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Professional Football/identify old # 73 balto colt player


Jim: Have an old picture of a 1950's Balto. Colt player with # 73 on his jersey. Can you name or identify this player from this limited description?


After checking some resources and  colts team photos, I can provide a comprehensive list of all the Baltimore Colts players who have worn the #73.  The job was made easier by the fact that two of the players were popular mainstays of their teams.

The list will range from 1947 through 1965.  I wanted to give you some margin for error in case your information about the photograph is not precise.

Most likely, the player’s name you are seeking is the most popular of these five former Baltimore Colts.  This would be Joe Campanella who wore #73 for 5 out of the 6 years that this number was assigned during the 1950's.  Campanella was a terrific player who came to Baltimore vis a vie the defunct Dallas Texans.  The Texans were the failed franchise which commissioner Bert Bell transferred to Baltimore.  Bell had arranged for a friend of his, Carol Rosenbloom to purchase the franchise from the NFL.  Campanella was a terrific defensive ballplayer whose play may have been overlooked because of the prowesses of two fellow defensive linemen.  Campanella arrived in Baltimore with a pair of former Dallas Texans, Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti whose careers would earn them admission to the NFL Hall of Fame.  Campanella was humble enough to accept his place, but he served the team as a quiet leader.  His business investments were wildly successful making millions for himself and two teammates.

I came across a website that can give you more information about Joe Campanella and his impact on the Baltimore Colts.

To follow is the complete list of players who wore #73 for the Colts:

1947 - 1949 – Bernard “Bus” Mertes ... A better than average linebacker for the original Baltimore Colts of the All-America Football Conference.
1950 –  Hardy Brown ... Hardy only played 4 games as a Colt before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers where he had a formidable career.
1951 & 1952 –  Baltimore was without a football franchise.
1953 - 1957 –  Joe Campanella
1958 & 1959 –  The number 73 was not assigned ... a tribute to Campanella
1960 –  Lebron Shields - Played one year for the Colts
1961 - 1965 – Tom Gilburg who was our punter, backup offensive lineman, and fifth string backup QB (which actually was a factor in1965).

I would still like to see your photo if you can upload the file.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.  My email address is

Best wishes,
Jim Considine



Trying to identify an NFL player by number, sight unseen from the 1950's is very difficult. Do you have a copy of this picture as a digital file?  If you do, then please send it to me, and we have a fighting chance of identifying your player.

The problem lies in the fact that despite the wondrous workings of the modern NFL, it's grandfather was not very good at keeping records.  Unlike baseball, football records exist based on the amount of coverage that the local newspapers dedicated to the team.  During the first four seasons that the Colts played in Baltimore (1947, 48, 49, 50), only one newspaper, the Sunpapers (morning edition) covered the Colts with a column, statistics and photograph on the day following the game. The News American (all editions) and Evening Sun simply ran a story that fit into the space left on whatever page of the sports section.  Once the team appeared on the verge of success (1956), the press coverage expanded.  The reason for the limited press coverage is due to the fact that professional football was not held in high regards. It was considered a sport of ruffians and was regarded as an abomination of the brand of football played at the colleges.  (On a smaller scale, think of the popularity of professional lacrosse versus college lacrosse)

Some team, such as the Redskins kept better records than the Colts or the Steelers. However, the amount of information kept was inconsistent from team to team. If you asked me to name a Redskins player #73 from the 1950's, I can do this. The Redskins plethora of information is the exception rather than the rule.

Assuming that you don't have the picture as a digital file, and if identifying this player is important to you, then I will need for you to give me as much information as possible about the picture in question.  Some of the questions I would like for you to address include;

- How were you able to determine that the picture is from the 1950's?
- Is the picture an original photograph or a printed piece?
- If printed, what is the name of the publication?
- Describe the picture ... is it a game action photo or a public relations department picture? - Where did you get the picture?
- Size?
- If it is a game action photo, what other players numbers are in the picture?

As stated earlier, if you have a copy of then picture, then the chances are excellent that I can give you a name.  if you don't, the task becomes more challenging.  The more information you can provide, then our odds of success improve.

Best wishes,

Professional Football

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Jim Considine


The subject of my expertise pertains to "American Football", as opposed to "Futball" or the game we refer to in the USA as soccer. --------------------------------------------------------- I can answer statistical questions about professional football. I am especially strong on the subject of the Baltimore Colts from 1947 through 1983, Washington Redskins, and the Baltimore Ravens. My services are best used when an older, obscure question is posed. The newer NFL records are easily accessible through I do not appraise memorabilia. I am not an expert on Canadian Football, though I will take a shot at any questions you might pose. I have a good understanding and recall of the folklore about Baltimore football. Some of this information may be subjective in nature. I will give the best answer possible if this is the case.


I was an NFL Statistician with the Washington Redskins. I grew up during the days of the Baltimore Colts in the 1960's. (Please refer to the movie "Diner" for more information about the Baltimore Colts fans)

Washington Redskins Statistician, 2005-2010 Baltimore Ravens, 1996-2003

The records were used by author Jon Morgan in his book, "Glory For Sale". The records have been part of the Baltimore Ravens Media Guides since their inaugural season in 1996. I was interviewed for the cover story of The Press Box, a local, monthly sports tabloid newspaper.

I researched and was able to piece together the statistical history of the AAFC Baltimore Colts 1947-49, and the 1950 NFL Colts. This information was used by The Baltimore Ravens for their 1996 Media Guide. The records were entitled "Baltimore Football Records". It was considered "unofficial" since the AAFC league records were not incorporated with the NFL records when the leagues merged. The reason that this information was created was due to the fact that the NFL had prohibited the 1996 Baltimore Ravens from bringing the records, colors, and team name from the Cleveland Browns. The Baltimore football records were presented in order to create a frame of reference. The Ravens have kept these records since 1996, adding and amending as the Ravens football team challenge these records.

Awards and Honors
I was awarded two game balls from the Ravens and was recognized for my work as the top game day employee.

Past/Present Clients
Baltimore Ravens, Wise Guides, Washington Redskins

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