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



Contact Us


1974 through 1979

WCBM and WFBR Radio Sportscaster, Color man for the  Baltimore Orioles Radio, Baltimore Colts, Baltimore Blast Indoor Soccer, Thoroughbred Horse Racing and The World Series of Handicapping and Speaker Extraordinaire

January 16, 1975 -Fantastic Performance ...comments have been great"...letter from Harry Shriver, "Charley Speaking WFBR General Manager to Charley.

February 2, 1975 - "Charley Speaking
at Legionnaire Frolic in Bridgeton, NJ"

May 19, 1975 - Auctioneer Charley Eckman handled WFBR auction. Seems the auctioneer did not show up so ..."they thank God you were there...or the whole affair would have been a disaster."

May 20, 1975 - Thank you letter from Martin's West to WFBR concerning Charley Eckman..."Charley does such a great job with their commercials."

August 7, 1975 - John Steadman of the News American writes: "Basketball Here Needs Eckman...If the ABA allows the hapless Memphis team, which bombed-out, to be placed in Baltimore, there should be no question what the next move should be. This would be the appointment of Charley Eckman as coach of the outfit.  Eckman formerly coached in the NBA and had a flair for showmanship.  The public would have to be convinced it was going to have a good time when it went to the Civic Center and Eckman would certainly be able to provide that...IT WOULD BE FUN,  WIN OR LOOSE."
"Eckman has such a retentive memory he would be able to call the spectators by first name.  In fact, if things got desperate on the court he might even try to suit-up a few of the players he knew from his amateur days and send them in the game. There's nothing in the rule book that says a team can't sign a few has-beens.  Eckman would find ways to have fun because that's his nature.  He wouldn't take himself too seriously, which would be another asset."
"In fact, Eckman would be able to make history by putting a microphone around his neck and doing play-by-play or color commentary right from the bench.  Would this be too much for one man?  Not if you know Charley Eckman it wouldn't be. He can play the part of a one-man band any time, sing a solo, do a soft-shoe dance, sell tickets and give out interviews."
"No doubt, Eckman would be 'calling cabs' all over the place.  The game officials would recognize him as one of their old fraternity brothers and border-line calls would probably go the way of his team. This is not to say they would be biased towards Eckman but the realization would be there that he wouldn't be trying to alibi by charging on the court and blaming the referee."
"So that would be another plus. In fact, Eckman would be as much of a goodwill ambassador as a master strategist.  The owners of the prospective Baltimore entry could bring James Naismith, who invented the game, back to life and he couldn't do as much as Eckman for pro basketball in Baltimore."
"Professional basketball, after a series of failures in the past, might not make it again in Baltimore.  Then it might pull an upset and shock the world by triggering overwhelming enthusiasm. There's only one man capable of generating it ...ECKMAN in capital letters. He has a style of his own."
Charlie Eckman to discuss a coaching job

August 8, 1975 -Memphis ABA has been purchased for $1 million
by a syndicate of Baltimore businessmen who will move the team here ...
A meeting was scheduled for later in the day between Cohen and Baltimore sportscaster Charlie Eckman to discuss a coaching job." 
News American by Rich Hollander. Charles MeGeehan..(no date) "Eckman Key to ABA Baltimore Franchise ..Charlie Eckman didn't say yes but he didn't say no and what is more important as far as the investors in Baltimore's new ABA franchise are concerned is that he put his stamp of approval on the move being good for the city.  Eckman's name, which has more magic than any of Earl Monroe's moves to the hoop, might have had much to do with the group of investors meeting Thursday night.  Eckman, without a doubt, is Baltimore's most colorful sports personality.  He spent a lifetime in basketball and ..."If the job was offered, I wouldn't take it as a lark," he said about a return to coaching.  "I enjoy my radio work and the security it provides.  Money would not be a factor in my decision.  But even I have to admit, a challenge is involved. I know one thing," he went on.  "These guys better have a ton of money. This is a last place club with no guarantees.  It takes a big man to win.  Even a good little guy like Bob Cousy couldn't do it at Boston until Bill Russell showed up."  People who know Charlie, who is a bundle of enthusiasm at 53, realize he would be more of an attraction than any player.  Still, Eckman is waiting to be asked."

August 14, 1975 - "Charlie Eckman a good choice" by Joe Gross, Maryland Gazette.  "Right now chances are about 50-50 that Baltimore will get the remains of the bankrupt Memphis Sounds ABA franchise. Personally, I hope the Sounds will eventually be heard in Baltimore. And, if the ABA does come to Baltimore, it would be great to have Glen Burnie's own Charlie Eckman as the coach."
"It's very true Eckman would be colorful as the coach.  He would tell the officials what he thought, just as he does his radio audiences now.  His very popular yell, "Ain't no way," would become as famous across the country as it is in the Baltimore area.  You'd be sure to hear it time and again as Eckman's opinion differed from that of the officials. Aside from this, Eckman, who almost always has a cigar in his mouth, would be a very able coach.  Of course, even Charlie's coaching genius would be severely tested if things would work out for Baltimore. If the team came here, hopefully, it would give fans from this entire area a chance to see Charlie Eckman in action."

August 31, 1975 - Baltimore News-American asks: "I heard there's a feud between Charlie Eckman and Bill Boucher, the Greater Baltimore Committee head. Any details?  "It's a long distance feud, since neither man has communicated with the other, and it's one-sided.  Eckman is hurt and angry that Boucher never asked him for any input on bringing an American Basketball Association franchise into the city.  Eckman figures his whole life has been basketball and that he could make a contribution.  Boucher has consulted only with people whose background is business."
(After note: Baltimore did not receive the ABA Basketball team)

March 2, 1976 - Baltimore Clipper Professional Ice Hockey club writes:  "A special thanks to you, Charlie, and to your colleagues for lending your presence and your enthusiasm to promote the image of Baltimore Hockey in the eyes of the whole crowd."

Charley Eckman (extreme right), former NBA coach and referee, discloses some of his basketball secrets to Guy Valvano
March 7, 1976 - The Scrantonian-Tribune
by Guy Valvano.  "Eckman Preferred Coaching to Officiating in Pro Loop"  Charley Eckman (extreme right), former NBA coach and referee, discloses some of his basketball secrets to Guy Valvano (center), Scrantonian-Tribune assistant sports editor, and Paul Ruddy, a former NBA colleague, during Scranton visit Saturday.  Eckman was speaker at installation dinner of Scranton Chapter, PIAA Basketball Officials, and IAABO Saturday night."

April 6, 1976 - Thank you letter from 28th National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament.   "Charley, We wish to thank you personally for the generous coverage you gave the tournament.  We had approx 4,500 on each day, more than triple that of any previous national tournament. You are one of the reasons we had such a good crowd."

Sept 1976 - Personal Letter to Charley- "Thanks for the tribute you paid to my father, Whitey Brooks, on the radio yesterday.  It was emotionally rewarding as humanly possible."

Inception of World Series of handicapping
"A few laughs among friends"  John J. Shumaker (right) and Charles Eckman, Master of Ceremonies for the World Series of Handicapping, crack a few jokes while the final tabulations are made to determine the winner."

1976 -  Inception of World Series of handicapping, Penn National Race Course with Charley Eckman as Master of Ceremonies.    "Charley knows when to pick up the spirits of a handicapper down on his luck.  He knows that a good joke at the right time can do more for a handicapper's confidence than collecting $2.80 on a 2-5 chalk.  "Laughter," says Charley, "is the tonic that makes everyone a winner." 

Charley Eckman teams with left to right, John Swann, Wallace Parr, Lois Barton, and Ken Sassaman as Team Captains of the YMCA Membership Campaign. February 9, 1976 - Charley Eckman teams with left to right, John Swann,  Wallace Parr, Lois Barton, and Ken Sassaman as Team Captains of the YMCA Membership Campaign.  Their goal is to raise $29,000 to provide character-building service for needy youth through the YMCA program. The Maryland Gazette

February 10, 1977 - Letter from the University of Baltimore thanking Charley for the advance publicity on the "big" game with Towson State.... "There were so many people that came to the game that told me personally they heard about our game while listening to your broadcasts.  You'll always be Number 1 in Baltimore." 
YEAH? Call A Cab, Pal
April 15, 1977 - The Johns Hopkins Campus Newsletter by Ken Sokolow and Eric Garland........" YEAH? Call A Cab, Pal"  Charley Eckman, sports director of WFBR "Mad Radio," is the uncrowned King of Baltimore.  More than any other Baltimorean, he represents this town, Charm City's most admired citizen.  His well-chosen words at 5:35 are accepted as gospel each morning.  Eckman has run the entire sports gamut, from coaching NBA champions to refereeing in the NBA, ACC, and Ivies; a baseball scout for the Phillies and Braves and a football announcer on television.  He owns a nice liquor store in Glen Burnie and will buy you a drink at the clubhouse bar at Pimlico.  As for the horses, Eckman's the original turf devotee (succeeding the retired Mr. Diz).  With Marylanders considerably on edge as the track strike continues, we found this the most opportune and urgent time to talk to him......"

Charley's thoughts on racing----"My grandfather was a railroad conductor on the B&O, and he'd take me on the race train to Laurel.  In those days he had a runner---a guy would run to the track and make bets for him; of course, I was his favorite grandson, so I would like to watch the horses, too.  I started betting them at a very early age, I was fifteen or sixteen." 
"You gotta have money when you go to the track.  You can't win with twenty dollars in your pocket.  If you do, you should go to the salvation army and give the twenty dollars to them, say "thank you very much, give it to some guy that needs it.  I have never won at a race track when I needed money, when I went out in short pants, so to speak.  You gotta have a couple hundred bucks with you.  It's not how many races you win, its how much you bet on winners. That's the secret of horse racing."  

ECKMANISM'S:  Did you invent the expression "Call a Cab?" Yep...also, "Ain't No Way", "It's a Very Simple Game."  "Yep, that's mine.  It is very simple, life's simple.  People either love me or hate me, there's no in between."  "Don't Get Angry, get Even"...."Yep".     

April 26, 1977 - Letter from Ernie Accorsi of the Baltimore Colts  to Harry Shriver, General Manager of WFBR:   "Thank you for meeting with me and for considering us with your very fine offer.  I will have to admit that the added feature of having the opportunity to work directly with Charlie Eckman is an exciting one and something that could do nothing but help this club."

"The winners of the Penn National World Series of Handicapping." 
"The Winners"  (from left) P.N. President John J. Shumaker, George Hamm (third), Charlie Eckman, M.C., Ken Slemmer (winner) and Bill Boniface (second).  November 10, 1977 -   "The winners of the Penn National World Series of Handicapping."   Master of Ceremony, Charlie Eckman kept calling Eric Alwan, "the boy genius from Texas". Charley was still as poplar as ever." Racing Digest 

1978-SPECIAL OLYMPICS hosted by Charley Eckman

January 29, 1978 - "Another Day" by Alan Goldstein of the  Baltimore Sun.  "All the puritans who have been shocked by the sudden outbreak of violence in pro basketball this season are obviously suffering from fuzzy memories.  Local sportscaster Charley Eckman, who was both a referee and a coach in those wild-and-wooly days, remembers all the brawling with a touch of humor."
"I'm running the Pistons and this is the first time we're going against Bill Russell, his rookie year with the Celtics," he said.  "I tell my big guy, Larry Foust, 'It's all reputation. This Russell isn't so tough.' Just rough him up a bit and he'll quit out there."  "Well, the first time Foust gets the ball, he elbows Russell in the gut and throws up a right-handed hook.  Russell swatted it all the way to half-court and the Celtics get a lay-up on the other end."
"We call a quick time out and I tell Foust, 'Don't worry. He was just lucky that time.  Keep after him.'  Next time, Foust really belts him in the ribs and then tries a turnaround jumper.  Russell slammed the ball down on his head like a cannon shot.  Foust had a bald spot, and I think you probably can still see 'Wilson imprinted there.'  'Foust is really steaming now.  He comes running back past the bench and screams, "Charley, you know what you can do with your bleeping play?" "You know," laughed Eckman, "I always thought Russell had it (the ability) in him."

Feb. 14, 1978 - "Whatever Happened To...."by Whitey Kelley of The Charlotte Observer writes:  "Coaching to Officiating, Eckman Did It with Style".... "Eckman, a gravel-voiced character right out of a Damon Runyon story... If you know Eckman, he spent about five minutes cursing his fate, then reverted to this usual happy-go-lucky, irreverent, free-wheeling style."  "I was a player's referee.  I'd talk to them on the court, warn them about fouls or rough play."
His favorite trick to calm down someone was to call for a towel to wipe off the basketball, or a spot on the floor.  During the lull, Eckman would wipe and talk out of the side of this mouth, so that it wasn't noticeable to the fans. There was never a face-to-face confrontation. There were some that did not always agree with the way Eckman handled a game but invariably, at season's end, he was selected to call the tournament games, a definite mark of competence.'    

"THREE MEN ON THE FLOOR?  Would the third official, as the ACC now has have lengthened his career?  "No way" he shot back.  "Three men on the floor are just too many officials.  They clutter up the joint."  That's Charley ...Blunt, to the point." Charles Eckman Takes 

May 14, 1978 - 
"Charles Eckman Takes 
A Long Pull On His Cigar
Durham Morning Herald

only man ever to coach and referee in an NBA all-star gameThis picture was attached to a personal note from FootsieKnight.  "Hi! Charlie...Here's a story that was in our paper yesterday.  The story probably is of no interest to you, but the picture was good and I thought I would send it along to you.  Goes to show you they still remember Eckman down here...But they don't have a picture of the Cadillac!  How are you doing?  Hope everything is OK. Regards, Footsie."  

July 8, 1978 - The Sunday Sun Newspaper, Baltimore, MD. by Pat O'Malley:  "Who in county has coached, refereed NBA all-star games? Anne Arundel county's Charlie Eckman is unique - he is the only man ever to coach and referee in an NBA all-star game. Eckman never fails to let it be known he is very, very proud of the county and Glen Burnie ....after all, he is our most famous sports personality."

November 7, 1978 - Charley visited Jenkins Memorial long-term care nursing facility. ....  "Charley Eckman's attendance and participation, in his own inimitable way, turned a small in-house party into a gala occasion.  His visit will be long remembered"...Letter from the Catholic Center, Archdiocese of Baltimore

Charley and Benny the Fan make up a team at WFBRNovember 13, 1978 - WFBR Update - Charley and Benny the Fan make up a team at WFBR.  "When the Baltimore Colts management fired cheerleader Andrea Mann for appearing in the current issue of Playboy Magazine the local press had a field day with the story. WFBR's Charley Eckman invited Ms. Mann to be a guest on his Sports Show to give her side of the story. Ms. Mann also did a guest shot with Johnny Walker. They discussed her recent problems and took phone-in questions from listeners. The phone lines were jammed and remained that way long after Ms. Mann departed the studio."

Charlie Eckman, looking slightly naked without a cigar
1978 - BALTIMORE BLAST INDOOR SOCCER BEGINS.  Charley Eckman will do the color and Art Sinclair the play by play.

"Pro indoor soccer socks it to 'em at Civic Center." Michael Olesker.   Charlie Eckman, looking slightly naked without a cigar in his hand, is waxing poetic about the joys of professional indoor soccer.  "This game can't miss," he is saying, seated high above 11,223 people who went to the Civic Center to watch the Baltimore Blast. He is talking about the sport itself. He is seated in the press box next to his WFBR radio sidekick, Art Sinclair. Eckman has a gatling gun delivery in normal conversation, but pro indoor soccer prohibits normal conversation.
"The Blast will loose 7-1 to a team from Phoenix on this night, and it will not matter.  The game breaks a Blast nine-game home winning streak, but the place is sold out, and the team is still in first place, and something beyond mere athletic competition is happening here.  The Civic Center is alive, long after the Bullets basketball team fled the place and the Clippers ice hockey team folded.  "Soccer is the sport of the eighties," Eckman is saying off the air." 

Charlie Eckman (left), Charlie Fletcher (center), Charles Purcell (right) and Peck Minder (rear)
January 20, 1979  "The Old Timers' Baseball Association of Maryland inducted four of its members to the 1979 Hall of Fame.  Al Rubeling (second from right), of the nominating committee stood with inductees Charlie Eckman (left), Charlie Fletcher (center), Charles Purcell (right) and Peck Minder (rear).

Nels Nitchman, left,
March 30, 1979 -  Speaker "Nels Nitchman, left,
with Charlie Eckman, center,
and George Dropo."

"Former Basketball Official Opposed to Use of Third Ref....  Charley Eckman speaking at the annual dinner of the Eastern Connecticut Board of Approved Basketball Officials, addressed himself to the young members of the board when he said:  "Hang in there, don't get discouraged.  Your group has the best shot at today's game.  You're young and hungry, and you can take a lot of the abuse which goes with officiating today."  Eckman said:  "Be a salesman when you make a call.  Make them (the players) think they made the foul."
Eckman said that basketball is a great game and it's a great way to see the country.  He warned the young officials to keep a sense of humor while working.  Eckman also let it be known that he does not favor the use of a third official in the game. Outgoing President, George Dropo of Plainfield introduced Eckman, "a man he said he had met in New York years ago and couldn't wait for the day he got him to speak at a board meeting."  The Day, New-London, CT by Jack Cruise

Charlie Eckman, toastmaster





April 4, 1979  "East Baltimore Citizens Committee
Honors Baltimore Mayor, William Donald Schaefer. 
Charlie Eckman, toastmaster."

May 3, 1979 - Tri-County Special Olympics personal letter: "Charley thank you for your participation and generous donation of trophies for our special athletes.  The children look forward to your visit each year, and we genuinely appreciate your continued interest in our program."

September 19, 1979 -MAYHEM ON 33rd STREET"  with Charlie Eckman and Art Donovan, WMAR Channel 2 Television, Baltimore, MD.   "The radio version of Mayhem on 33rd Street was such a huge success that it was swept away by TV... literally.  The TV show lasted several years and died, strangled by the make-up, the need to hit marks, and to watch the camera with the light on, cue cards and the director moving things around." Fred Neil as written in Charley's book,  It's A Very Simple Game." 

October 22, 1979 - WREC, Memphis Tennessee sends "appreciation for a great Colts issue/world series talk by Charley Eckman.  The news director of the local Plough station called to say you were a terrific guest...and his boss, Tom Kroh, told me you were a legend in the Baltimore area." 

Nov 12, 1979 - Penn National Race Course - "Charley Eckman, MASTER OF CEREMONIES of the final round of World Series of Handicapping."  Just as the World Series of Handicapping belongs to Penn National, so Charlie Eckman belongs to the World Series of Handicapping.  Since the beginning of the contest, Mr. Eckman, Sports Director of WFBR Radio Station in Baltimore, MD has been the Master of Ceremonies for the contest.  Mr. Eckman's knowledge of the sport of thoroughbred horse racing and his quick-witted and timely humor have always been a welcomed feature of the contest." 

November 20, 1979 - Pennsylvania National Turf Club, Grantville, PA. World Series of Handicapping contest. 

Charley Eckman and grandchild Priscilla
"Charley Eckman and grandchild Priscilla, 12,
enjoy bumper pool in recreation room."  
Maryland Gazette

December 16, 1979, "Sportscaster has a great track record...At home with Charlie Eckman ..a personal story of Charlie's life." The News American by Audrey Bishop 

By the end of the 70's, Charley had the world by it's tail.   His radio and television sportscasting careers were a hit as were Charley's color broadcasts for the Orioles, Colts, and Baltimore Blast Soccer team.   Charley's ability to entertain at 'The World Handicapping of Racing,' speaking engagements and his charity work made him an all around Baltimore favorite.  
Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun wrote,  "Craig Hankin remembers almost driving off a highway when, on the car radio, he heard Charley declare on WFBR that some baseball team owner was "so cheap he wouldn't pay a quarter to see Jesus come back on a bus!"....Charley said it like it was."