It hasn’t been much to look at over the past 20 years or so, but in the early 1980s, this little store on the west corner of Laurel Plaza was something special. Bob Windsor’s All-Pro Sports was ahead of its time.
Bob Windsor was an NFL tight end, and by most accounts, a pretty good one at that. He was the second-round draft choice for the San Francisco 49ers in 1966. In his five years there, he made the All Rookie Team and was an All Pro selection. Traded to the New England Patriots for a number one draft choice in 1971, he played another five years before retiring in 1976. It was that year that he returned to his native Washington, DC area and opened his immensely popular store in Laurel.
Growing up at Steward Manor Apartments just across Routes 198 and 197, I was fortunate to live within walking distance. And I took advantage of it, visiting early and often during those summer months. The store had everything a sports fan could want: jerseys, pennants, stickers, hats, jackets, lamps, trashcans—all licensed merchandise for seemingly every team in every pro sport. And this was on top of Bob’s outstanding selection of sneakers and other brand name sports apparel and equipment. He actually carried a better selection in this modest corner shop than many of today’s mammoth retailers, and he did it in an era when most of these items were only available through mail order catalogs.
Bob also cornered the market on local youth sports, silkscreening uniforms for Laurel High’s teams as well as those of the Laurel Boys & Girls Club and Maryland City Mustangs. (To this day, I still have my very first Mustangs jersey from 1980, and my Eisenhower Middle School gym t-shirt from 1984—both of which would now barely fit my dogs).
But as a kid growing up in Laurel, the best part really was Bob Windsor himself. At 6’4, he was already larger than life; tack on his genuine personality and good nature, and he was a legitimate role model—and something of a local celebrity to us all. In fact, for many kids from our neighborhood, the autographed 8 x 10 glossies that Bob happily gave out upon request were the first autographs we ever received. And, I’d be willing to bet I’m not the only one who still has mine. 🙂
Postscript: I’ve also tracked down some of Bob Windsor’s early team photos with the ‘Niners—a team that included a young Steve Spurrier at quarterback. Bob is #89, Spurrier is #11.
[…] being Super Bowl Sunday, Laurelites will surely recognize this young San Francisco 49er—and later popular Laurel businessman. Eventually a member of the New England Patriots as well, Bob Windsor will undoubtedly be watching […]
[…] market. And throughout the 1980s, the Laurel Herman’s store likely cut into the profits of Bob Windsor’s All-Pro Sports—the only other sporting goods retailer in […]
I stumbled upon this article of yours today when I googled Bob Windsor because, like you, I grew up in MD City in the 80’s. My father was MD City’s Little League president for a number of years, as well as a baseball, football & basketball coach as well as an umpire & referee. We spent many hours in All Pro Sports & I remember walking in the door, holding my father’s hand & looking up at Bob who was even taller than my big bear of a dad! He always had a huge smile on his face & was extremely kind to all of us kids. He took time to talk to every customer & knew many of us by name. I have wonderful memories of Bob & All Pro Sports & I really wish Laurel could get back to its old glory. Thanks for sharing your memories with the rest of us.
REBECCA Thanks for bringing back the wonderful memories i miss all my wonderful customers.always your friends,BOB
I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking to my 8 and 12 gear old grandsons and telling them what fun we had at Montgomery Blair High School as classmates and watching you play football to the state champs. What a great trip down “memory Lane”. I told them you were the sweet, kind matter of fact fella you still are…and a pro! Great memories of life. Joani LENETT Whinston. Sam and Max say hi too! Best Regards and wishes
Hi, Bob! I was a customer service rep in Laurel and used to sell t-shirts to you in the early 90s. We loved it when you came into our store. I am football fan because of how lovingly you talked about the Patriots! Would love to reconnect and see how you’re doing!
Very interesting to see, I was in your shoes about 20 years before you, same place different time
thank you for this post! i have always been hazy about why i have always been a NE Patriots fan since i wasn’t from New England. My father was in the Army and we were never in one place too long…but spent 4 years at Ft.Meade. I tell people i met a Patriots tight end when i was little and that he was so cool i started rooting for them….that autographed photo of Bob Windsor brings it all back!! amazing. thanks again.
This is awesome, I also grew up in Steward Manor and Bob used to come watch us play football at the top of the apts. We loved his store!
[…] Shuffle”) was none other than Bob Windsor—the former NFL tight end who owned the wonderful Bob Windsor’s All-Pro Sports at Laurel Plaza Shopping Center throughout the 1970s and 80s. Bob was going to be there signing […]
Although we only met a couple times, Bob and I are relatives through my grandmother, Ruth Blakeney. He didn’t know how proud I was to find out we were related. His mom gave my grandmother a signed picture to give to me
when he was with the 49ers and also one when he was with the Patriots. I showed those pics to the neighborhood boys and they were always impressed that we were related. Although they complained to me when Bob scored a touchdown against the Redskins in the 1971 playoffs. I also remember watching the game he hurt his knee against the Vikings. He was also a dominant player for the WWDC wonders basketball team in the 70’s, playing alongside Johnny Holiday, Daryl Stingley and a few other well known names at the time. Later in the 80’s, he gave me a nice discount for our Alexandria Recreation League team sponsored by Kay Jewelers.
When I was a little boy, my father took me to Bob Windsor’s All-Pro Sports regularly. I was getting interested in football, and after meeting Bob, my favorite team quickly became the Patriots. I am a high school graphic designer teacher now, but even at the early at of eight, I was already fascinated with logos and insignia.
So, my Dad took me every couple of weeks or so to help me build my NFL pennants collection. Every time we went, Bob was there. When it was time to check out at the register, Bob would ask me a trivia question- and the answer was always “Bob Windsor”. For example, “John, who was picked 26th overall in the 1966 NFL Draft?” When I replied “Bob Windsor,” he would wink and tell me to go pick out another pennant. Free of charge of course.
It’s little things like those moments that stick with you forever. I’m 44 now, and the memories are still with me.
I wish I knew how to get in touch with him to share that. Celebrities do nothing for me. I’ve never been star struck. Couldn’t care less about autographs. People are just people. Being famous doesn’t make you a better person. Being a better person makes you a better person. He proved that. I do not revere him for being a great football legend. I revere him for teaching me at such an early age how important being a good man is.
I, of course, had his signed photograph, but unfortunately it was damaged badly when I was in middle school and it had to be thrown away. It’s the only autograph I’ve ever had, and the only one I’d care to have now. What I wouldn’t give it back, a daily reminder to be a better man.
Mr. Windsor as I knew him, was always kind to all of us kids that grew up in goodman road and goodman court in Laurel Maryland, My whole family was there when he first opened for business. Thank you Mr. Windsor for always being so kind, we still have pictures of you and your autograph pictures.
I’m 73 years old. I went to high school with Bob Windsor. He was a football and basketball star then, a fabulous guy, A pioneer in the sports shoe business and a really good friend. We sat next to each other in history class and it’s been a joy seeing him over the years at high school reunions and knowing he’s still the same great guy he was. He never has forgotten his roots. PS. My husband says he has a brutal handshake. Love him.
Joani Lenett Whinston
Cherry Hill, NJ
I played against Bob in high school (Bladensburg) both in football & basketball. Montgomery Blair was always the team to beat back then and Bob & Tommy Brown and others always had great teams. I sure remember Bob as a ferocious rebounder in basketball often out rebounding our own 6’10” Jay Buckley. After college my wife & I bought our 1st home in Maryland City around 1974. I coached the teen boys basketball in Maryland City along with my deceased neighbor Jack O’hara. Those were great years and then later on Bob opened his store in the Laurel Plaza shopping center. I took my young son into Bob’s one day and sure enough here comes that big guy welcoming us in. Bob was quite an athlete and an even nicer guy.
[…] Instead, my mind went directly to Laurel’s all-time favorite sporting goods store owner, Bob Windsor. Bob had actually played for the New England Patriots, and would always give customers an […]
Hello Bob, I doubt if you remember me, but we played basketball against each other in the mid-60s. You were at Montgomery JC and I was at Catonsville CC. You guys had a really good team, and we never did beat you, but we came close a couple times. I still shoot around at the local Y, but do to knee and leg problems can no longer play. Congratulations on your career in the NFL and your sporting goods store! Bud Rudacille, CCC, 1963-65
Bob Windsors!?!?! YESS!!
Wow, I am So Loving your post here, its so wonderful to see that incredible building again!!
My favorite store of all time!!!
My name is Darrin Miller
I practically grew up in laurel.
Spent most of my childhood there with my parents. I lived right outside in Severn.
Ive been really heavily thinking about these days of Bob Windsors store alot lately, ive finally decided to look it up to hopefully find something, and this is Great!!
Man, the memories!
The thing I loved most was the sneakers!
I remember gettin jackets, gym bags,lacrosse stick, and so much , but mostly was the sneakers! That place!!… There was definitely nothing else around like it !
Thr 80s was the greatest ever!!!
The quality of clothes n shoes!
The genuine selections!
I was in a break dancing group
And Bob Windsors had a contest outside once.
Oh what a time!!
I always think about that place, cause I still collect vintage sneakers, and BW Always comes to mind. Then i start remeiniscing
Dang I Miss that place!
I really miss Old Laurel !!
The mall was my life !
If anybody ever finds a way to go back, please email me !
Thank you so much for this post !
Thank you Bob Windsor for the great memories!
My wife discovered Bob’s store while looking for things to compliment her craft and sports works. We spent lots of time there just talking to Bob and buying sports items. When Mark Rypien won the MVP in Super Bowl XXVI, he obtained a signed football for us. I still have it in a glass container. Bob’s store was a wonderful place to visit and shop. We miss the friendly atmosphere there.
When I was stationed at Fort Meade my Dad came down to visit me from Connecticut in 1985 and we stumbled upon Bob Windsors. My Dad said “Hey, I think that’s the Bob Windsor from the 49ers, let’s go in.” We went in and Bob could not have been more pleasant and good natured, very down to earth and humble. I will never forget that day, such a nice man.
Boy do I remember that store… Practically lived in it. Bob created the Bob Windsor All Pro Sports Skateboard team which I was lucky to be part of. He was a great guy, always supportive of the kids. Wish I still had my team shirt. Can’t tell you how many times he hooked me up with gear before we would go out to Crofton Skatepark to compete.
I was a student at Montgomery Jr College about 1966; there was a very uneven grass lot for sports with a few dozen bleacher seats; no one ever bothered to come and view the soccer or football team playing. I was walking by and was surprised to see Bob standing in the middle of the field waiting to receive a kickoff. The opposing players seemed like junior high players next to him when they tried to tackle him. I could see he probably was getting ready to move on to the next college level, which may have been Kentucky ? before starting his pro career. His little brother Tom was a terrific player at our Blair High School as well. I saw Bob at a high school reunion; the guy was amazing in all areas; a naturally gifted rock and roll dancer!!!!!