Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Baltimore Bays – NASL’ tag

1967-1969 Baltimore Bays

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Baltimore Bays SoccerNational Professional Soccer League (1967)
North American Soccer League (1968-1969)

Born: 1967 – NPSL founding franchise.
Folded: September 24, 1969.

Stadiums:

Team Colors: Gold & Red

Owner: Jerold Hoffberger, et al.

 

The original Baltimore Bays were a short-lived pro soccer team that was owned and operated by the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball.  Orioles owner Jerold Hoffberger was one of ten founding members of the National Professional Soccer League in 1967.  The NPSL was an effort to capitalize on moderate American interest in the 1966 World Cup, which was broadcast on U.S. television for the first time.  The league featured a number of heavy hitter owners from Major League Baseball and the NFL, including the Hoffberger, the Rooney family in Pittsburgh, Bill Bartholomay in Atlanta and Los Angeles Rams’ owner Dan Reeves.

The Bays won the NPSL’s Eastern Division with a 14-9-9 record.  Defender Badu DaCruz, midfielder Juan Santisteban and forward Art Welch were named to the All-NPSL 1st Team.  The Bays advanced to the two-leg NPSL championship series against the Western Division champion Oakland Clippers. Baltimore won the first match 1-0 at home before 16,619 fans at Memorial Stadium on September 3, 1967.  But the Clippers roared back with a 4-1 victory in the second leg in Oakland on September 9th. The Bays lost the series 4-2 on aggregate goals.

Baltimore Bays NPSLFollowing the 1967 season, the NPSL merged with the rival United Soccer Association to form the 17-club North American Soccer League (NASL).  The Bays dipped to 13-16-3 and missed the playoffs in their second season.

The NASL collapsed in late 1968 as investors lost hope in soccer’s potential with the American audience.  The 17-team membership shrank to just five clubs for the 1969 campaign.  The Bays were one of the five survivors, but they gave up on 50,000-seat Memorial Stadium, where the club averaged only around 5,000 fans for its first two seasons.  The Bays would play their final season at Kirk Field, a high school football oval in Northeast Baltimore.

With the league in disarray, NASL officials split the 1969 season into two sections.  The first section – dubbed the “International Cup” – saw the NASL import top shelf English clubs to represent the five remaining NASL cities. During the International Cup, the “Baltimore Bays” were actually West Ham United, featuring Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore, two of the great stars of England’s 1966 World Cup championship team.  West Ham/the Bays acquitted themselves well in the round robin tournament. Baltimore finished 2nd to the “Kansas City Spurs” (who were actually Wolverhampton Wanderers).

For the second half of the 1969 season, the Brits went home. The NASL clubs re-grouped with actual rosters of their own players.  The real Bays? They were horrid. The team finished in last place with a 2-13-1 record and drew barely a 1,000 fans per match. The Bays folded shortly after the 1969 season ended, having lost over a million dollars in three years for the Baltimore Orioles.

A lower-budget reboot of the Bays appeared for one season in the 2nd division American Soccer League in 1973, hosted a couple of international exhibitions against British and Mexican opponents, and then quietly vanished after one season.

 

Baltimore Bays Shop

Bays Logo T-Shirt by Ultras

Rock n’ Roll Soccer: The Short Life & Fast Times of the North American Soccer League by Ian Plenderleith

 

Baltimore Bays Memorabilia

 

Links

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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