Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cheerleaders: Perfect Boots for '58 Title Game 

Posted by James at 8:31 PM ET

By Dave Carey
The Baltimore Examiner
Fifty years later, Marge Schmidt's least favorite memory of the Colts' 1958 NFL championship was the winning touchdown.

Schmidt and twin sister Doris Snyder were overwhelmed with joy, as they watched Colts running back Alan Ameche power across the goal line to give Baltimore the title from their seats in the bleachers fewer than 100 feet from the historic event.

But their elation quickly turned to fear.

Hundreds of fans stormed the field and trampled everything in their path -- including the pair of Colts majorettes who were quivering in trepidation.

"They set up empty chairs all around us," Snyder said of the six majorettes. "But people were pushing past us and someone ripped my hat right off."

"Someone tried to rip mine off, but it was tied on," Schmidt said. "It really yanked my head back."

The 82-year-old Southern High (Baltimore City) graduates, however, have many fond memories of the championship game and their years with the Colts Marching Band. Snyder was a member of the inaugural majorettes in 1947, earning a place on the six-member squad that performed with the band during halftime. Schmidt joined her sister a year later, donning the iconic white cap and vest and blue skirt and blouse.

"It just looked like so much fun," Schmidt said, sitting with her sister in her Annapolis home. "It was so great to be part of the Colts."

But the sisters had been twirling batons and entertaining halftime crowds since high school. Schmidt even remembers buying her first pair of white cowboy boots for $7 out of a Montgomery Ward catalog in 1942 when she as 15. The boots served her well, vowing "not to get rid of them until the Colts won a championship," and having them resoled every summer before the season.

In 1953 following a a Colts game against San Francisco at Memorial Stadium, a photographer asked Schmidt to assist him, by having her put her leg up while 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle autographed her left boot. But Schmidt didn't even blink about wearing the boots to perform halftime routines with the rare signature -- she just wanted a Colts title.

"The men at the shoe store," Schmidt said, "they used to always say to my husband, 'Tell Miss Marge this is the last time we can fix these."

Schmidt, however, had a feeling about the 1958 season.

The Colts kept winning, and when the band prepared to perform during halftime of the championship game against the Giants, she turned to her sister and fellow majorettes and gave the following proclamation: "You can say good-bye to these boots, because this is going to be it for them."

A few hours later, her prognosis looked grim. The Colts were trailing, 17-14, with just a few minutes left. Snyder, who snuck a bottle of champagne into the game, popped the cork, and the majorettes and band members began passing it around.

"We thought it was over," Snyder said, remembering how cold it was passing the bottle. "We figured we might as well get an early start [with drinking]."

Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas, however, made sure it actually was an early start on the celebration, leading the team to a 23-17 overtime win that nearly led to the sisters getting trampled.

And that was it for the boots.

A few months later at a banquet for a group of junior majorettes Schmidt helped coach, her late husband, Walter, presented the footwear to her as an award -- bronzed.

"They said afterwards I should have won an Academy Award," Schmidt said with a laugh. "I was crying, and smiling and laughing and acting like a ham."

Today, the boots sit in her living room, prominently displayed by the television with a spot cut out in the wall for each, serving as a symbol for one of the greatest days of her life.

"They're my most prized possession."

Colts 1958
Twin sisters Marge Schmidt, left, and Doris Snyder, were both majorettes when the Colts won the NFL title in 1958.

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