20 Ravens Relics In 20 Years: First Game Ball


"20 Ravens Relics In 20 Years" is a series celebrating the team's 20th anniversary that will tell the story behind 20 key objects in franchise history. The stories and photos of the relics will be unveiled before each 2015 game.

It was a lightning-quick turnaround for the Ravens to get on the field for their first game.

On Nov. 6, 1995, Art Modell announced he was going to move his franchise from Cleveland* *to Baltimore. On Feb. 9, 1996, the NFL approved the shift.

On March 29, the team became the Ravens – instead of other possibilities such as the Americans or Marauders. On May 16, Baltimore released its season ticket plan, and about a month later they announced 50,000 season tickets had been sold in four days.

Training camp started in mid-July at Western Maryland College in Westminster, Md. Players and coaches bounced around between classrooms that could barely hold them. The team's training facility was in an old police training barracks that literally had bullet holes in the walls.

Still, under a tremendous amount of pressure, the Ravens were ready on time for their first exhibition game in franchise history on Aug. 3, 1996.

The Ravens played the Philadelphia Eagles at Memorial Stadium in front of a sellout crowd and won, 17-9.

A pair of rookies stole the show as fifth-round wide receiver and return specialist Jermaine Lewis returned a kickoff for a touchdown and linebacker Ray Lewis recorded his first sack.

"Once the shift was announced by Art Modell, things worked in very quick order. Boom, boom, boom, and there we were in our first exhibition game," said Sports Legends Museum Executive Director Mike Gibbons.

"We have the very first ball ever used in a Ravens game. It was used on the first play and, luckily, somebody had the fortitude to take it out of the game."

The ball is inscribed with "Baltimore has the ball" because "Give Baltimore the ball" was a popularized a slogan used when trying to get a franchise back in Baltimore after the Colts left.

The Sports Legends Museum also has a commemorative ball from the first regular-season game in franchise history, a 19-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders. It's not a game-used ball and it was presented to former Corporate Sales Manager Michael Fiorelli.

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