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The Baltimore Stallions were an American football team which played in the Canadian Football League during the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Today, the Franchise exists as the third and current iteration of the Montreal Alouettes.
How did the Baltimore Stallions Begin?
Following the controversial relocation of the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in 1984, the city of Baltimore tried severally, albeit unsuccessfully to get a replacement NFL franchise. In 1993, the CFL awarded the city an expansion franchise, under the custody of former Washington Redskins assistant coach Jim Speros. Seeking to take over the immensely loyal fan base left behind by the Colts, Speros adopted team colors and logo very similar to those of the relocated franchise.
He also adopted the Colts’ old marching band, cheerleaders and fan clubs. He named the new team Baltimore CFL Colts but was forced to change the name after the NFL went to court to contest the use of the name “Colts.” Speros changed the name of the team to Baltimore Football Club, though the local fans and team officials continued to refer to the team as the Colts.
With the difference between Canadian Football and American football in mind, Steros hired extensively from the CFL with Don Mathews, a longtime CFL coach appointed as head coach. The Memorial stadium, a football and baseball ground would serve as the home for the new team.
The Baltimore Stallions in Competition
The Stallions’ started playing during the 1994 season. They finished second in the CFL East Division with a 12-6 record in the regular season. This was a record for the most wins by an expansion team in the CFL. They had the third best team scoring record in the entire league and also the second best defense. In the East semifinals, the Stallions beat the Toronto Argonauts 34-15 at the Memorial Stadium.
They then beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 14-12 in the East Finals, to become the first and only American and expansion team to play in the Grey Cup Final. They faced the British Columbia Lions in the Grey Cup game, losing 26-23 after having led 17-10 at halftime.
During the 1995, the Stallions were placed in the league’s new South Division along with four other US teams. A name-the-team fan contest was held prior to the start of the season and the name “Stallions” was picked. They continued their hot streak from the previous season, finishing the regular season with a 15-3 record for first place in the division.
In the division semifinals, they beat the Blue Bombers 36-21 and then beat the San Antonio Texans 21-11 in the South Finals. In the Grey Cup final, they faced the North Division champions Calgary Stampeders at a windswept Regina’s Taylor Field. The Stallions triumphed 37-20, becoming the first American team to win the Grey Cup.
Baltimore Stallions Notable Players
Elfrid Payton DE 1994-1995
Tracy Ham QB 1994-1995
Mike Pringle RB 1994-1995
Robert Drummond WR 1994-1995
Donald Igwebuike K 1995
Baltimore Stallions Notable Moments
Replacing the insanely popular Baltimore Colts was always going to be a toll order for the Stallions but team ownership hatched an ingenious plan to bask in the glory of the beloved Colts.
Aside from imitating over the team’s uniform and logo, the officials encouraged fans to use the name “Colts” even after an obstruction to that effect in the courts. Team announcers would introduce the team as “your Baltimore CFL ….” and after a small pause, the crowd would shout “Colts!”
What Happened to the Baltimore Stallions?
The stallions had by far the most successful American CFL team both on the pitch and at the box office. They topped the league in attendance during the 1994 season and were runners-up during the 1995 season. Prior to the 1996 season, the CFL disbanded three of its five American franchises, with the intention of returning to the East-West divisional alignment.
The Stallions and the Texans were to be placed in the East Division. However, just a week before the new season, this plan unraveled when the Cleveland Browns was relocated to Baltimore. Team owner Speros was aware that he could not compete for fans with the NFL franchise.
Additionally, sharing the Memorial Stadium with the Browns would be a logistical nightmare. He decided to relocate the team, initially to Houston to replace the recently departed Houston Oilers, but then changed his mind and moved to Montreal, with the CFL seemingly keen to end its American experiment. The Stallions became the third reincarnation of the Montreal Alouettes, which has gone on to become a fairly successful team.