Turkey Bowl 100: Devoted over distance, time

There may be longer Turkey Bowl attendance streaks, but few have embraced one of Maryland’s most enduring sporting traditions as fervently as Ed Romans and Bill Korrow.

Romans, Calvert Hall class of 1958, was “too skinny” for prep football, but his passion is such that he has missed only one Turkey Bowl since 1953. Romans was a freshman, out of Little Flower School, when he saw seniors decorating cars for the big game. The deal was sealed the following year, when the Cardinals won, 20-0.

“I came home for Thanksgiving dinner, and could not talk,” he said, “because I had been yelling all game.”

The military tested his zeal. Thanksgiving 1960 saw him stationed in Fort Monmouth, N.J., but he secured leave and returned home for the game. Over 65 years, his lone absence was 1961, when he was stationed in South Korea.

A year later, he was based at Redstone Arsenal outside Huntsville, Ala. Today, the 750-mile drive to Belair-Edison requires at least 12 hours. Before Interstate 81, in a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air, it was a tad more arduous.

Whether he was working for AT&T or Westinghouse, Romans remained true to his school. He began taking his son, Phil, Calvert Hall ‘92, to the game. Now the entourage includes two college-aged grandsons who live in Delaware.

“I’ve just enjoyed the camaraderie,” Romans said. “That, and you always want to beat Loyola.

He worships at St. Isaac Jogues in Carney.

Korrow married into Loyola Blakefield, where he found professional fulfillment and even more family. An assistant coach, he will work the Dons’ sideline for the 50th – and final – year.

He experienced Friday Night Lights in Virginia, then went to Towson State Teachers College, where, he said, “I never knew where Loyola High was. I had no reason to go up Charles Street. That was in the boondocks.”

He married Jane Fassio, whose father, Art, was in its class of 1943, and whose four brothers all attended Loyola. He was hired to teach Greek and Roman history, and coach freshman football.

That was in 1970, when the Turkey Bowl was played at Memorial Stadium and its most famous tenant, the Baltimore Colts, were about to win their third and final NFL championship. When Korrow hands out jerseys, the kid getting No. 24 is still told, “Lenny Moore, look it up.”

“My mother lived and died with the Colts and Orioles,” said Korrow, who attends St. Francis Xavier in Hunt Valley. “To be in the same locker room used by the guys I watched growing up, it was a chilling experience.”

Perhaps it was his game day attire. Regardless of how cold it gets Nov. 28, Korrow will wear shorts.

He is 71, and has spent most of his adult life in physical education, teaching boys how to play. In addition to 50 seasons of football, he has coached five other sports at Loyola Blakefield.

A true “man for others,” Korrow and his family got a unique insight into that Jesuit ideal in January 1993, when his only son, Billy, died at age 12. The 27th annual Billy Korrow 5K will be held on campus next May 3.

He has become as much a part of the school’s fabric as his mentors, Joe Brune, John Stewart and the late Jerry Savage.

“I was surrounded by great people in the generation in front of me,” Korrow said. “They were dedicated to the school and its mission, and I bought into that.”

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Email Paul McMullen at pmcmullen@CatholicReview.org

Paul McMullen

Paul McMullen

Paul McMullen has served as the managing editor of the Catholic Review since 2008.

The author of two books, Paul has been involved in local media since age 12, when he began delivering The News American to 80 homes in his neighborhood. He began his journalism career with the Capital-Gazette Newspapers in Anne Arundel County, and spent more than 25 years as a sports writer for The Sun in Baltimore. His favorite writing assignments have included the Summer Olympics in Australia and Greece, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and “Feet for Francis,” a 2015 walking pilgrimage from the Baltimore Basilica to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis.