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1980-1992 Baltimore Blast

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Baltimore Blast Yearbook

Major Indoor Soccer League (1980-1992)

Born: May 1980 – The Houston Summit relocates to Baltimore, MD.
Died: July 1992 – The Blast cease operations.

Arena: Baltimore Arena (12,506)

Team Colors: Flaming Red-Orange, Fiery Yellow & White

Owners:

 

The original Baltimore Blast were a popular, immensely entertaining entry on the Baltimore sports scene throughout the 1980’s.  The team arrived in Charm City in the spring of 1980 by way of Houston, Texas, where the franchise had failed to develop a following during the first two seasons of the Major Indoor Soccer League.  But in Baltimore, the Blast would find a rare and enviable situation – a “Major League” sports market with a distinct shortage of Major League teams.  Once the NFL’s Baltimore Colts snuck out of town on March 28th, 1984, the Blast had Baltimore’s winter sports scene all to themselves.

Sepp Gantenhammer Baltimore BlastBlast games at the Baltimore Civic Center were a spectacle, starting with the team’s elaborate pre-game introductions. The lights dimmed, Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like The Wind” boomed over the sound system, fog swirled, and the Blast cheerleaders and players charged onto the arena floor from an exploding soccer ball-shaped spaceship that descended from the ceiling.  Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” was the Blast’s goal song and would be heard over and over again, as the high-scoring MISL averaged nearly 11 goals per match.

Beyond the marketing glitz, the Blast were a consistently terrific team under Head Coach Kenny Cooper, who moved with the team from Houston and would guide the club for all 12 seasons in Baltimore.  The Blast had fierce divisional rivalries with the New York Arrows in the early part of the 1980’s and then with the Cleveland Force in the middle of the decade.

But the team’s toughest opponent was Ron Newman’s San Diego Sockers, the great indoor dynasty of the 80’s.  The Blast made the MISL playoffs eleven times in twelve seasons.  On five occasions (’83, ’84, ’85, ’89 and ’90) the Blast advanced to the Championship Series, losing the Newman’s club four times.  Baltimore’s only MISL title came in 1984, a season when the Sockers competed in the rival North American Soccer League.

On June 8th, 1984, the Blast defeated the St. Louis Steamers in Game 5 of the MISL finals to win the league championship.  This win would mark the peak of the team’s popularity and influence in Baltimore.  The Colts had just left town.  The Blast averaged a franchise record 11,189 fans per game at the Civic Center in 1983-84.  The victory was also a vindication of one of Kenny Cooper’s boldest moves.  Eleven months earlier, Cooper paid a league record $150,000 transfer fee to purchase an overweight Yugoslav striker named Stan Stamenkovic from the Memphis Americans.  Stamenkovic, known as “The Pizza Man” for his abominable dietary and conditioning habits, led the MISL in scoring in both the regular season and playoffs and was the named the league’s Most Valuable Player for 1984.

Baltimore Blast YearbookThe Blast’s 1984 championship was sweet for original owner Bernie Rodin, as he was last man standing of the MISL’s original owners from 1978 and it was his final game in the league.  Rodin had sold the Blast for a league record $2.9 million to Nathan Scherr three months earlier and the ownership transfer would take formal effect one week after the Finals victory.

The Blast continued to be a fixture in Baltimore for the rest of the decade, averaging over 10,000 fans per game through 1986.  The fortunes of both the MISL and the Blast began to flag as the decade drew to an end.  The league nearly folded in the summer of 1988.  Budget cuts saw the Blast’s vaunted pre-game pyrotechnics scaled back in the late 1980’s, even as previously conservative NBA and NHL teams began to co-opt the MISL’s flashy game presentation tactics.  Nathan Scherr’s early 1989 sale of the Blast to Ed Hale brought just $700,000, or less than 25% of what the team commanded five years earlier.

The Blast played their final matches in April 1992.  Appropriately, the team lost their last contests to Ron Newman and the San Diego Sockers in the 1992 playoff semi-finals.  Fewer than 5,000 fans turned out for each of the semi-final games at Baltimore Arena.

The MISL went out of business  in July 1992 and the Blast closed up shop along with the league.  Within a matter of days, a new indoor club called the Baltimore Spirit was organized with Kenny Cooper returning as Head Coach and Bill Stealey as the new owner.  The Spirit entered the lower-budget National Professional Soccer League, where they would compete for six seasons.  In 1998, former Blast owner Ed Hale purchased the Spirit from Bill Stealey and changed the name back to the Baltimore Blast.  This second version of the Blast continues to play today under Ed Hale’s ownership.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Baltimore Blast Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1980-81

1980-81 11/29/1980 vs. Philadelphia Fever W 10-7 Program
1980-81 2/19/1981 @ Hartford Hellions W 4-3 Program
1980-81 2/22/1981 @ Buffalo Stallions L 5-3 Program

1981-82

1981-82 12/22/1981 @ Cleveland Force W 6-4 Program
1981-82 12/27/1981 vs. Buffalo Stallions L 13-2 Program

1982-83

1982-83 11/5/1982 @ Chicago Sting W 6-5 (OT) Program
1982-83 3/23/1983 @ Los Angeles Lazers W 4-3 (OT) Program

1983-84

1983-84 11/26/1983 vs. Los Angeles Lazers W 7-3 Program
1983-84 11/29/1983 vs. Kansas City Comets W 7-1 Program
1983-84 12/4/1983 vs. Buffalo Stallions W 7-4 Program
1983-84 1/19/1984 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 4-3 Program
1983-84 2/5/1984 @ Cleveland Force W 6-5 Program
1983-84 4/15/1984 @ Cleveland Force W 3-2 Program

1984-85

1984-85 3/26/1985 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 4-3 Program
1984-85 4/28/1985 @ Los Angeles Lazers W 5-4 Program
1984-85 5/10/1985 @ Cleveland Force W 4-3 Program

1985-86

1985-86 1/4/1986 vs. Dallas Sidekicks W 8-4 Program
1985-86 1/17/1986 @ Los Angeles Lazers W 4-3 Program
1985-86 3/6/1986 @ Chicago Sting L 5-2 Program

1986-87

1986-87 1/9/1987 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 5-2 Program
1986-87 2/1/1987 vs. San Diego Sockers  W 7-3 Program
1986-87 2/3/1987 vs. Dynamo Moscow W 8-7 Program Game Notes
1986-87 3/27/1987 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 4-3 Program

1987-88

1987-88 12/26/1987 @ Wichita Wings L 5-4 Program
1987-88 1/15/1988 @ Los Angeles Lazers W 10-4 Program
1987-88 3/18/1988 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 12-6 Program

1988-89

1988-89 12/3/1988 @ Los Angeles Lazers W 6-2 Program
1988-89 1/7/1989 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 6-1 Program
1988-89 2/7/1989 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 10-7 Program
1988-89 3/16/1989 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 3-2 Program
1988-89 6/2/1989 @ San Diego Sockers  L 5-2 Program
1988-89 6/4/1989 @ San Diego Sockers  L 4-3 Program
1988-89 6/6/1989 @ San Diego Sockers  w 6-3 Program
1988-89 6/10/1989 vs. San Diego Sockers  L 6-5 Video

1989-90

1989-90 4/20/1990 @ Cleveland Crunch  W 7-6 (OT) Program

 

 

==Key Players==

 

==In Memoriam==

Blast defender Mike Reynolds passed away at age 27 on July 1, 1991, two days after suffering a stroke at a Blast promotional event.

Former MISL MVP Stan Stamenkovic (Blast ’83-’88) died from a slip-and-fall in Serbia on January 28, 1996.  He was 39.

English forward Paul Crossley (Blast ’80-’83) died from a heart attack at the age of 47 on March 11, 1996.

Former Blast owner Nathan Scherr (’84-’88) died of Parkinson’s disease on November 21, 2003 at age 80. Baltimore Sun obit.

Canadian striker Domenic Mobilio (’89-’92) died of a heart attack on November 13, 2004 at the age of 35.

Paul Kitson (’83-’86) died of a heart attack while conducting a soccer clinic on August 25, 2005.  Kitson was 49.

Goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski (Blast ’88-’89) passed away July 14, 2008 at age 58 after suffering a ruptured aorta during a soccer game.

Billy Ronson (’86-’92) passed away of undisclosed causes on April 8, 2015. Ronson was 58.

 

==YouTube==

Blast vs. San Diego Sockers. 1983 MISL Championship Series Game 4 at Baltimore Arena. May 19, 1983.

==Downloads==

2-3-1987 Baltimore Blast vs. Dynamo Moscow Game Program

 

==Links==

The Blast had one at last“, E.M. Swift, Sports Illustrated, June 18, 1984

Major It Never Was, but Covering Soccer Was a Blast“, Melody Simmons, The Baltimore Sun, July 19, 1992

Major Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs

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January 15, 1988 – Los Angeles Lazers vs. Baltimore Blast

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Paul ChildLos Angeles Lazers vs. Baltimore Blast
January 15, 1988
The Forum
Attendance: 5,984

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
68 pages

 

This is a rare late-era program from the original Major Indoor Soccer League (1978-1992) featuring National Soccer Hall of Famer Paul Child on the cover.

The 1987-88 MISL season was the final year of Child’s 16-year playing career in the United States, where he excelled in both the outdoor and indoor games.  35 years old by this time and playing for his third indoor team in three winters, he finished out strong with a 40-goal camapaign for the Los Angeles Lazers.  The bulk of his indoor career was spent with the MISL’s Pittsburgh Spirit from 1981 to 1986.  The English-born Child still makes his home in the Steel City.

The best years of Child’s outdoor career were spent with the original San Jose Earthquakes of the NASL from 1974-1979.  He was one of the original Earthquakes stars and was honored with induction in the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in November 2013.  They made this cool video:

 

==Links==

Baltimore Blast Home Page

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

May 4th, 2014 at 1:42 am

April 28, 1985 – Los Angeles Lazers vs. Baltimore Blast

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Dave MacWilliams Baltimore BlastLos Angeles Lazers vs. Baltimore Blast
MISL Quarterfinal Playoffs, Game 3
April 28, 1985
The Forum
Attendance: 4,673

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
60 pages

 

This is yet another pull from the huge collection of Los Angeles Lazers indoor soccer programs we picked up from a California sports museum earlier this month.  The third and final match of a best-of-five Major Indoor Soccer League quarterfinal playoff series between the Lazers and the defending champion Baltimore Blast at the Fabulous Forum.

Dave MacWilliams of the Blast was pictured on the cover of the Missile Magazine game program for this game and the choice was prophetic.  MacWilliams was the MISL’s leading American-born scorer during the 1984-85 season and he netted a hat trick against the Lazers here in Game 3 to spark Baltimore to 5-4 win and a sweep of the best-of-five series.

Another notable player in this game was the Lazers’ 23-year old rookie goalkeeper Tim Harris, who drew the start for this win-or-go-home elimination match.  Harris was born in nearby Torrance and played collegiately at UCLA.  He earned one cap for the U.S. National Team in 1985, but he had the misfortune to come into pro soccer during a particularly grim period for the American game, just as the outdoor North American Soccer League was drawing its final breaths.  Harris played for five seasons, including three with the Lazers from 1984 to 1987.  During that time there was no national outdoor league and American players were not in demand overseas.  Indoor soccer was basically the only professional option for American players born in the early 1960’s like Harris.

The Lazers went out of business in 1989.  Several years later the club’s former owner, the late Dr. Jerry Buss, hired Harris to work in the front office for his NBA team, the Los Angeles Lakers.  Today Harris is the Chief Operating Officer of the Lakers.

 

 

==Downloads==

April 28, 1985 Baltimore Blast Roster

April 28, 1985 Los Angeles Lazers Roster

 

==Links==

Baltimore Blast Home Page

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

February 27th, 2014 at 12:26 am

April 15, 1984 – Cleveland Force vs. Baltimore Blast

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Cleveland Force vs. Baltimore Blast
April 15, 1984
The Richfield Coliseum
Attendance: 18,267

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
124 pages

 

This late season Major Indoor Soccer League match between Eastern Division rivals the Cleveland Force and Baltimore Blast drew a huge Sunday night crowd of 18,267 to the old Richfield Coliseum.  Hard to believe today, but the sport of indoor soccer really was a huge draw in a handful of cities in the early 1980’s.  The 1983-84 season was the year that attendance for the Cleveland Force really exploded.  The team averaged 13,675 per match and outdrew their Richfield Coliseum co-tenant – NBA’s sad sack Cleveland Cavaliers – by 120,000 fans.

With that kind of atmosphere the Force were tough to beat at home.  They went 18-6 at the Coliseum en route to a 31-17 record in 1983-84.  The Force featured two of the top three scorers in the league in Kai Haaskivi and Craig Allen.  But the Baltimore Blast were even better.  Captain Dave MacWilliams (pictured on the night’s game program) led the Blast to a league-best 34-14 record.  Serbian forward Stan Stamenkovic nudged out Allen and Haaskivi for the league scoring title.

The Blast would frustrate the Force and the big crowd on this night, as they would all season.  The Force got on the board first on a Peter Millar goal and outshot the visitors 29-16.  But the Blast made their shots count, with goals from cover boy MacWilliams, Stamenkovic and Pat Ercoli to eke out a 3-2 victory.

The teams would meet again a month later in the MISL playoff semi-finals with the Blast sweeping the Force in a best-of-five series.  It was the second of five straight seasons from 1983 to 1987 that the Force went deep into the playoffs, only to be eliminated in the semi-final series (three times at the hands of Baltimore).   The Blast, meanwhile, went on to win their first and only MISL championship in the spring of 1984, defeating the St. Louis Steamers in the finals.

 

==Links==

Baltimore Blast Home Page

Cleveland Force Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

October 22nd, 2012 at 11:56 pm