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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The Early Years

Charley was born September 10, 1921 in a row house on Stricker Street in South Baltimore, MD.  His parents were Charles Markwood Eckman, Sr and Marie Schaefer Eckman.  Charles Sr., was gassed during WW I and died in 1933 when Charley (called Junior) was 12 years old. 

"His Moment" - Charles M. Eckman - 1935

The biggest moment in this smiling youngster's life came in the first game of yesterday's double-header when Joe Cambria's Albany Senators pounded out an 11-to-6 victory over the Orioles.  Eckman was the Albany mascot and bat tender.  He had been promised the job Christmas Day by Cambria and had been looking forward almost five months to the day when he would parade before the fans in an Albany uniform. Baltimore Sun Paper.
After his father's death, life was quite difficult for Charley and his mother.  Receiving only $95 a month from the government relief fund, Charley and his mother moved from row house to row house. To help with the finances, Charley, at the age of fourteen, worked for Bugal Coat & Apron Co., for $8 a week.  He learned how to work and attend school at the same time.
Despite working during his high school years, Charley excelled at baseball, basketball and track while attending Baltimore City College .  In the evenings and on weekends, Charley learned that a referee or umpire could bring in $2 per game.  Little did he know that refereeing games at Cross Street Hall in South Baltimore would be the beginning of a marvelous career for Charley.(Charley is in the civilian outfit)

Clifton Park High Tossers Turned In Some Splendid Performances This Spring To Land The Junior High School Baseball Championship.

Perhaps There's A Ruth, Cobb or Johnson Among These Youngsters. (Charley is in the civilian outfit)  

In Charley's words "After school I hustled for extra bucks, either shooting pool, chasing foulballs for the semi-pro baseball teams, reffin' basketball games, or selling tickets for football pools on street corners.  Money was a big problem.  I remember I would have liked to have had more time to play sports. I didn't have much of a social life when I was a teenager because I was too busy playing sports.  I used to go out with the older members of my baseball team after a game and they'd buy me beer.  It didn't matter that much to us whether or not we had a date with a girl, only how we were hittin' and if we were winnin'. There was no such thing as going out in a car.  There was only one family who had one on the block.  I had to walk everywhere I went.  For kicks I'd walk up and down North Avenue , go to the ballpark, or catch a show at the Hippodrome."

In 1937, at the age of 16, Charley played for the Apache Baseball Team at Loyola. At 18, Charley was a second baseman for the Mount Washington Nine, champion of the North Baltimore League.

Eckman,  All-Maryland second baseman with City College

Eckman, last year All-Maryland second baseman with City College , captains the Young American nine in the Baltimore Semi-Pro League and has been clouting the ball at a .325 pace.  Baltimore Sun Paper


In 1939 Charlie was chosen as second baseman on the All Maryland baseball team.  As second baseman, Charlie shifted to shortstop Sunday against Stemmer's Run. Eckman turned in one of the best infield performances of the season, taking part in three double plays in as many innings and making several spectacular stops. Baltimore Sun Papers

Thirty players are Named to All-Star Squad- They make up the all-star baseball squad that will face the Orioles at Oriole park next Friday night.  The game will be a seven inning affair and will be played as a preliminary test to the regularly scheduled Oriole-Newark battle - Second Base - Charles Eckman - Mt. Washington.  Baltimore Sun Papers

June 14, 1939: Another All-Star Team Selected.  The following all-star nine from the high schools After graduation in 1939 from Baltimore City College affiliated with the Maryland Scholastic Association - Second Base - Charles Eckman, City  Baltimore Sun Papers

After graduation in 1939 from Baltimore City College, a newspaper article stated, Charley signed with the Washington Senators and played in the Charley Eckman, City athleteNats farm system but never made it to the parent club.  


Charley Eckman, City athlete, crashes pro baseball ranks by Robert Moser, Baltimore Sun papers.

 Charley Eckman, slugging American first-sacker- 'the boy with the old zip'. The wondrous story of Charley's athletic exploits reads like a chronicle of high-school sports, for in the past decade he has participated in so many.  Towering five foot nine and bearing 150 pounds on his frame, Eckman began his career like many other City College stars, at Clifton Park JHS.  Here, Charley led four teams to city championships in baseball, basketball and soccer.  Entertaining City along with others, Eck didn't dabble much with sports as a soph.
During the summer he captained the Apache Club of the Baltimore Amateur League to a championship in baseball as well as the Patterson Boy's Club in basketball.  In his third year, Charley made the varsity basketball and baseball teams.  During the summer Eck rapped out his customary .322 for the Cambria Senators as well as the championship Lord Baltimore outfit.  Otherwise his Junior year, was uneventful.
Eck's senior year has been the most climatic.  He earned his letter in basketball; captained the City baseball club and was a potential cross-country star until a facial operation, slowed him up.  During the summer, Charley played second base in Curley Ogden's Baseball School and turned in a top notch job for the Young American Club.  The crowning achievement of Eck's entire career came on a sultry summer morning in the form of a contract with the Springfield team of the Eastern (MD) League.
Not only has Charley remained immune to all egotism, but he is also one of the best-liked, most popular fellows at City.  His "old chatter" is the pep of every team he plays on.  His spirited leadership and cheery salutations have made him an idol to all aspiring Collegian athletes. Eck is not the shy retiring type; he is a vigorous, vibrant part of all his surroundings and when we say he can talk as good a game as he can play, you know he's no slouch on the lingo.

Charley Eckman, on behalf of all your countless friends and for City College , may we express our sincere admiration for you; and you can bet old City will watch for the rising star of the Eastern League.

August 16, 1939 - Baltimore Sun Paper: 21 Oriole 'Students' Visit Richmond For Sandlot Ball Series. Twenty-one players of the Oriole Baseball School left for Richmond, Va., to play a team selected from the school in Virginia city. The victor will play the winner of the Charlotte and Savannah groups.  Infielder: Charley Eckman.

July 3, 1940:  Charley receives an telegram, "Come at once. Will refund expenses upon arrival." Johnny Hicks, Mooresville, NC Ball Club.  Charley signed to play Semi-Pro baseball for the Mooresville Moors, for $85 per month (includes all expenses except laundry).  

The 1941 season in NC brought Charley extra joy - he met his wife Wilma Howard at a restaurant.  "I met my wife Wilma, Wilma like in Buck Rogers - on a Tuesday, married her on Friday  (November 19, 1941) and had to borrow $7.50 from her to get her to Baltimore."  On October 10, 1942, Charles Barry was born


On October 10, 1942, Charles Barry was born in Baltimore and Charley's career began to take off.  Charley worked at Bethlehem Steel Coke Ovens in the day and refereed Basketball at night. 

Dec 1942:  Baltimore Sun -A Colorful Referee...One of the brightest stars in the Baltimore Basket Ball League is not even a player.  He's a referee, and his name is Charlie Eckman.  This is Charlie's first season as an official in the city's oldest cage loop, but he's making old-timers rack their brains in trying to recollect anyone else like him. The capacity crowds that jam the Fourteen Holy Martyrs gymnasium every Wednesday and Sunday evenings think he's about tops too.  For young Eckman is a show all by himself, scampering all over the court every one of the forty playing minutes.  He's in on every play, watching the ball with one eye, and all ten contestants with the other.  When Charlie calls a penalty on a player, there's seldom an argument about it.   
What makes Eckman's performance all the more unusual is his rare flair of showmanship, a quality so sadly lacking in so many present-day officials.  According to Charlie, refereeing a game is just as important as playing in one.  His heart is in every verdict that's handed down, and the enthusiasm of the moment carries him away.  To see him call a foul on a player and then re-enact the scene is a real treat.
Standing 5 feet 9 inches high, and weight 155 pounds, Eckman is an athlete in his own right.  He was a letterman in three sports at City College before graduating.  Although equally proficient in basket ball, baseball and track, his first love is baseball.  In 1938-39-40 Charlie was chosen as second baseman on the All Maryland baseball team.  This human dynamo, who is just twenty-one years old, has already enlisted in the Army Signal Corps, but will not go into training until August.