimore Stallions

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Baltimore Stallions
Baltimore Stallions helmet Baltimore Stallions logo

Founded1994
Folded1995
Based inBaltimore, Maryland, United States
Home fieldMemorial Stadium
LeagueCanadian Football League
DivisionEast Division
South Division
ColoursRoyal blue, silver, black and white
                   
Head coachDon Matthews
General managerJim Popp
Owner(s)Jim Speros
Grey Cup wins1995
UniformCFL Jersey BAL 1994.png
 
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"Baltimore Football Club" redirects here. For the former and current NFL franchises, see Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, respectively.
Baltimore Stallions
Baltimore Stallions helmet Baltimore Stallions logo

Founded1994
Folded1995
Based inBaltimore, Maryland, United States
Home fieldMemorial Stadium
LeagueCanadian Football League
DivisionEast Division
South Division
ColoursRoyal blue, silver, black and white
                   
Head coachDon Matthews
General managerJim Popp
Owner(s)Jim Speros
Grey Cup wins1995
UniformCFL Jersey BAL 1994.png

The Baltimore Stallions were a Canadian Football League team based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, which played the 1994 and 1995 seasons. They were the most successful American team in the CFL's generally ill-fated expansion effort into the USA: They had winning records in each season, won a division championship, and, in 1995, became the only American franchise ever to win the Grey Cup.

After the "original" Cleveland Browns (of America's National Football League) announced plans to move to Baltimore (which had previously hosted an NFL team for decades) and re-brand as the Baltimore Ravens, the Stallions relocated to Montreal (becoming the current version of the Montreal Alouettes), rather than try to compete with an overwhelmingly more popular brand in its home country. However, the CFL considers the Stallions to be a separate franchise from the Alouettes. As a result, the Stallions are "officially" the last Grey Cup champion to subsequently fold, and one of only two to have done so during the modern (1954-present) era of Canadian football (the other being the Ottawa Rough Riders).

History[edit]

Baltimore had long been home of the Baltimore Colts, a popular NFL franchise that suddenly moved -- literally, overnight -- to Indianapolis in 1984. In 1993, shortly after an ownership group failed to win an NFL expansion franchise as a replacement, Washington Redskins assistant and entrepreneur Jim Speros was granted a CFL expansion franchise for Baltimore that would play in Memorial Stadium, the Colts' old home.

Attempting to capitalize on the city's love for its long-lost Colts, Speros adopted a color scheme of blue, silver and white--very similar to the Colts' colors of blue and white. He also invited the Colts Marching Band, which had stayed together for over a decade, to play at his games. He initially called the team the "Baltimore CFL Colts." However, the NFL went to court and successfully obtained an injunction against the Stallions' use of any version of "Colts" in their name. Right before their very first game, Speros had to quickly change the team's official name to the Baltimore Football Club (which some just called the Baltimore CFLs).

Local fans tended to continue referring to the team as "the Colts" anyway, and team officials did not discourage this. For example, for most of the 1994 season, Memorial Stadium's public address announcer, Jack Taylor, would announce the team as "your Baltimore CFL..." -- followed by a pause, during which time the assembled fans would shout "COLTS!" -- after which he would conclude, "...football team."[1]

1994 season[edit]

Speros's approach to building the team was simple. He knew Canadian football was very different from the American game so made a point of hiring personnel and players with CFL experience. In contrast, the other American CFL teams stocked their rosters with former NFL players, former college football players, and locally-known players. Speros made Jim Popp general manager of the new team, and named longtime CFL coach Don Matthews as head coach. Popp and Matthews, in turn, brought in experienced CFL players like QB Tracy Ham, RB Mike Pringle, LB O. J. Brigance, DT Jerald Bayliss, DE Elfrid Payton (but also, former NFL K Donald Igwebuike.

Even though they lacked an official name, the franchise finished second in the CFL East Division, with a 12–6 regular season record -- a record for the most wins by a CFL expansion team. In addition, the team was ranked third in the entire CFL in team scoring, and second in team defense.

Mike Pringle was the team's offensive standout, earning the league's leading rushing title with a record 1,972 yards and thirteen touchdowns. 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, Baltimore hosted the Toronto Argonauts in the East semifinals at Memorial Stadium and won the game, 34–15. After the semifinal game, Baltimore ended up defeating the favored Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Winnipeg Stadium 14–12 to become the first (and only) American and expansion team to make it to the Grey Cup.

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 halftime 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.

1995 season[edit]

After the 1994 season, a name-the-team fan poll was held to decide a new team name. After the team finished the first week of its second season still going by, "the Baltimore Football Club," the fan poll ended; Speros publicly announced that Baltimore's team would be known as the Baltimore Stallions. The CFL decided that with the addition of the Memphis Mad Dogs, San Antonio Texans, and Birmingham Barracudas, the five U.S. teams would be placed in a new, South Division (while the Canadian teams would reside in the North Division).

Despite the changes to their name and team re-alignment, 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 1994 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 -- first place in the South Division, and tying the Calgary Stampeders for the best record in the CFL.

Quarterback Tracy Ham with Mike Pringle and Robert Drummond were the most potent backfield in the CFL. Chris Armstrong became the team's top receiver and the defense continued dominating opponents by allowing only 369 points-against, ranking the squad third in team defense. Mike Pringle had a slight drop-off from his 1994 numbers by rushing for 1,791 yards, being named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player.

After defeating Winnipeg 36–21 in the divisional semifinals, Don Matthews and his team easily handled the San Antonio Texans in the Southern finals, winning the game 21–11 to advance to the Grey Cup for the second straight season. The Stallions 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 game, the winds at Taylor Field were particularly strong and gusted up to 85 km/h (52.8 mph). That didn't slow down the Stallions, as the Stallions defeated the Stampeders for a 37–20 victory to become the first American team to win the Grey Cup, with Tracy Ham becoming the Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player.

In the end[edit]

Baltimore was far and away the most successful of the CFL's American teams. It had significant fan support and strong live attendance (averaging 37,347 in 1994 [best in the CFL], and 30,112 in 1995 [2nd-best]). After the 1995 season, however, the CFL decided to disband three of its five U.S. franchises -- leaving only Baltimore and San Antonio.

This strategy changed after Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell announced he would be moving his team team to Baltimore. Although the Stallions had been a runaway hit, Speros knew they could not hope to go head-to-head with an NFL team, especially one sharing its home field. He therefore announced plans to move the team. After scouting out Norfolk, Virginia, and Houston, Texas, he decided to relocate the franchise to Montreal to become the third incarnation of the Montreal Alouettes, ultimately selling the franchise to Robert C. Wetenhall in 1997.

Coincidentally, sixteen Baltimore Stallions players earned tryouts for NFL teams in 1996.[1]

Historical Note[edit]

The Canadian Football League does not officially consider the Baltimore Stallions to be part of the Alouettes' history. The league views the Stallions as having been dissolved in 1995, and the Alouettes as having suspended operations from 1987 to 1995. Consequently, when Speros moved the team to Montreal, all of the Stallions' players were released from their contracts. The Alouettes, however, do mention the Stallions on their history page.

As of the 2013 season, Popp is the only remaining link between the Stallions and Alouettes, having followed the team to Montreal as general manager and remaining in that post ever since through eight Grey Cup Finals and three Grey Cups, giving him a total of 10 Grey Cup Finals appearances and four Grey Cups with the Stallions/Alouettes organization.

Roster and Accomplishments[edit]

Baltimore Stallions 1994 Roster
Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen

  • 98 BAYLIS, Jearld* NT
  • 64 MILLER, Scott* DT
  • 71 WHITE, Brent* DT
  • 99 SHOWELL, Malcolm* DT
  • 67 FUHLER, Tom* DT
  • 56 PAYTON, Elfrid* DE
  • 72 PRESBURY, Robert* DE
  • 54 CARTER, Grant* DE
Linebackers

Defensive Backs

Special Teams


Rookies in italics
40 Active, 13 Developmental


Canadian Football Hall of Fame[edit]

Awards and Accomplishments[edit]

1994[edit]

Divisional Awards

CFL Awards

1994 Eastern All-Stars

Offense

Defense

Special Teams

1994 CFL All-Stars

Offense

Defense

Special Teams

1995[edit]

Divisional Awards

CFL Awards

1995 Southern All-Stars

Offense

Defense

Special Teams

1995 CFL All-Stars

Offense

Defense

Special Teams

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]