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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
BaltimoreCFLHelmet Baltimore Stallions logo

Founded 1994
Folded 1995
Based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Home field Memorial Stadium
League Canadian Football League
Division East Division
South Division
Colours Royal blue, silver, black and white
                   
Head coach Don Matthews
General manager Jim Popp
Owner(s) Jim Speros
Grey Cup wins 1995
Uniform CFL Jersey BAL 1994

The Baltimore Stallions was 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, in 1995, became the only American team to win the Grey Cup.

HistoryEdit

1994 seasonEdit

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 1983. 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, 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."

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 defense. 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 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 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 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. One of the key strategies in the Lions' victory was limiting Pringle to just 71 rushing yards in the game. Cornerback Karl Anthony became the first player on the losing team to be awarded the Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player.

1994 accomplishmentsEdit

After the season, the Baltimore players received many awards and accomplishments in the CFL:

Divisional Awards

CFL Awards

1994 Eastern All-Stars

Offense

Defense

Special Teams

1994 CFL All-Stars

Offense

Defense

Special Teams

1995 seasonEdit

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 to place 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 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 '94 numbers by rushing for 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 the CFL's Most Outstanding Player and would rise to the occasion in the playoffs.

After rolling over 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 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 (52.8 mph). 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; it 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' defense managed to shut down the league's top-ranked offense. 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, as discussed below, celebrations for the franchise was short-lived after their Grey Cup triumph.

1995 accomplishmentsEdit

After the season, other Baltimore Stallions' received awards and accomplishments in the CFL, which are:

Divisional Awards

CFL Awards

1995 Southern All-Stars

Offense

Defense

Special Teams

1995 CFL All-Stars

Offense

Defense

Special Teams

Off the fieldEdit

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).

In the endEdit

After the 1995 season, the CFL decided to disband all American franchises with the exception of the Stallions and Texans. However, not long after that Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell announced he was moving his team to Baltimore. This would have made the Stallions the only CFL team to compete directly with the NFL. While the Stallions had been a runaway hit, Speros knew they could not hope to go head-to-head with an NFL team and announced plans to move. After scouting out Norfolk, Virginia, and Houston, Texas, 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, 2009 and 2010.

Players and builders of note Edit

RetiredEdit

Still activeEdit

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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