East Baltimore has always been known as a hotbed for soccer. In fact, if Highlandtown was a microcosm of the sports world, soccer might very well be our nation’s preferred pastime. And for those who grew up along the streets nearby Eastern Avenue embracing the game, they’d put up a prideful argument touting the game’s virtues.
A few of my very best friends in life are soccer aficionados. There are five of us on a daily text thread and we’ll touch on various topics of life. Quite often the thread veers in the direction of soccer. Well, it moves in that direction for four of us. They’ll all chatter about the Premier League and Man U and local legends of the game and I’ll go into mute, having next to nothing to contribute to the conversation other than an occasional dig at the overly dramatic flopping “futbol” players are known for.
That said, recently one of my buddies, Tommy Costantini, brought my attention to the nostalgic video below – certainly worthy of your time if you are a fan of the sport or simply a fan of Baltimore folklore.
Despite being rather passive when it comes to the sport, the WMAR-2 News video left me wanting more, so I leaned on another of my soccer-loving brothers, Mario Scilipoti, for a deeper dive down memory lane. Here’s what he shared…
Besides boasting the accolades of Italia Pompeii , East Baltimore was the soccer Mecca in Maryland. Having claimed a National Jr Open Cup with St. Elizabeth’s 1971, a NJCAA National Champion in 1974 for Essex Community College, a NCAA Division II National Championship in 1975 for The University of Baltimore and in 1976 another NCAA II National Championship for Loyola College.
And we would be remiss not to mention Amateur Cup prominence teams of the 70’s and 80’s such as Casa Bianca, the foundation of great soccer teams and those players and coaches who revert back to a small patch of grass on Claremont Street.
The Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame is laced with names from the neighborhood – from the streets of East Baltimore.
Baltimore is a city with rich traditions and as Mario often reminds me, “tradition never graduates”.
To boys-to-men of Claremont Street, thank you for the memories…