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Tom Matte: Baltimore to The Core

Tom Matte
Photo Credit: The Sun
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Tom Matte Passes at The Age of 82

Throughout our lives, inevitably, we will meet people who are forces of nature. Their charismatic ways attract us and their innate gregariousness invites you in as if you’ve known them for years despite having just met. Their personalities fill a room and make the immediate surroundings brighter than it was before entering it. Tom Matte was one of those people.

As a kid watching our Baltimore Colts, Matte was one of my favorites probably because he was one of Dad’s favorites too. Dad’s affinity for Matte made me pay more attention and it wasn’t long before I shared Dad’s fondness of the player and the man.

Tom didn’t possess the greatest skillset but he did glean the most from his talents. He was smart, worked hard, hustled and he was an outstanding teammate. Dad affectionately referred to Matte as the “Trash Can”. I took that to mean that he was tough, durable, dependable and necessary.

His voice was distinctive and even though he was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in the Cleveland area, Matte was Baltimore to the core. He loved the town and it loved him back. Like his close friend John Unitas, Matte disowned the Colts franchise when it move in the middle of a snowy night to Indianapolis, tearing at the fabric of Charm City’s sports heritage.

When Baltimore returned to the NFL, Matte was paired up with Scott Garceau to broadcast the games of the town’s new team – the Ravens. Much like Vince Bagli was to Chuck Thompson during Colts radio broadcasts, Matte was to Garceau while on the call for the Ravens. When things went well, Tom shared in our jubilation. When a referee missed a call, Matte fought that battle for us. And when things didn’t go so well, Tom channeled the inner turmoil on our behalf.

Essentially, he was one of us.

Tom Matte
Ravens Radio broadcast team: Scott Garceau (left), Tom Matte (right). Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens

Later in life my paths crossed with Matte’s a few times. We shared a stage a few times along with another of his great friends Bruce Laird, during the Ravens Rap, hosted by Steve Pappas and The Original Greene Turtle in Ocean City. Later on we would break bread on a couple of occasions, kicking around ideas about ways in which we could work together. We never really landed on anything that was mutually beneficial but the hours spent together were memorable. How could they not be when shared with this affable personality who commanded a room – who was a childhood hero.

Yesterday I texted Scott Garceau to express my condolences for the loss of his dear friend. Scott thanked me and added, “Sixty years in Baltimore. He loved people and gave his heart and soul to our town. [The] 7th pick in the first round [of the 1961 NFL Draft]…Tom told me that was worth $7,500.”

Imagine that!

Tom Matte will be missed by all who knew him and all who didn’t. And that’s really a testament to the man he was – the gift he was to Baltimore.

Rest in peace you good old “Trash Can”.

I thought to share with you a few things that came up during my search of Tom Matte related topics. If you don’t know much about Tom, these videos and Twitter posts will help you to make the connection in the same way that Tom would pull you in when he walked into any room.

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