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Marching Ravens History

Marching Band History

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​A Baltimore Tradition

Every true Baltimore pro-football fan knows the traditions of our city's football heritage dating back to the post World War II days, including the forming of the Baltimore Colts' Band in 1947. What some may not know is that that organization stayed together when the city lost it's pro-football team not once, but twice (1951-1952 and 1984-1995) acting as musical ambassadors for the city keeping the torch alive until the NFL returned.

When the Modell family moved their team to Baltimore, they adopted the Colts' Band and in 1998, after 50 years of continuous service, the band was transformed into Baltimore's Marching Ravens, the largest musical entity in the NFL.

Important Events in the Band's History

1947: The Baltimore Colts' Marching Band is founded on September 7th. The Miami Seahawks of the All-America Conference relocate to Baltimore to become the original Baltimore Colts. The team colors are silver and green.

1950: On June 24, 1950, The Baltimore Colts' Marching Band played for Harry S. Truman, President of the United States, for the grand opening of Maryland's Friendship Airport, which is currently Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

1951-1952: The Baltimore Colts' Marching Band continues to operate without a football team promoting Baltimore back into the NFL.

1953: The NFL's Dallas Texans relocate to Baltimore and assume the name Baltimore Colts. The blue and white colors of the new colts are the former colors of the Texans. The band is adopted by the new team.

1953-1983: The Baltimore Colts' Marching Band represents the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League.

1962: The Baltimore Colts' Marching Band has the honor of playing for President John F. Kennedy at the Maryland Democratic Convention.

1984: The Colts franchise is relocated to Indianapolis.

1984-1995: The Baltimore Colts' Band, Inc. continues to operate without a football team. The band performs at 30 NFL football games, 23 CFL games and had the honor of performing at the 1991 Pro-Football Hall of Fame enshrinement, parade, pre-game and halftime and receives the first standing ovation for a halftime band in Pro-Football Hall of Fame history.

The Colts' Band joins forces with Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer in fighting for two new stadiums for the Baltimore Orioles and an NFL franchise. The band made an appearance in March of 1987 on the steps of the Maryland State House to do a concert in promoting their belief and support in the stadium project. Governor Schaefer makes the statement, "The Colts' Band made the difference and turned the tide in winning the vote for the new stadium complex". The band becomes a major promotion tool for the stadium cause.

1996: Art Modell moves his NFL franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore. The team is renamed the Ravens. The new colors are purple and black.

1997: On September 7, the Baltimore Colts' Band celebrates its 50th anniversary at halftime of the Ravens-Bengals game.

1998: The Baltimore Colts' Band performs for the final time on July 11 in a parade marking the opening of the ESPN Zone at the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

Baltimore's Marching Ravens debuts on August 8th at the opening of the new football stadium at Camden Yards for the Ravens-Bears pre-game season.

2000-2001: An incredible season concludes for Baltimore's Marching Ravens. The season includes performances with the world reknown composer Marvin Hamlisch and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Inauguration Parade for President George W. Bush and the victory parade for the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.

2002: The Marching Ravens performed at the Navy / Notre Dame game at Ravens Stadium.

2007: The Marching Ravens had the honor of performing in the world's most famous parade, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing for millions of spectators in New York City and a worldwide broadcast audience.

2009: The Marching Ravens were presented with the Special Olympics of Maryland's "Be A Fan" Award at the 2009 Summer Games at Towson University for demonstrating its committment to the athletics of Special Olympics through 25 years of dedicated service.

Famed Oscar winning movie director Barry Levinson produced and directed a one-hour documentary for the ESPN series "30 For 30" on the Baltimore Colts' Marching Band. It focused on how the band continued to march throughout the NFL despite the loss of its football team and played a major part in bringing the NFL back to Baltimore. It also showed their transition into the Marching Ravens. Sports Illustrated voted "The Band That Wouldn't Die" the best of the ESPN "30 For 30" series.

I was a member of the Marching Ravens for five years (2013 – 2017) playing guitar in the Rhythm Section.  I am a Mechanical Systems Engineer working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD. I have worked many space missions for Hubble Space Telescope servicing and built several payload experiments flown onboard the International Space Station (ISS). I have gotten to know several of astronauts and as a thank you to the band, I asked one of the crew to take a photo of the Marching Ravens logo onboard ISS. 

Christina Koch is an American astronaut who launched to the International Space Station on March 14, 2019 and set the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman with a total of 328 days in space. Christina grew up in North Carolina but spent time in Maryland early in her career working at NASA/Goddard as well as the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD. She graciously agreed to take a copy of the Marching Ravens logo with her prior to her record breaking stay on the Space Station. Prior to her Russian Soyuz flight to the space station she was able to watch the ESPN documentary "The Band That Wouldn't Die" while she was in pre-launch quarantine in Kazakhstan.  She wanted to learn more about the Marching Ravens and was impressed with the determination and spirit of the band during the years without a team. 

The attached photos were taken by Christina from the Cupola module of the space station June 2019. The Cupola is one of the astronauts' favorite hang outs because it is a dome with seven reinforced glass windows with great views of the Earth below. 

Congratulations to the Marching Ravens for 75 years of dedicated service to the city of Baltimore. We at NASA can relate to the spirit of determination and perseverance the Marching Ravens exemplify to reach their goals.  The Marching Ravens are a very unique part of NFL and Baltimore history and now have something out of this world to add to their story. 

~~ Mark Neuman

              Marching Raven 2013-2017

              Mechanical Systems Engineer @ NASA/GSFC