It's a Very Simple Game
Charley Eckman

Early Years

WWII and Refereeing

the BAA

1950's: Refereeing
the NBA

Coaching Pistons: 1954-55

Coaching Pistons: 1955-56

Coaching Pistons: 1956-57

Detroit Pistons: 1957-58

1958 - 1963

1964 - 1967

1968 - 1974

1975 - 1979



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Coaching the Fort Wayne Pistons: 1956-57
 "Toast of the Post Award"

"Toast of the Post Award" - Charlie Eckman, seocnd from left, receives a certificate naming him "Toast of the Post for 1956" from David Brigham, of Montgomery County, Maryland Department Commander of the American Legion, as Glen Burnie Post 40 honored Eckman. Looking on are, left, Edward T. Scanlon, post commander, and right Maryland State Senator Louis N. Phipps. Maryland Gazette

Glen Burnie's Claim to Sports Fame.  Charlie Eckman, Glen Burnie's claim to national distinction in the sports world, will be honored by his friends and admirers when Glen Burnie Post 40, American Legion, will salute him as its choice as 1956 "Toast of the Post" from among its 300 members.  Eckman was picked because of the fame he has brought as an athlete, referee and more recently coach of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Pistons, as well as a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.  More than this Eckman was honored "in grateful appreciation for his unfailing support of the American Legion athletic program, to which he has given abundantly of this time and talents."  
While scouting for the Philadelphia Phillies, Charley chuckles when explaining how he got a lot of undeserving glory last year coaching Ft. Wayne. "For instance, one night we were losing by three points, I believe, with less than two minutes to go against Syracuse.  Larry Foust, complaining of a stomach disorder, asked to be taken out.  Bob Houbregs was sent in, and what does he do?  Two quick shots Bob scores, and we win."
"The timely bit of substituting made me look like a mastermind."  The sports editor of the Ft. Wayne paper had this to say, "I've been writing sports for 38 years, but never have I known a coach like you who seems to know the right moment to send in a substitute."
"The papers built me up as a basketball genius," laughed Charley.  "I knew just when to push the button on the bench. Truth is, I would never have taken Foust out of the game unless he requested it."
Salisbury, MD newspaper: Shore Sports - The NBA is gaining in stature, we were told by Eckman, and some day, will be on a par with big league baseball.  I'd say we're on a Triple-A level right now.  The biggest improvement in recent years has been the construction of new coliseums throughout the league.  Every city now has good facilities for the players and spectators. The Ft. Wayne coach looks for Baltimore to be back in the NBA within three years or "just as soon as a coliseum can be built there.  Baltimore is a basketball hotbed and deserves a franchise again, " Eckman declared.

Otto H. Adams, left above, secretary-treasurer of the Zollner Corp, and Charley Eckman, at right, Zollner Piston basketball coach, are shown chatting with (Indiana) Sen. Homer Capehart

July 12, 1956 - "Otto H. Adams, Secretary-Treasurer of the Zollner Corp,(left) and Charley Eckman, at right, Zollner Piston basketball coach, are shown chatting with (Indiana) Sen. Homer Capehart at his Washington, DC office.  Adams and Eckman, who attended Tuesday's All-Star baseball game at Washington, visited with Capehart during their stay." Fort Wayne News-Sentenal

Odie Spears, Coach Charley Eckman and Larry Foust

Look Fellows It's a Nose... Bobby Houbregs, Piston centerman, always has taken a lot of kidding from his teammates about his battered nose.  Then, when it was rebroken and twisted in the playoff set with Philadelphia last season, that nose really became a matter of concern.  But Bobby had an operation on it during the summer and it was only natural that his "new look" came in for more kidding in the Z's opening workout.  Odie Spears, Coach Charley Eckman and Larry Foust, left to right, look over the new Houbregs profile in the above photo.

October 2, 1956 - Ft Wayne Journal-Gazette Sports Roundup by Bob Reed: Even Charlie Eckman, effervescent Piston coach, couldn't be expected to have all the answers after watching 15 Piston prospects for an hour or so last night. Fifteen men reported last night. Five of them were holdovers from last year - Larry Foust, Chuck Noble, Corky Devlin, Bob Houbregs and Odie Spears. Mel Hutchins and George Yardley were given permission to come in a week late.  Hutchins, the uranium prospector, hasn't been located and as Eckman so aptly phrased it, "You can't sign a guy if you can't locate him.  Hutch is as hard to find as uranium.  But we'll catch up with him."
A quartet of new faces in the Piston camp turn attention to coach Charley Eckman

A quartet of new faces in the Piston camp turn attention to coach Charley Eckman,on left, who held his first practice last night at the New Haven Gym.  Players from left to right are Gene Shue, obtained from the New York Knickerbockers; Joe Liebler, rookie from Holy Cross; Dick Atha, obtained from the Knicks, and Bill Thieben, a Hofstra graduate. 

1956 Start One Win Better than in '55

November 1956 - Ft. Wayne News-Sentenal:  Pistons Split:  So 1956 Start One Win Better than in '55 - The Zs dropped their opener at Rochester Saturday night 88-85, then bounced back at the Coliseum Sunday to halt the Minneapolis Laker threat and post a 94-88 decision in the home opener. The Zs couldn't take their home opener from the Lakers a year ago and went into a temporary tail spin that had everybody concerned for quite a time.
"The squad is going to jell," Coach Charley Eckman assserted...If there was a bright spot over the weekend, it had to be (Gene) Shue. The quick-handed, fast moving new Piston looked great against the Lakers and turned in a creditable job against the Royals. 

"Eckman Steals Show""Eckman Steals Show"...Charley Eckman, coach of the Fort Wayne Pistons of the NBA, who calls himself the highest-priced cheer leader in professional basketball, gave the veteran Edward A. Reider, right, an unforgettable 70th birthday anniversary last night at the Wyomissing Club.  Reider's son, Edward Jr., was host to upwards of 75 friends on the occasion of his dad's birthday.  Eckman was a surprise speaker.  The younger Reider left, William (Woozy) Smith, NBA referee, second from left and Eckman, greeting the guest of honor, feasted on basketball and Eckman's yarns kept the guest in an uproar.

Salute to Sports by Doc Silva..."Eckman a Riot"...Charley Eckman, who says he talks because he can't dance at free-loading get-togethers, was a riot at Edward A Reider, Sr., birthday party....For more than a half hour there wasn't a dull moment in the sanctum as Charley told us about his refereeing and coaching careers and about the star players in the NBA..."Bill Russell of the Celtics is a fine rebounder", he says.  "The Celtics are the finest offensive team since the Minneapolis Lakers of George Mikan's heyday.  The way the Boston club moves the ball is a caution," according to Eckman. For a fellow who has been in basketball for 17 years as an official and coach, Eckman is very modest.  He loves to talk, but he never knocks.
Benefit Game for Referee Pat Kennedy.  Eckman, Foust, Yardley to be in Benefit Game for referee Pat Kennedy, most famous of all basketball arbiters. The game, proceeds of which will go to Kennedy who is seriously ill, will be played in Jersey City, under the sponsorship of the NBA. Abe Saperstein's Harlem Globetrotters, will be the opposition for the NBA All-stars, who will include Paul Arizin and Neil Johnston of Philadelphia; Bob Cousy and Tom Heinsohn, of Boston, Maurice Stokes and Richie Regan, of Rochester and Carl Braun and Dick McGuire, of New York . Eckman who has coached the Pistons to two consecutive Western Division championships and last January directed the Western team to victory in the NBA All-Star Game will serve as coach of the team.

Charley Eckman, Carmen Basilio, Vince Boryla, Frank Selke. 

Left to right: Charley Eckman, Carmen Basilio, Vince Boryla, Frank Selke.
"In This Corner" by George Beahon....It took over two years and 200 games, before the inevitable happened to Fort Wayne coach Charley Eckman last Sunday night.  The Associated Press report said merely that both New York coach Vince Boryla and Eckman were thrown off the benches by referee Arnie Heft.  Fort Wayne was in the process of blowing a 17-point third period lead to the visiting Knicks.
On the telephone last night, Hotshot Charley, the reformed referee who clicked immediately when he made the amazing transition from whistle-tooter to professional benchmaster two full seasons ago, admitted it.
"I finally made my debut as an NBA coach," said Charley, but he wasn't boasting.  His Western Division favorites aren't clicking.  They lost by 35 points to Philadelphia, in the process of blowing three of four decisions to date. 
"We're ahead," explained Eckman, about Sunday night, "but even in one period we got four fouls and New York gets 14 or 15.  Boryla gets thrown out and sits up in the stands raising hell and hollering at me to join him.  It made me awful sick.  I get along with everybody.  But everything went against me and I couldn't take any more."
"Heft chucked me a lot faster and for a lot less than Boryla.  After the game Sunday I was up all night.  I was ashamed of what I did.  But I guess I'm finally a coach."  What's wrong with the club? "Nothing.  We're a good club.  But maybe we aren't moving the ball around enough."

Red Auerbach, coach of the Boston Celtics, gives forth in emphatic terms as he argues with official Sam LandisHAS HIS SAY, BUT NOT HIS WAY..Red Auerbach, coach of the Boston Celtics, gives forth in emphatic terms as he argues with official Sam Landis in last night's game with the Pistons.  Auerbach was arguing what he insisted was a goal-tending job by the Pistons which the officials did not call.  Landis is backed up the other official, Arnie Heft while players Andy Phillips and Bob Cousy are in support of their coach.

December 14, 1956 - Eckman Sounds Warning..Fort Wayne basketball fans may be without a professional team next year unless the Pistons start drawing bigger crowds to their games.  Coach Charley Eckman warned that the Piston team is $5,000 in the hole and the boss doesn't like it. "We've already had three or four offers to move," he said.  "We've had feelers form Louisville and Milwaukee, but then again we don't want to leave Fort Wayne unless we have to."

December 24, 1956 by Ben Tenny.  Pistons face Rugged Schedule After Taking Celtics Before Record Crowd. The holiday campaigning certainly started nicely last night.  The crowd of 8,108 broke the regular-season mark of 7,000 established for another Boston appearance during the holidays back in 1952. The big difference this time was that the Pistons came up with a sparkling win to make the turnout happy. 
The next five games in six nights mean a lot.  They could get going and be in first place by next Monday morning to make their coach Charley Eckman, bossman of the Western Division All-stars for the third straight year.  They could find it mighty tough and be in the division cellar, so close is the jockeying for positions, by then.  Time will tell!
Bill Russell was the focal point before the game.  But a lot of others stole the spotlight.  As so many collegians learn, Russell will find this game of pro basketball a lot different from college basketball and the amateur type he played in as an Olympic standout.
Boston Coach Red Auerbach promised the writer an interview with himself and Bill after last night's game. The visit to the Boston dressing room brought only a sourpuss attitude from Red in which he spent all of the short time he gave me berating the officials.  He did assert that Russell will come along and needs lots more time and experience before his true value can be determined. Russell, no doubt irked at what was far from a great showing, also declared he needs time and is finding the pro game a lot tougher and different.
The Pistons, a hilarious group as they had a right to be, hated to pass judgment on Russell on what they have seen thus far.  All believe he'll have to improve a lot offensively to help Boston a lot this year, but admit he can come along to stick as a pro.

December 29, 1956 - "Pistons Again Battling for West's Lead" ...a half game out.... 

"Court Writers Finally Hear An Honest Coach--Eckman"

Court Writers Finally Hear An Honest Coach--Eckman. Two 6-4 players, Ray Radziszewski (left), St. Joseph's, and Dick Csencsitz, Penn, tower over Charley Eckman, Ft. Wayne coach.  Players were honored by Basketball Writers Club at the Sylvania."




January 28, 1957 - Pistons Retain Top Spot.  A last gasp, 103-102 victory over the New York Knicks in overtime kept the Fort Wayne Pistons ahead of St. Louis today in the red-hot Western division race in the NBA even as the Boston Celtics turned the Eastern race into a runaway. 

Charley Eckman, Piston coach, has signed a new three-year contract February 15, 1957 - New Pact for Eckman. Fred Zollner, a Hoosier with faith in Detroit's reputation of being the "best sports town in the country," moves his Fort Wayne Pistons of the NBA to the Motor City next fall. "I've always like Detroit," Zollner said.  The wealthy Indiana manufacturer described Detroit as a 'second home' because his business is interlocked with the auto industry. 
The Pistons, operating under a six year contract with Olympia Stadium president Bruce Norris, will play a 'minimum' of 22 dates in Detroit, five to seven of them will be doubleheaders. Seven games will be played at Fort Wayne next season, one with each NBA club.

At the same time Zollner revealed that Charley Eckman, Piston coach, has signed a new three-year contract with a boost in pay. Charley's new CONTRACT AGREEMENT begins June 1, 1957 to May 31, 1960.  Basic Salary: $12,000 per year with an additional $1500 for team finish in play-off bracket, $1500 for each team win in play-off series if three series are scheduled, if team finishes first and for that reason receives bye in play-off series, the bye shall be considered as a series team win.  In addition, Eckman is to receive an equal share from the Players' Play-off pool. 

An interesting sidelight to the Zollner shift to Detroit is the retention of the colorful coach, Charley Eckman."Sports Gossip" by Matt Jackson Times Union,An interesting sidelight to the Zollner shift to Detroit is the retention of the colorful coach, Charley Eckman.  Charley signed a new three-year contract.  Eckman is probably the exception who proves the worth of a pro basketball coach.  Charley had never coached before taking the Ft. Wayne job. He had been a referee before coaching and enjoyed outstanding success.  Eckman is a master at keeping up the morale of his players.  He claims no credit for himself and give his players the accolades.

We Want The ZOLLNER PISTON TEAM To Stay In Fort Wayne!"N.B.A. 'None Better Anywhere'...The Zollner Piston Basketball Team.  We Want the  ZOLLNER PISTON TEAM To Stay In Fort Wayne!

February 1957 - Baltimore SunpapersFriends to Honor Eckman Tomorrow in Philadelphia...Tribute will be paid to Charlie Eckman and his Fort Wayne Pistons tomorrow night when the Pistons face the Rochester Royals in Philadelphia.  A group of the Glen Burnie basketball coach's friends from the county and Baltimore will leave on the Pennsylvania Railroad's 4:26 P.M. trip from Baltimore tomorrow afternoon.  More than 100 have expressed their intention of making the trip.  The Peppery Eckman recently signed a new three-year contract to coach the Pistons who will move to Detroit next season.

Sports Parade by Hugh Brown, "Pistons' Coach Keep 'Em Laughing" at Basketball Writer's Luncheon Charley spoke of a basketball player who would not wash his uniform.
"He plays with the Minneapolis Lakers, but I will not identify him," Charley said.  "I had Mel Hutchins, our best defensive player, guarding him.  All of a sudden Mel came running over to the sideline, saying,"I will not guard that guy because he offends my olfactory organ. (Mel's nose). I tried to coax Mel into resuming his burden, but he wouldn't budge.  He had me when he argued, Clyde Lovelette plays on the same team with that guy, and even he won't go near him. All I could do was let Mel stay out of range and let the offender score."

"NBA Major Loop -- But,"

"NBA Major Loop -- But," Says Eckman. Fort Wayne Pilot Labels Sked 'Bush'..The NBA can never lay full claim to a true major league classification until it eliminates its schedule snafus, according to Charley Eckman.
Charley's Fort Wayne Pistons ended their 1956-57 year with a tie for the Western Division Championship and a farewell to Fort Wayne, Indiana. 
 Throughout the 1957 summer Charley fills his days with speaking engagements, scouting for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and making plans for the teams move to Detroit, Michigan.

"Play Ball" Charley Eckman (center), well-known Glen Burnian who is the basketball coach of the professional Detroit Pistons, takes part in Saturday's Pony League opening day ceremonies. Shown with Eckman, who is also a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, are Jimmy Mayer (left), starting pitcher for the Phillies; and Frank Wojciechowski, the Cardinals opening game hurler."

Charlie Eckman the nationally know basketball coach, had decided to make Maryland his permanent home

Making Glen Burnie, MD his permanent home - Charlie Eckman the nationally know basketball coach, had decided to make Maryland his permanent home. Mr. Eckman is shown with his family.  In the front are Gail and Janet Eckman, his two youngest children, and sitting with him are Linda Lou Eckman, 13; Mrs. Eckman and Barry Eckman, 14.
Charley Eckman may Bring Detroit Pistons Here (Baltimore, MD) for Benefit Game for North Arundel Hospital Fund...Eckman, confident of another successful season, leaves Glen Burnie on September 28 for Detroit.  Eckman who has been voted coach of the year twice, holds the  unique distinction in that he is the only coach who has also served as referee in the All-Star games of the basketball professionals.Left to right; Joanna Rolfes, Eckman, Martha Kuhn, Kathleen Mack.

Award Winners...Charley Eckman, coach of the Detroit Pistons, awards Sunpapers trophy to three members of the Comets, the girls unlimited basketball champions. Left to right; Joanna Rolfes, Eckman, Martha Kuhn, Kathleen Mack.

Charles Eckman (center), coach of the Detroit Pistons basketball team, is presented an honorary membership in the Glen Burnie Lions Club

Local Boy makes good as Charles Eckman (center), coach of the Detroit Pistons basketball team, is presented an honorary membership in the Glen Burnie Lions Club by Robert Taylor (left) president, as director C. Bowie "Cage Season Almost Here---For Pistons" Rose looks on.


Cage Season Almost Here---For Pistons 
.....and on to the 1957-58 years as coach of the Detroit Pistons.