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Despite 35 seasons of Colts football in Indy, memories of midnight Mayflower move remain vivid

When the Colts packed up the Mayflower trucks and rolled out of Baltimore, then-administrative assistant Pete Ward was one of the few who knew.

"Jim Irsay told me late in the day of the move, 'My dad says we are moving to Indianapolis tonight. Go home, get your personal life in order and be back here in a couple of hours because there will be 14 trucks coming into our complex,’” Ward recalled.

The snowy, middle-of-the-night move is one the now-Colts chief operating officer remembers well.

"It was an adrenaline-filled night, a lot of mixed emotions because we were leaving a lot of great fans behind, but we were coming to a city that was so excited about getting an NFL team and Indianapolis welcomed us with open arms."

Barry Krauss was a first-round pick of the Baltimore Colts, and although there had long been rumors of a move, he didn't know until the following day.

"I called Jim Irsay because I was the alternate player rep,” the former linebacker explained. “I said, ‘Jimmy, what’s going on? Did the team move?’”

“And he goes, ‘Yes, it did.’ And I said, ‘Well, what am I going to do? I have a house here.’  And he said, ‘If you want a job, you better find a way to Indianapolis.’”

Then-Mayor Bill Hudnut was there to welcome those Mayflower trucks with open arms. For those players who made the move with the team, like Krauss, an introduction to Indy in the form of a packed and pristine Hoosier Dome was all the Hoosier homecoming they needed.

"We walk out there on stage and there are 15,000 people there,” Krauss recalled. “And Bob Irsay comes up and Mayor Hudnut, everybody's like pumped up and I’m like this is great I’m so excited, because it isn't working in Baltimore."

And the franchise celebrates 35 years in Indy, it has long surpassed its Baltimore tenure.

"The interesting thing, we have been here now 35 years and we were in Baltimore for 31 years, so we have actually been here longer than the franchise was ever in Baltimore,” Ward explained.

"Thirty-five years from now, I hope we are sitting here again talking about it."