A couple of special Baltimore guys are celebrating birthdays and these 2 men are worth celebrating.
Vince Bagli turned 86 this week. “The Dean” of Baltimore sportscasters is going strong. You can still find him on the golf course chasing par’s and enjoying time with friends.
I still remember that cold September night at Memorial Stadium when the new kid in town was warmly welcomed to Baltimore by “The Dean” and was told “let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.” You hear things like that a lot, but my hunch told me this guy actually meant it. My hunch was right, and it was the beginning of a friendship that’s lasted over 30 years.
Vince came into our homes and car radio’s before ESPN, the internet, Comcast Cable and MASN. He was Baltimore’s link to our games and our teams. From World Series, Super Bowls, to ordinary high school games, Vince was our trusted friend telling us about the fun and games in Baltimore. He did it with class, dignity and humility.
No ranting, finger pointing, or incessantly calling somebody an idiot. On a rare occasion a misguided jocular type might elicit a raised voice “You big dummy” from Mr. Bagli and we knew said player deserved it. He never made it about Vince, it was about the game and those who played it. Not sure a man of his humble virtues could get hired today.
You can still find Vince in the press box at Ravens home games and afternoon Orioles games. He always draws a crowd. Many of us, like Baltimore sports fans for all those years, love to hear from The Dean. Happy Birthday Vince!
Wednesday Art Donovan will celebrate his 89th birthday with family and friends. The recent years have been difficult on his body but his mind, sense of humor and courage are all intact. Artie is one of the great characters in Baltimore sports history. Mention his name around here and the first thing you’ll see is a smile. His story telling is legendary, kind of like the Globetrotters a lot of us know the act but it never gets old. An Artie story is just as funny the 10th time we hear it as it was the first time.
The larger than life character shouldn’t let us forget about Art Donovan the football player. He was the first Baltimore Colts player voted to The Pro Football Hall of Fame, elected in 1968. With Donovan at tackle and Gino Marchetti at end the Colts had one of the best 1-2 defensive line punches in the NFL. Art Donovan went to 5 straight Pro Bowl’s and was a leader on back to back Baltimore NFL championship teams.
The kid from the Bronx came from a famous sports family. His grand-father was a world middleweight boxing champion and his father, Art Donovan Sr., refereed some of the biggest fights in boxing history. Young Art was a man when he came to Baltimore in the ‘50’s. He had witnessed the horror of World War 2 serving four years as a Marine. He was part of the bloody battle of Iwo Jima and is fiercely proud of his country, the flag and those who serve it. Artie brought his smile to Baltimore over 60 years ago and it never left. Art, this Schlitz is for you. Happy Birthday!