Legend has it that nobody knew exactly how fast Lenny Moore, the great National Football League Hall of Fame half-back and flanker for the Baltimore Colts, actually was. They say he ran just fast enough to not ever be caught from behind.
But as phenomenal as he was on the field perhaps the greatest measure of the man Moore comes after his playing days with the work he’s done to improve the quality of life in this city.
In any case, few can argue Lenny Moore like his sports contemporaries Baltimore Colts quarterback John Unitas and Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson deserves to be honored with a statue in the town he has contributed so much to.
“I think all of us would have to agree…that one of the greatest football players Baltimore has ever experienced, along with the great Johnny Unitas, the name of Lenny Moore has to be at least stated on the same level,” said Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Action Network and coordinator of a committee to erect a commemorative statue in honor of Moore.
Cheatham organized a meeting at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25 – the day Moore celebrated his 78th birthday – in an effort to begin the process of honoring Moore who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
Moore began racking up his eye-popping statistics on the field in 1956 when he was named NFL rookie of the year.
In 1958, the year the Colts captured their first world championship beating the New York Giants in what is known by many as, “the greatest game ever,” Moore had one of the greatest offensive seasons ever. He averaged more than seven yards a carry as a halfback – an unheard of number – a feat he would accomplish two more times during his career. He also caught 50 passes as a flanker back that year for 938 yards.
Moore, known as “Spats,” for his habit of wrapping his black cleats in white tape scored a touchdown in 18 consecutive appearances starting in 1963 and ending in 1965, a record that stood for 40 years before it was equaled in 2005 by LaDainian Tomlinson.
But, Moore is still the only man to have at least 40 rushing touchdowns and 40 receiving touchdowns during his incredible career.
“If you just look at the balance of Lenny Moore’s career as an athlete, as a professional football player certainly it’s equal to Brooks Robinson or Johnny Unitas,” said Lewis Hudnell, an attorney and local sports commentator.
“That’s why I have him at number four all-time in front of the great Walter Payton because he was a halfback and a flanker,” Hudnell added.
A statue of Robinson, the multiple gold-glove winning Hall of Fame third baseman for the Orioles, was unveiled in front of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in October.
And a statue of Unitas was revealed in October 2002 in front of M&T Bank Stadium. And Moore’s quintessential calling cards of grace and class were on display during the ceremony honoring his friend and teammate who had died about a month earlier.
“John, yes, he deserves everything they can possibly give him,” Moore said then. “He certainly deserves the statue and all the accolades that go with it.”
And many people in Baltimore and indeed across the nation believe the time has come to honor Moore the same way while he’s still able to appreciate it.
“I know of no individual, be he Black or White, male or female, rich or poor that has contributed so much to a community…in the areas of education, of healthcare, of juvenile justice issues,” Cheatham said. “After Lenny Moore left the Baltimore Colts, he has spent almost two lifetimes basically helping here in Baltimore City,” Cheatham added.
“I think Brooks Robinson is well deserving of his statue and Johnny as well of his, but you cannot leave out Lenny Moore,” Cheatham said.
“And the fact that we have not erected one, it’s long overdue and it’s time for us to come together and put it together.”
Cheatham says those who would like to help in the effort to honor Moore with a statue can reach out via email to email@example.com or contact Cheatham by phone at: 410.669.8683.