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


1940's: World War II and Refereeing

Charlie Eckman A Flying CadetWorld War II interrupted Charley's career just briefly.  He enlisted in the US Army Air Corp in September 1943.  "Charlie Eckman A Flying Cadet ...Charles Eckman, a professional ball player, who was heading for the big time when the war interrupted his career, is now a flying cadet at the Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  He has finished his basic training and is now classified as a bombardier.  He loves his work, but wishes he could be home for Christmas with his wife, his year-and-a-half-old son and his baby daughter of one-and-a-half months"  Baltimore Sun papers

In an article by Fred Livingstone, Ohio newspaper:  "Basketball Personals.  Personal foul! You chopped him across the hands! One shot." In this comprehensive manner and with gestures re-enacting the foul A/C Charlie Eckman has been keeping the Reserve intramural basketball players on their toes.  Charlie's colorful reffing adds a certain tint of drama to the game while holding the players to the letter of the rules.
Eckman is a cadet bombardier stationed at Reserve.  Before joining the Air Corps Eckman was a professional referee in Baltimore from where he hailed.  Even though he is noted for his outstanding refereeing, Eckman was an athlete of no small merit in his won light."

October 18, 1943: Birth of daughter Linda Lou in Mooresville, NC

October 18, 1943: Birth of daughter Linda Lou in Mooresville, NC

In the military, Charley tried flight school but as a newspaper article stated: 

"Charlie washes out of flight school, after his training plane crashes a few minutes after Eckman and his instructor bail out of it."   Charley becomes a physical instructor in Yuma, Arizona.

Sgt. Charles Eckman gives instruction in handling parachute

"Sgt. Charles Eckman gives instruction in handling parachute shroud lines in a suspended harness at Yuma Army Air Field."


During Charley's service in the Army/Air Corp, Yuma, Arizona, he provided physical training for the troops and tutored personnel in basketball, baseball and softball.  He was Captain and short stop of the local 'Red Foxes' baseball team, President of the Yuma Softball League, originated the Women's Softball League, and sportswriter for "ACTIONEER" post newspaper. 
The ACTIONEER called Charley 'Gabby or Chuck'.  In an article they wrote:
"Charley Eckman, Physical Education Instructor, is working with men who have been wounded in the war.  He worked on their bodies and told stories that were good for their souls."
'Gabby' Eckman has the honorary title of 'jitterbugging referee' bestowed on him as the result of his energetic officiating at basketball games.
"Charley flew up and down the West Coast, courtesy of the Air Corp, officiating games.  He left Yuma going all over the West coast flying, training, flying, training.  The Western Command basketball playoff was held in Phoenix and I had the game.  We'd leave the airbase twice a week maybe.  Hop on a B-26 and fly up for a game ...umpiring, playing ball, and officiating.  At night when I wasn't refereeing or umpiring, I was hustling in pool rooms in Yuma and Winterhaven, California.  Charley got paid $5 a night as a patsy in poker games."

November 17, 1945 Charley was discharged from the military.  He collected his family and returned to Arizona for two years.

February 26, 1946 - Yuma newspaper.  "What A Ref!"  "Introducing a new kind of refereeing, Chuck Eckman has shown the El Centro spectators that refereeing can be as much fun and as interesting to watch as the game itself."
Fans Love Him"Eckman first 'wowed' statewide fandom at the state prep cage tourney at Tucson last year.  Although Tucson 's Badger's were eliminated in an over capacity crowd jammed gym at Arizona U for the finals, it wasn't a secret that many of the fans were drawn to the affair by the hard working antics of Eckman.
"A James Cagney of the sports world, Eckman holds a responsible job with the Phoenix office of the War Assets Administration.  That should be enough for any one man, but Gabby finds the time to lose eight pounds a game on the basketball court, six nights a week. 
"If you want a night of laughs and top notch officiating, Gabby's the man for the job.  First impression Gabby gives is a happy-go-lucky guy, but he has his troubles in finding housing in Yuma ."   An Arizona Newspaper.
In an El Cambro , California article, Charlie was refereeing the 'Redheads', a woman's basketball team.  Charley remembers: "They had a dame playing center that had a build that would make a skinny boy look like Marilyn Monroe, but her bony elbows and knees cut guys to ribbons. So I called a foul on her.  You can't use your chest that way, I says.  She's a pro..."what chest?" I says - I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt."

November 19, 1946 - Anita Gail is born in Yuma, Arizona