When Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay spirited his team out of Baltimore in March 1984, literally moving under the cover of darkness, he gave football fans only one more reason to dislike him. “He’s a sick guy,” former Colts star Johnny Unitas has said, “and what happened to the Colts was a disgrace to sports.” In Baltimore, where the team, but not Irsay, is missed, former Sun writer Jim Bready says, “It’s a case of good riddance.”
Harriet Irsay, Bob’s wife of 38 years, did not oppose the move—but maybe she should have. “All the time Bob was scheming to move the Colts out of Baltimore,” huffs Harriet, 64, “he was also scheming to get rid of me.” Last June Bob, 62, moved from the couple’s spacious ranch house in Winnetka, III. (one of three residences they own) to an apartment near the home of his new love, Sandra Volid, the 40ish widow of King Korn stamps potentate Peter Volid.
The first Harriet knew of the separation, the feisty redhead says, “was when I called my maid from Florida. She told me all his clothes were gone—and the fish tank. He took the 55-gallon tank we kept behind the bar. Did he think I was going to take it out on the fish?”
Actually she has bigger ones to fry. Having filed for divorce last June, Harriet is demanding her fair share of the couple’s estimated $100 million in assets. (Irsay built a giant heating and air-conditioning company, which he sold in 1971.) Harriet has called her husband a drunkard and a compulsive gambler and claimed he misappropriated Colts funds to buy a $1 million home in Indiana. Most hurtful of all, she has accused him of doing a lousy job running the franchise.
Harriet believes she can do better—and she hopes to wrest the team, worth $50 to $75 million, from Bob as part of the property settlement. (In the meantime, she is existing on payments from Bob of $20,000 a month.) In her fight for the Colts, which could come to trial by year end, she has found some ready allies. “I ran into some new Colts fans,” says Mrs. Irsay, “and they told me they’d stand on the street corner, rooting for me.”