When I Met Art Donovan

Art Donovan

My wife and I looked at a few different wedding venues. Some were in hotels, others in more scenic locations. Most of them looked the same, there was a dance floor, a place for the ceremony and a bar. Like all smart grooms, I would have said yes to whatever she liked the most.

Then we visited Valley Country Club. She fell in love with the mansion, it’s elegant grand staircase and beautiful fireplaces and I loved the sports bar decorated with Art Donovan‘s memorabilia.

The Colts Hall of Famer owned the country club and it had just become the perfect place for a Baltimore sports fan and his bride to get married.

When we took the tour of the mansion we were promised that Donovan would stop by to say “hello” and he certainly did. While Rebecca picked out table cloths and centerpieces, my dad and I sat down with a pro football legend as he enjoyed a few Schlitz’s and told us stories. Even into his 80s, Donovan was sharp and quick-witted. He made us laugh and answered all of our questions. He conversed with us and the conversation never slowed.

Art threw a quick wisecrack at my mom when she dragged me away from the conversation and back into wedding planning and then laughed hysterically when she didn’t get the punch line.¬†Before dad and I were pulled away from Art he was kind enough to pose for a picture and a sign a couple beer cans.

As our big day got closer we were told that Donovan may stop by to enjoy a few beverages in the bar. I loved the idea and knew that our guest list would too. Your wedding day flies by in the blink of an eye, but I still enjoy looking at my digital picture frame and seeing pictures pop up of different family and friends who stopped in the bar to take a picture and talk football with Art. I’m sure they will remember that moment forever.

I was born 20 years after Donovan was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 27 years after he retired, but I’ll always remember our conversation and the way he treated everyone he came in contact with at our wedding.

Rest in peace, Art Donovan.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.

11 Comments

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  4. MGW

    August 5, 2013 at 6:42 am

    As I remember, that night, his daughter, Debbie, knew that we were eagerly awaiting his arrival. She promised he’d be there, drew us up two chairs, and we waited as the ladies scoured the beautiful mansion. Sitting down with Hall of Famer Artie Donavon and being able to listen to 30 minutes of his story telling was indeed an honor for me, as well. He talked with us as if we were old buddies and never acted as if we were just star-struck fans. He was a real man of the people. I feel honored to have met him and shared a moment with him and my son.

  5. Karen

    August 5, 2013 at 8:06 am

    My husband and I had our wedding reception at the lovely Valley Country Club way back in 1979. We were lucky enough to have Artie actually tend the bar for a while. He charmed all of our guests and even my husbands family, all die-hard Redskins fans, were enchanted with him. They still talk about our wedding to this day! RIP Artie.

  6. Willo

    August 5, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Thanks to Zach and Rebecca’s generosity I also had the opportunity to sit and chat with Mr. Donovan. At the reception, I connected with Artie III who was tending bar and asked if Dad really drank Schlitz and if he would be making the scene that evening. Artie provided me with a can of Schlitz unopened (which I still have) told me not to tell Dad when I see him because he always stops by when there is an event, tells some stories makes guests welcome, has a few Schlitz and then makes his way to his place up the hill. I asked if when Art arrived he would give me a sign, as I ‘d like to say thanks for not only football memories but the laughs he provided in Fatso and on Lettermen. At the encounter, Mr. Donovan was a gentlemen’s gentlemen and talked to me like we were long lost buddies. With his passing we lost not only a sport’s hero but a person who could positively change your mood just by being himself. The world won’t be as charismatic without Art in it Hail number 70…God bless.

    • MGW

      August 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Well put, brother Will. Guys like Artie, Brooksie, and Johnny U. are what makes us proud to be a Baltimore fan. Also had an opportunity to work with Brooksie as an 18 year old working at a Crown gas station. He too is a gentlemen’s gentleman.

      • spy

        August 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

        Amen,,,,,,love the really good guys and we have had our share,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  7. spy

    August 5, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I believe it was 1960 , my Dad and I were on our way to Westminster to watch the Colts practice,,,,,,,,,,we stopped at the Diner on route 40 and who was in the booth next to us,,,,,,,Thats right it was Art Donovan and Chuck Thompson , after we ate they chatted with us for a few minutes , not very long but I remember it was like talking to my neighbors,,,,,,,,,,I still have the 8mm film I took of him that day , it’s in the garage somewhere , I guess I will have to dig it up now,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,r.i.p. to both Artie and Chuck , we are better people to have known them……………..

  8. 9inchnails

    August 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I never had the pleasure of meeting Artie and my wedding invitation must have been lost in the mail but I would have loved to sit down and drink some Colt 45′s with Artie!

  9. tammy mcguire KNAUER

    August 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    MY DAD ED KNAUER AND ARTIE WENT WAY BACK AS A CHILD I REMEMBER GOING TO THE COUNTRY CLUB PLAYING WITH CHRISSY AND DEBBIE AND SWIMMING IN THAT HUGE POOL :) DEBBIE EVEN CAME TO OUR HOUSE AND WENT HORSE BACK RIDDING THEY WERE THE GOOD OLD DAYS! DAD HAS PASSED AND NOW ARTIE I GUESS THEY ARE IN HEAVEN HAVING A BEER AND ALOT OF HOTDOGS! R I P ARTIE