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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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

The Final Years in the Life of Charley Eckman - 1990's

As Charley reached his 70s, he felt these were the glory years. However, all the running up and down basketball courts affected Charley's body. The 1990's began with a knee replacement, then cataract surgery and in September 1991, Charley was hit with colon cancer. Times were tough but there were also good times. In November 1991, Wilma and Charley celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Charley never gave up. Charley continued working throughout his cancer treatments with the World Handicapping of Racing, announcing for the SPIRIT National Professional Indoor Soccer League, speaking for charities, appearing on radio and television shows and enjoying his life, especially the birth of their first great-grandchild, Brett Conner.

In between cancer surgeries, Charley thought about his life and career. It was time to document those stories, the stories he entertained thousands of people throughout the years. Eckman contacted an old friend, Fred Neil, who hired Charley for his first sportscasting job at WCBM radio. Fred began the laborious and hilarious job of listening to Charley talk. This time however was was the last time they would be told.

In the early months, Charley had a great time recalling the stories to Fred. However, in November 1994, major medical problems were taking a toll on Charley. He found it increasingly difficult to relate the stories with much enthusiasm. Fred collected old memorabilia and stories from family and friends of Charley's. The roles were reversed. Fred would visit and entertain Charley with 'Eckman' stories provided by others. The love and respect between two old friends touched everyone involved. Unfortunately, Charley did not live to see his book, "It's a Very Simple Game, The Life and Times of Charley Eckman," published.

Tom Clancy wrote the Foreword, "....Charley has been there and done that in more places and in more ways than most sports fans dare to dream about. He really knows this stuff, and in the way of a knowledgeable fan, he says what's true without trying to hide the facts with smoke and mirrors. In this book you'll see how professional basketball really began in America, and more importantly, the difference between what we read in the papers (or, now, see on TV) about sporting events and personalities, and what reality really is. In an area of human enterprise where reality has long since been overtaken by high-flown rhetoric pontificated out by people who've never played the game or coached a game, Charley's oral history of American sports is rather like a cold shower after a hot afternoon."

During those final years, Charley continued to help others and in appreciation, they showered awards on him. Charley was instrumental in opening the AA Harry Grover Baseball Stadium in Hagerstown, MD. He was inducted into the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame, the Maryland Softball Hall of Fame, received the Boy Scouts of America "Good Scout" award and was honored by the Colt Corral No.7, the State of Maryland for his gifts to the people of Maryland and Penn National honored Charley by making the official trophy of the World Series of Handicapping "THE ECKMAN CUP."

Let's Review Charley's Final Years

1990 "Hoop Magazine" NBA Playoffs by Alan Goldstein. "NBA Yesterday, From Referee to head coach: Charlie Eckman kept it Simple. For Charlie Eckman, basketball was always a simple game. "There are only two plays," he insisted. "South Pacific and 'put the ball in the hole." Too simple? Not really. Eckman, now a radio sports show host and banquet speaker, used this basic philosophy to coach the then Fort Wayne Pistons to consecutive Western Division titles (1955 and 1956) in the early days of the NBA. Of course, it was a much simpler time in America, and pro basketball, in particular. There were no player agents, no million dollar contracts and only eight teams, including four - the Celtics, Lakers, Knicks and Warriors - that are still in existence.
But that in no way should diminish Eckman's extraordinary feat of jumping straight from the refereeing ranks to a head coaching job and winning two straight division championships without benefit of even a basic course in diagramming X's and O's. Eckman is the only man to both coach (1955 and 1956) and referee (1951) in an All-Star Game. ....... After Alan describes many of Charlie's stories in the article, he writes: Eckman throws his head back and lets out a belly laugh. "Yeah," he says, "basketball is a simple game."

May 1990 - Eckman starts a daily 'talk-about-anything' kind of show on WCBM radio.
Charley Eckman

June 12, 1990 - "Ex-Coach Eckman sought Cincinnati Pistons." "Former Pistons coach Charley Eckman lasted 25 games once the franchise shifted to Detroit from Fort Wayne and later officiated in the NBA. "We had no place to practice. We were the last kid on the block. They had the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings." Charley Eckman (left) The Detroit News, Detroit, Michigan

July 7, 1990 - "Charley Eckman runs for Council" "Radio Sports personality Charley Eckman became the fifth Democrat to run for County Council Second District seat. After retiring from 27 years as Baltimore's WFBR sports director, radio voice Eckman, 68, has decided to get a hand in politics. In my declining years, I feel I have to do something to get Anne Arundel County and America back on track. Eckman now does some radio talk shows, travels around the country doing speaking tours and writes columns for the local paper." Maryland Gazette by Erin Colomb

June 29, 1990 - "Bad Knees Keep Eckman out of politics and in radio." "Eckman's got arthritis in both knees and wouldn't be able to get around and do the dog and pony show (campaign). Charley was considering running for the Anne Arundel County Council seat. "If I can't do it the right way and get around campaigning and meeting the voters, then it's no use just running as a name." Eckman will be 69 in September. Other than those bum knees, he's still Charley, "an American original," as former WFBR general manager Harry Shriver called him. Soon after so-called retirement, he would pop up from time to time on local TV and radio talk shows, or we would hear the all-too-familiar voice on local commercials.
The guy is more than just a "tell-it-like-it-is" kind of sportscaster. He's a voice of experience because he's been there, and there is nothing that he doesn't know about sports. "I just can't retire," says Eckman. "I love talking, so I'll be on five nights a week now at WCBM" and making plans for a book on his storied life.

The Baltimore metro area legend can be heard 5 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday on WCBM. It's an open show (what else for Charley, right?), and he enthusiastically takes your phone calls.
That's what I like about Eckman. He doesn't always tell you what you want to hear. He tells you what he believes is the truth, popular or not, and he is usually right. Charley is making plans for a book on his storied life, which is something to look forward to. Oh, by the way, the name of the book is certainly apropos of the way he always has looked at and done things in life --- "Very Simple Game." Anne Arundel County Sun by Pat O'Malley

Charley and Wilma Eckman

September 21, 1990 - Knights of Columbus letter of appreciation for speaking at the Father O'Neill Council in Lutherville, MD. "You are one in ten million, Charlie. Your colorful memories are alive and well with all of us, and you know they will also live in the minds and hearts of many 'Baltimoreans' for many years to come! The very best wishes to you, Charlie. Keep up the good work making people laugh! TAKE TWO!!!" Dick Vandenberg, Grand Knight

November 15, 1990 - "Marylander's Who have Excelled In the Field of Sports" Charlie Eckman honored....Even a Hollywood scenario writer would find it difficult to match the "Charley Eckman Story." When Detroit Pistons President Fred Zollner was looking for a new Coach for his team then playing out of Fort Wayne, he recalled that Eckman once challenged the great George Mikan following a game in Milwaukee, thusly: "Some day I'd like to coach you big oafs."
Eckman was then a referee, and one of the best, in the NBA
Eckman was then a referee, and one of the best, in the NBA. Two years later, in 1954, he had his wish. Eckman immediately proceeded to carve a niche for himself in NBA annals by piloting the Pistons to Western Division championships in 1954-55 and 1955-56. In the final season at Fort Wayne, in 1956-57, his Pistons shared divisional season honors with St. Louis and Minneapolis. It's a record unmatched in any sport. "The Coach" as he's known to one and all has been prominent on the Baltimore sports scene for many years as a sports commentator, announcer and banquet speaker. Charlie is very knowledgeable and always speaks his mind. Although in retirement, Charlie is presently doing a sports talk show on WCBM."

January 16, 1991 - "A nagging question as Eckman mends... Charlie recovering from knee replacement surgery. Eckman is peddling a bicycle about five minutes a day as part of his therapy, and his bad wheels are improving. Believe me, to use his words, Eckman "is not ready to call a cab." Charlie has done it all in sports and helped scores of people along the way, not to mention charities. He always has been a champion of the little guy, and that brings us to today's first big question. Why isn't Charlie Eckman in the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame?" Anne Arundel County Sun by Pat O'Malley

February 1, 1991 - "NBA commits cheap foul, withholding pension from pioneer refs" "What the NBA is doing to six of its pioneer officials, men of integrity who worked games when they were played in roller rinks and dance halls, is insensitive, inconsiderate and indecent. The NBA, rich and influential, should hide its face in shame.
The six men are former referees, ranging in age from 69 to 77, who gave of themselves and put up with inconveniences and abominable working conditions that in an early era paid them $50 a game. Where would the sport be without officials who made the calls? They have been told they don't qualify for a pension, even though former players and coaches are a part of the existing retirement plan.
It was their hope they might be able to receive $100 a month for every season they worked in the NBA. The six referees from the formative NBA years were regarded as first rate officials but have been forgotten. Charley Eckman was one who spent eight years as an official and four seasons as head coach of Fort Wayne/Detroit Pistons, was stunned the NBA rejected what is a modest request considering all the money it's making at the gate and from radio-TV rights." The Evening Sun by John Steadman

February 20, 1991 - "Eckman, a county treasure, still ignored by Hall of Fame" After looking over the credentials of the four people inducted in the MD State Athletic Hall of Fame this week, it really bothers me, that year after year Glen Burnie's own Charlie Eckman is overlooked. But because he burned a few bridges along the way, the door is closed to him. It's not fair because personalities and feelings aside, Eckman has one of the most diverse backgrounds in amateur and professional sports of anyone who's ever hailed form this state. Anne Arundel County Sun, Pat O'Malley

February 22, 1991: The 14th Annual Federico Tesio Awards Banquet: "Trying to capture Charles Markwood Eckman in print is nearly impossible. Charles is so much a part of Maryland sports, and racing, in particular that a horse "Motormouth Eckman" was named for him. Eckman is recognized as being a solid part of the Baltimore scene. He knows everyone. Everyone knows him. He is crabs and beer and is vocal about his affection for thoroughbred racing."

February 27, 1991 - "In response to last week's big question of why won't the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame induct Charlie Eckman of Glen Burnie? A lot of calls came into the 24 hour sports line, all in favor of inducting Eckman. Some comments:
"Why can't the committee judge the man for his athletic ability, as well as his keen insight into all areas of sports ...although you may disagree with his opinions (as a radio broadcaster), he was there to show you the other side of the equation."

"This man has always been available to attend every kind of athletic function promoting county, Baltimore and Maryland sports."

"I grew up with Charlie and umpired HS and college baseball with him. He deserves to be in the State Hall of Fame."

A 63 yr old Doris Jenkins said "I played women's basketball in Baltimore and often watched Charlie referee. He was the most respected referee around in HS, college and even the NBA....Get him now while he is still alive. I'll be the first one to call a cab and take him to the Hall of Fame" Anne Arundel County Sun, Pat O'Malley

September 1991 - Charley began fighting colon cancer.

October 24, 1991 - Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame, Inaugural Induction Banquet.
Lloyd Keaser, Charlie Eckman, Betty Hallmark, Gordon Phelps, C. Mason Russell.
The Inaugural county Hall of Fame class: From left, Lloyd Keaser, Charlie Eckman, Betty Hallmark, Gordon Phelps, C. Mason Russell. Charley Eckman, Betty Hallmark, guest speaker Brooks Robinson, Daffy Russell and Babe Phelps

Local Heroes: Inductees into the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame were honored at a banquet yesterday at Michael's 8th Avenue. They included (from left) Charley Eckman, Betty Hallmark, guest speaker Brooks Robinson, Daffy Russell and Babe Phelps. A fifth inductee Lloyd Keaser, is not shown. Anne Arundel County Sun, Garo Lachinian

Erin Colomb, Maryland Gazette: At his acceptance speech, Mr. Eckman brought the house down with a 15-minute litany of his famous stories. Then, turning serious, Mr. Eckman dedicated his plaque to his wife, Wilma, saying she "deserved all the credit for having put up with my antics all these years. She's the true Hall of Famer."

November 11, 1991 - Personal letter from Terry Randall, Sports and Recreation Associates concerning the Harry Grover Stadium, Hagerstown, MD.
"Dear Charlie, I hope this note finds you well, and the enclosed calendar featuring Harry Grove Stadium on the cover gives you the sense of pride in accomplishment which you have every right to feel. All too often as we hurry through projects and life, those who provide the initial spark are not properly recognized. Please be assured that I have not forgotten the man who called me during the summer of 1988 and came to Hagerstown to find out how he could move the discussion of AA baseball in MD and baseball in Frederick off of dead center. I have not forgotten who arranged the meeting with Governor Schaefer that started the funding process for the stadium featured on the cover of Baseball America's 1992 Great Minor League Baseball parks calendar."
"Charlie, it would not have happened without you! I can't begin to thank you enough and I am certain that each of the approximately 600,000 fans who have watched games at Harry Grove Stadium would want to shake your hand if I could ever adequately explain the major, but unheralded, role that you had in the process. There is nothing I would like more than to attend the opening game next season with you."

November 19, 1991 - Charley and Wilma Celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary

Family Picture
Family Picture: Men in back: Barry Eckman, Paul Conner, Chuck Nevin, Bob Watts, Jim Parsley, Ed Hirsch, Mike Thomas. Ladies in back: Linda Watts, Gail Parsley, Priscilla Thomas, Helen Eckman. Front row: Charley, Wilma, Janet Eckman, Stephanie Conner and great grandson Brett Conner.

50th wedding anniversary

"Charley and Wilma were honored by their four children at Fred's Restaurant in Annapolis on their 50th wedding anniversary. The outpouring of love, respect and appreciation by each of the children reassured those of us there how important family ties are. Acting as the family spokesman in telling the life stories of Charley and Wilma, Barry told of how Wilma was in charge of everything in the house and Charley from the front door to the outside world. She was "Mrs. Inside" and Charley was "Mr. Outside." Pat O'Malley, Baltimore Sun Paper
Eckman is the man who can get it done in Maryland and make a lot of people happy

December 15, 1991 -"Even cancer can't take the fight out of Charley Eckman ......Battling cancer and trying to shake the aftereffects of chemotherapy, Charley Eckman is still Charley Eckman ...fighting for all Maryland sports. Eckman is the man who can get it done in Maryland and make a lot of people happy. And one of these days, the governor might shake the bones of the hardheads of those in the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame and tell them to amend their bylaws, so that Eckman, who is in the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame, can be inducted into the hall of his native state. Unlike most halls of fame across the nation, the Maryland hall does not induct coaches and referees even though you can't play without them.
Eckman has done it all from high school to minor-league baseball player, to coach, to scout, to referee, and to one of Baltimore's top broadcasters. I've run into a lot of people around the state who support Eckman for induction into the State Hall of Fame. When I ran into a group of University of Maryland grads who have made up the social club, Associates Limited for 30 years, every member knew the legend of Charley Eckman and unanimously agreed that Eckman belongs in the Maryland Hall of Fame. In the meantime, Charley will keep on plugging because not much can keep him down, not even cancer."
Arundel County Sun Sunday, Pat O'Malley Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association 43rd Annual Banquet Program

January 16, 1992- Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association 43rd Annual Banquet Program with personal notes from:

Billy Packer: "Charley you'd still be working in a three man crew-you were the greatest. My best, Billy Packer."

John Steadman: "Dear Charlie, You must have dreamt you were in Wilmington last night. You were the highlight of the evening at the Delaware Park table and the head speakers talk. I heard all about the (3) three point play coach "Bones" started in 1959 South Carolina league.

"Charlie Eckman" the "referee" asked Billy Packer, "What the hell he thought he was doing in that position" and took him across the court to find out from Bones what he was up to. (The only thing missing was the cigar).
Yes, you were the excitement of all the Delaware Park attendees, to hear the Leader's call in that game here in Wilmington at the 1992 Sportswriters and Broadcasters Banquet. I am enclosing a program with a note from the main speaker, Billy Packer."

July 20, 1992-Laurel Racing "De Francis is off track if he doesn't utilize Eckman in some way"... "Noteworthy Day"....While the operation of off-track betting parlors hasn't been decided, Maryland racing would do well to utilize Charlie Eckman, who knows the racing game from all aspects, as an on-site manager. Imagine what his personality would do for business. Joe De Francis ought to consider the possibilities." John Steadman, Baltimore Sun

Paul Conner, Priscilla Thomas
and Chuck Nevin

Charley with great grandson
Brett Conner.

November 1992 - "Like Whittman, Eckman gives Spirit (Soccer) familiar look....It was a day for blasts from the past. On the same day the Baltimore Spirit announced it was signing former Blast star Tim Wittman, the National Professional Soccer League team introduced Charlie Eckman as the commentator on its eight game Hone Team Sports package. Joining Eckman on the HTS broadcasts will be Tom Davis, doing play-by-play, and John Mangione, reporting from the sidelines. Davis' professionalism combined with Eckman's "affection for the city and its sports history" will add to the telecast. He and Tom enjoy a unique rapport that makes the viewers feel part of the conversation."

Charley and Wilma Charley and Wilma
enjoying a laugh.

November 22, 1992 - Eckman's schedule still a parade of activity" Charley was asked by Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke to be the grand marshal of the city's Christmas Day Parade on December 6. "The mayor loves me even though I voted for Bush," said Eckman. "In all seriousness, I'm really honored that I was asked."

The colorful broadcaster and former NBA coach and referee is the analyst on the Baltimore Spirit indoor soccer TV broadcasts and recently completed another season as master of ceremonies of the World Series of Handicapping at Penn National.World Series of Handicapping is the best tournament in the United States. They say it's better than anything in Vegas."

"I've been doing the World Series of Handicapping for 19 years and in that time we've gone from a first prize of $5,000 to $100,000" said Eckman. "Guys who travel all over the country say the World Series of Handicapping is the best tournament in the United States. They say it's better than anything in Vegas."

"The indoor soccer league, the National Professional Soccer League, has instituted a scoring system in which more than one point can be awarded for scoring from a certain distance. The result has been scores like 13-11 instead of 3-1 and attendance is up. "A couple nights ago, I worked a Spirit game in Milwaukee, and we won 13-11 in front of 17,500." said Eckman." Pat O'Malley, The Baltimore Sun

Charley and Wilma's Children:
Linda, Janet,
Gail and Barry.

February 20, 1993 - Maryland Gazette. Sports stars and Charley Eckman raise funds for "Take Back Our Streets."Baltimore Colts star and storyteller Art Donovan Jr., (second from left) entertains (from left) boxer Chuck Strum, Ron Bateman and Charlie Eckman

"Baltimore Colts star and storyteller Art Donovan Jr., (second from left) entertains (from left) boxer Chuck Strum, Ron Bateman and Charlie Eckman, veteran basketball coach, referee and broadcaster, who was master of ceremonies."

April 6, 1993-Personal letter from Senator Michael Wagner, President of "Take Back Our Streets." "Dear Charlie, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to attend our first annual "Sports Celebrity Reception." The incredible turn out we had that night, is a testament to your contribution to the world of sport. Thanks to your efforts that evening, our organization was able to raise $19,000 for the Anne Arundel County Police Department's Youth Activities Program. These funds will go a long way to help a great bunch of kids avoid the temptations of drugs and the downward spiral associated with that style of life."

February 5, 1994-State of Maryland Governor's Salute to Excellence awarded to Charley Eckman"... "Be it known... may this special salute act as a fitting tribute to your impressive commitment to the people of Maryland, seeking to make a positive difference in their lives through your genuine love of sports and distinguished record of community service-as demonstrated by your outstanding efforts as a sports broadcaster, professional referee and coach in the National Basketball Association, earning the tremendous respect and admiration of our public-at-large for your captivating style, contagious enthusiasm and unique delivery in telling it like it is...and with Maryland's deep appreciation and best wishes for your future happiness. Given under my hand and the great seal of the State of Maryland, this 5th day of February 1994... William Donald Schaefer, Governor of Maryland."

March 28, 1994 - The Baltimore Spirit Fan Club 1994 Awards Banquet. Special Guest of Honor - Charley Eckman.

The Baltimore Spirit Fan Club 1994 Awards Banquet. Special Guest of Honor - Charley Eckman. May 17, 1994 - Charley being presented Official Citation for his enthusiastic promotion of sports in the State of Maryland by House of Delegate John Arnick.

May 18, 1994 - "A life in sports enshrined as Charley Eckman Lane" "The entrance to Sawmill Creek Park on Dorsey Rd. in Glen Burnie was named ' Charley Eckman Lane.' Mr. Eckman, 73, a fiery man given to colorful language, has successfully battled cancer for the last 2 ½ years. On stage at the park yesterday he said, "I'm not scared of dying because I've had one helluva life. I can't do much more." Not many would argue with him." Consella A. Lee, Baltimore Sun Paper

Ninety-eight percent of the people that met Charley liked Charley. I think that would make a nice epitaph. He was a class guy
At ceremony, Charley Eckman is flanked by George Mills (left), a friend from broadcasting, and state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein. George said he could sum up Mr. Eckman in a few words..."Ninety-eight percent of the people that met Charley liked Charley. I think that would make a nice epitaph. He was a class guy."

Charley Eckman (center) and his family
applaud after taking the wraps off the
new sign at Sawmill Creek Park.

May 18, 1994 - " Glen Burnie Names Street after Eckman" "Charlie Eckman was put on the map yesterday when county officials named a street after him. About 100 people gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the newest street sign in the county -' Charlie Eckman Lane.' "When I'm gone, don't feel sorry for me because I've lived one hell of a life," Mr. Eckman said. "When I die, people can look up there and wonder who that son-of-a-bitch was, and my grandchildren and great grandchildren will be able to come here and see this." Erin Colomb, Maryland Gazette

Charley introduced by sportscaster Keith Mills
Charley introduced by sportscaster Keith Mills. Other's in attendance to honor Mr. Eckman including: former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, John Mooney of the Laurel Race Track, State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, Police Chief Robert P. Russell, many county police officers and state, county, and local politicians.

May 23, 1994 -"Eckman delighted to have NBA pay dribble in again" "At the time, Charley Eckman never regarded himself a pioneer. He was a referee before the NBA gained respect. That it has become so affluent, with packed arenas and record salaries, is an upset in itself. The setting in the beginning was once so primitive players would slip and slide because, to save money, a portable floor was put on top of an ice rink and the court often became slick from the condensation.
Eckman's pay was $50 a game. Five dollars a day meant money on the road, second rate hotels and a gypsy-like existence. "It seemed everywhere they sent me, I had to catch the Rock Island Rocket, a train out of Chicago," he said. "I spent so much time riding that railroad they should have given me stock in it."
But the NBA, and before that the Basketball Association of America (BAA), was like a poor relative of the professional sports world. It existed-just barely. Now, four decades later, it's at the top of the economic ladder. Eckman wondered why he wasn't included in a pension plan but efforts to do so never got anywhere until he received a letter with a check for $19,348. It wasn't a retirement benefit but was being paid him "for past services rendered." And there will be three more!
"I am deeply pleased and thankful to the NBA and the NBA referees Association for making it happen," Eckman said. What's important, too, is that Charley Eckman found out the NBA did care about a man who gave it his best years, when he was young and his legs were resilient, with enough bounce to carry him to Moline, Denver, Sheboygan, Waterloo and other points afar to do a lonesome job that brought neither gold nor glory." The Evening Sun, by John SteadmanScouts to honor Eckman for his work with kids

November 16, 1994 - Erin Colomb, Maryland Gazette. "Scouts to honor Eckman for his work with kids" "At 73 years old, longtime youth sports activist Charley Eckman said any honor is nice to get, but he never expected the "Good Scout" award. "I'm honored," said Mr. Eckman, of Glen Burnie.

Although Mr. Eckman lacks Boy Scout experience, the Four Rivers District of the Boy Scouts of America is honoring him as a "Good Scout" for 46 years of supporting the youth of Glen Burnie and throughout the country."
"Honoring Eckman was unforgettable" by Pat O'Malley. It's regrettable that more people couldn't have been there Tuesday night at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, but for those who attended it was an unforgettable evening. Among the speakers were WJZ-TV's Richard Sher and Marty Bass, Baltimore Sun columnists Michael Olesker and John Steadman, WQSR and Home Team Sports broadcaster Tom Davis, General Manager Roland Hemond and coach Al Bumbry of the Baltimore Orioles, former Blast and Spirit indoor soccer coach Kenny Cooper and Monsignor Martin Schwalenberg.
The outpouring of respect and genuine love for Eckman was evident as each speaker took the podium. It left quite an impression on the young scouts in attendance not to mention the Eckman family.

Eckman, who has been battling cancer for three years, even talked about not fearing the inevitable. "With this cancer, I could go today or tomorrow, but I'm not afraid to die," said Eckman. "I have a wonderful wife and family and I've done it all in my 73 years."

January 1995 - "By the time we reached late 1994, Charley's part of the book had been completed, except for verifications that came up," says Fred Neil, 62. "His voice was still very strong. By January, he began to weaken. I would go weekly to his home to go over the book."

February 15, 1995 - by Pat O'Malley: "Eckman remains upbeat in running battle with cancer." Charley has been back in the hospital the last couple days...but he's still battling cancer. "Daddy has been having his ups and downs from day to day, and is really amazing everyone the way he keeps bouncing back." Said Eckman's daughter Linda Watts. "He still has a cigar once in a while and watched part of the NCAA championship game Monday night. He watches a little TV, and sometimes just sits and stares out the window."
Charley Eckman won't yield to toughest foe

April 19, 1995 - "Charley Eckman won't yield to toughest foe." "Being confined to the house weighs heavily on Charley Eckman, who, to use one of his most inimitable phrases, would rather be "romping and stomping." Cancer is a difficult foe, as he knew it would be, but he keeps dealing with the problem and won't back down. To be quiet isn't any part of the Eckman persona. In these trying times, he keeps pushing onward and never complains.

Loyal friends keep calling and wife Wilma, three daughters and a son cater to his every desire. Roland Hemond, the Orioles general manager, checks in several times a week from spring training. "He has a lot to do but keeps in touch", Eckman says. "Roland is a winner." Eckman has made frequent trips to the hospital for treatment. One Saturday afternoon, when he wasn't feeling his best, an entourage showed up from WJZ, including Richard Sher, Michael Olesker, Ron Matz and Marty Bass. Almost as if on cue, Eckman was back at the top of his game. It was as if he was hosting the show.
The room was vibrant as Charley talked of basketball, baseball, soccer and horse racing. Then fallout bookmakers, cab drivers, policemen, betting horses, being a bat boy for the Albany Senators, lifting a loaf of bread out of Bond Bakery and get this, the time he almost joined the Boy Scouts.
Charley Eckman, one of a kind (the world could hardly cope with a duplicate copy), shows more courage with the heat on than any one man is supposed to have. His family idolizes him; friends revere him and he knows it. The battle he's fighting has been long and precarious but Eckman isn't about to bow out since he was always ready to make the tough call. He fits his own version of the best compliment he knows how to give: "A Right Guy." John Steadman

July 3, 1995 - Charlie died at home with his family by his side. Before Charley passed, a tear dropped from his eye. He knew there would be a party in heaven and those who had gone before were waiting for his arrival.

"That's how people like Charlie Eckman achieved their success. Few can lay claim to the "triple threat" of coach, referee, and sports commentator. Affectionately known as "The Coach."

Eckman has worked at all three during his career, giving him the "edge" in his broadcast commentary his fans have come to appreciate. And it all began one step at a time. This Saturday, The Baltimore Sun Salutes Those Bold First Steps.

Charley's death was carried by newspapers around the United States

Charley's death was carried by newspapers around the United States. Some of the news articles follow:

"Eckman Was a Man for All Seasons" by Tom Fitzgerald, San Francisco Chronicle. "Charley Eckman was a minor-league baseball player. Then, during the 1950's, he coached the NBA's Pistons, before and after they moved from Ft. Wayne, Indiana to Detroit. He became an NBA official and polished a colorful style that he carried into broadcasting as the voice of the Baltimore Colts and Bullets. He died yesterday after a long bout with colon cancer. He was 73. "He had a heart of gold. He never turned down anyone who asked him to lecture or speak to a group and he didn't care if he even got paid. "That would make a nice epitaph. He was a class guy."

Marvin Mandel, former Maryland Governor and a classmate, said "He was a very unique individual who was everybody's friend. And when I say unique, I mean just that. That's what Charley was - unique - and he was the same way back at City College."

Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer, who appointed Charley State Sport Consultant - "He was a dynamic individual who had a varied career, but was always fun to be with. There is not one word to describe Charley. He never changed. He stayed the same when we were at City College, talking loud and telling stories ---- They don't make them like that anymore." certified Baltimore character

"Sports Personality Charley Eckman Dies" Fred Rasmussen, Baltimore Sun. "He was "certified Baltimore character.' Charley Eckman has called his last cab. Mr. Eckman was known for his rubbery-faced, cigar-waving, iconoclastic antics delivered in a raspy voiced style that sometimes was short on correct grammatical usage. He was credited with using an expression so often that it quickly became a cliche.

Richard Sher, WJZ-TV broadcaster worked with Eckman in 1967. "His voice was shrill and gravelly and without question identifiable - and if you ever had any doubt, you knew who it was when you heard, "You can't beat them cherries' or "Ain't no way, Jose." Charley had a heart of gold. He never turned down anyone who asked him to lecture or speak to a group and he didn't care if he even got paid."

Harry Shriver, Radio executive and former president and general manager of WFBR who hired Eckman from WCBM in 1970, recalled. "I went after Charley because he was special. He was one of those certified Baltimore characters like Mr. Diz, Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin and Harley Brinsfield - and we no longer have them to brighten our city. He was a character and was so well-known that he could stop traffic and draw a crowd on Charles Street. Mr. Shriver likened Mr. Eckman's on-air style to "that of a basketball referee- which was what he used to be - and he talked on the radio like he was calling fouls at the Arena."

Vince Bagli, WBAL broadcaster: "One of Charley's favorite sayings was "He's a right guy" and that's what Charley was."

Kenny Cooper, Baltimore Blast Coach: "He was like Will Rogers; he never met a person he didn't like. He lives and dies for the city of Baltimore and the state. I've been blessed by knowing him. He has lived his life to the fullest and now he had nothing left in the gas tank."

Don Newbery, previous Coach Virginia Tech, said Madison Square Garden in NY was "Eckman's Broadway."

The following newspapers carried the Associated Press story:
Shelby Star, Shelby, NC: "Former broadcaster, referee dies"
New York Times Obituary: "Charley Eckman, Basketball Coach and Referee, 73" New York Post, Sports "Charley Eckman dead at 73"
Washington Times: "Colorful Eckman dies; NBA coach, referee, Baltimore Sportscaster....Jack-of-All Trades... A Fan of All Sports"
The Boston Globe, Boston Obituary: "Sports broadcaster, referee C. Eckman dead at 73
The Washington Post, "Professional Basketball: Ex-coach Eckman Dead at 73, Jack-of-all-Trades. A fan of all Sports"
Harrisburg Patriot News by Shawn Donnan, "Sports Ambassador Eckman Dead at 73"
Richmond County Daily Journal "Colorful Broadcaster Charlie Eckman Dies"
Lancaster, PA "Charley Eckman, Baltimore broadcaster, dies of cancer"
Detroit Free press, by Jerry Green: "Eckman, Pistons' first coach in Detroit had stylish way with players, whistles and words. What's your favorite play? Charley Eckman twirled his cigar and said: "South Pacific." Eckman, who died Monday, was the first coach of the Pistons when Fred Zollner transferred his basketball franchise to Detroit from Fort Wayne, Ind. ...
"He was a tough, jaunty, bantam man with a pompadour. In retrospect, he was the right guy to introduce this franchise to Detroit in an era when pro basketball cried for popularity. He managed to get himself some ink." "When I got to Detroit, nobody cared about basketball," Eckman told me four years ago when I was digging for a book of historical anecdotes about the Pistons. "We had no place to practice. We were the last kid on the block. They had the Detroit Tigers, Lions and Red Wings. The first time I saw our home floor was the night we played our opening game on it," Charley said. Charley survived for 25 games in Detroit. The record was 9-16 and attendance had been higher in Fort Wayne. The inevitable happened. Charley became the first Detroit Piston coach to be fired."

Maryland Gazette by Erin Colomb: "One Hell of a Life, Eckman had ability to find humor everywhere." ... "Charley Eckman dies of cancer ...Monday morning Mr. Eckman, succumbed to the cancer which he had battled with increasing vigor as the years went on. His wife of 53 years, Wilma Eckman, and his family were by his side when he died shortly after 7 a.m.

Baltimore Sun papers by Michael Olesker: "Eckman lived life at fast forward, on high volume ....Charley Eckman marched through life like a one-man band, all brass. The angels in heaven must be holding their ears today. Such language, Mr. Eckman! Such stories, Mr. Eckman! Oh, but, Mr. Eckman could you tell us again about the time....
Which time? Yeah, those angels, they're getting an earful today, which is what the rest of us got for 73 years, until yesterday, when Charley Eckman died of cancer. It was a long and nasty fight, and late in the going Charley sat in his Glen Burnie home, with his family bundled about him, and muttered. "Everything hurts, and what doesn't hurt, doesn't work."

He refereed 3,500 college basketball games over 29 seasons, and when he called a foul, it sounded like a guy taking hostages: "Nobody move," he'd bellow. "I got you right here with a hip." "I'm refereeing at Madison Square Garden one time, and Dick McGuire's playing and he can't hit a free throw all night. There's a timeout, I go over to the bench for some water, and here's this priest who goes up to McGuire. He says, "Don't cross yourself before you make your foul shots." McGuire says, "Father, I've been doing it all my life." The priest says, "Yeah, but you missed eight in a row. You're making the religion look bad."

Charley was remembering some stories over lunch one day at Sabatino's Restaurant. John Vicchio, long time roofer around town, who recalled playing a recreation league game more than half a century ago, where Charley refereed and called Vicchio for a foul. Eckman remembered it. He remembered everything. "Sure I remember," he told Vicchio. "Your man's laying on the floor. You're going, "I didn't hit him." I said, "Oh, yeah? How'd he get down there, by bus? Ain't nobody here but me and you."
Around the table, everybody laughed. Everybody who wasn't sitting at Charley's table waited for an empty seat at his table. He lived like few of us do. Lived with his inhibitions down and his volume turned all the way up. Call me a cab, Charley used to say. A cab? Call Charley Eckman an American original.

Basketball America by Bill Brill: "Charlie Eckman, One of Basketball's True Characters." "In another time, pre-television era, basketball referees were as big a part of the game as the coaches and players. Some, as incredulous as it may seem to youthful readers, may have had more fame.

In the 50's and 60's - Charlie Eckman's time-was the best official I ever saw. Not because he had the best judgment, or never missed one, but because he was in total command. Charlie died the other day at 73 in his beloved Baltimore. Charlie never struck it big like Dick Vitale, but he was every bit as flamboyant.

Bones McKinney, the Wake Forest coach and Charlie had some words but Bones always loved it when he saw Eckman come out on the floor, especially when the game was on the road. Charlie never stopped talking. He knew all the players and most of the sportswriters. He knew a lot of the fans. But no matter how much he smoozed, when the game was on, he was all business.
"I don't know how Charlie would have done in this modern era. It would have been difficult for him to keep quiet. But basketball's enormous popularity was enhanced as it grew by its characters, and clearly Eckman was one of those."

The Capital, Annapolis, MD by Joe Gross. "Eckman always did it his way. The Baltimore sports scene will be quieter now. A little less fun, too. Maybe more grammatically correct. But certainly less entertaining. Charley Eckman will no longer be a part of that scene. He was a one-of-a-kind figure from a bygone era who will never be replaced. His ever-so-recognizable gravelly voice and the gruff and spicy language that went with it might not have played well in Peoria, but he was a huge hit in Baltimore.
Because of that, Charley Eckman will be remembered fondly here. He will be remembered by everyone who ever met him because they all have a story that relates to him, even if they only met him once. Eckman will be remembered for the things he said and the way he said them. He will be remembered. The people listened to him and they quoted him. They believed him. He was one of them.
Eckman never tried to be anything he wasn't. He was a guy from Bal'mer talking about Bal'mre to other people from Bal'mer. He spoke their language. And his popularity was due in large part to his use of the street dialects that newcomers to the area didn't always understand. But Eckman did his shtick for Bal'morans not for the people who were moving in or just passing through.
He coined more locally loved phrases than anyone could imagine, but they were simply things Eckman would say in everyday conversation. People throughout this area loved to hear Charley Eckman. They waited to hear what the guy they called "The Coach" had to say about any and every sport - even the ones he didn't really know all that much about.

He drew crowds wherever he went. People wanted to talk to him and he was all too happy to do that. Eckman had a way of making his fans feel like friends. And those fans would go away feeling like they were best friends with Charley Eckman. Not a lot of people have a personality that can make just about anybody feel like they're your best friend. Charley did it over and over and over again."

July 6, 1995 - Funeral 10 a.m., Harundale Presbyterian Church, Glen Burnie, MD. Four television stations covered the funeral. Celebrities included Johnny Unitas, Art Donovan, Vince Bagli, Jack Dawson, Stan Charles, Harry Shriver, Rex Barney, Roland Hemond, Jim Sears, Chuck Thompson, Tom Davis, Phil Jackman, Michael Olesker, Marty Bass, Richard Sher, Ron Matts, Maryland Governor Schaeffer, Comptroller Louis Goldstein, Maryland House and Senate Delegates

July 9, 1995 - Michael Olesker, Sunday Sun Paper ..."Eckman joins a colorful crowd of dearly departed... When mourners left Charley Eckman's funeral service last week and stepped into the muggy sunlight outside the Harundale Presbyterian Church, they found a Dixieland band at the front door, merrily tooting to the heavens. Charley would have loved it. It was his version of Beethoven's Fifth.

That's it, everybody said...End of an era. They broke the mold with Charley. And maybe they're right, and we can talk about such things in a minute, but I tell you the truth, I never laughed so much at the funeral. How do you like that, in the face of tragedy, laughter heals as nicely as tears!

Charley, Charley. He didn't speak English. Pat O'Malley told the mourners, he spoke Ecklish. Hello, Leader, he'd say. You can go to sleep on them cherries, he'd say. Chuck Thompson told everyone he had visions of Charley greeting God for the first time. "Hello Leader" he'll say, "What's the deal?"
The tone was just right for Charley, and maybe for his whole generation, and thus gets more difficult to find with each passing year. Time is always the great thief. The problem is, it keeps stealing our originals.

Those like Eckman never stopped to think about political correctness, they went with their instincts. Eckman never stopped to think about it and thus enriched everyone around them by showing us who they really were. Who wants everybody to be exactly like everybody else? Eckman widened the dialogue, and broadened everybody's experience.

At Eckman's funeral, Chuck Thompson imagined Charley arriving at the pearly gates, where a couple of saints volunteer to talk to him about his track record down here. "I'll handle this," says St. Peter. "This is a job for the varsity." When Charley Eckman arrives, he deserves points just for sounding like nobody but himself.

Baltimore Sun Sunday by Pat O'Malley. "Eckman goes out in unique style" Charley Eckman got what he deserved - a funeral not to be forgotten. Eckman, who in the words of his son, Barry, "called a cab to heaven at 7:20 am" on Monday, July 3 ending a four year bout with cancer was laid to rest Thursday. Music from a Dixieland band played tunes as Charley's casket left Harundale Presbyterian Church after the unique ceremony.
The 73 year old Eckman was eulogized as a one-of-a-kind sports celebrity. Not one but two clergymen handled the service, a Presbyterian minister and a Catholic Priest. Only Charley could have pulled that off. A who's who of Baltimore sports paid homage to the most colorful broadcaster to ever grace our air waves. Johnny Unitas, Art Donovan, Vince Bagli, John Steadman, Jack Dawson, Stan Charles, Barry Shriver, Rex Barney, Roland Hemond, Jim Sears, Chuck Thompson, Tom Davis, Phil Jackman, Michael Olesker, Joe Gross and Attorney General Joe Curran were among those who took part in the celebration of Eckman's storied life.

Eckman had his own language and it became our language. Who will ever forget such Eckisms:

Call a can call two cabs.
Go on with it jock!
Give him the saliva test!
Ain't no way
It's a very simple game
You can go to sleep on them cherries
You can give them the saliva test
Better than the movies
Are you trying to be cute?
Hey leader...when he can't remember your name
A right guy
A piece of cake
Romping and stomping (describing Lefty Driesell)
He's a Yo- Yo
Write home for money
An authority is somebody from out of town

There was a side of him not everyone knew. His friends and family cherished his caring and loyal manner. Needy families, guys down on their luck, people who needed jobs or kids who needed scholarships or tickets to sporting events sought out Charley. Behind the scenes, he was always there for those in need whether it be financially or emotionally. He seemed to have time for everyone and seemed to know everyone. Charley loved people and loved to make them laugh. Most of all, he loved and was very proud of his family. You can call two cabs, or 20 cabs, but it's a very simple game, -- there will never be another Charley Eckman and we're going to miss him dearly."

Words from Reverend Doctor James G. Kirk, Minister of Harundale Presbyterian Church. The following is an excerpt from Dr. Kirk's sermon given 9 July 1995:
"As you know, this past week, we buried Charley Eckman. During his service on Thursday, whoever gave the eulogy brought out the same two key components of Charley's life; he lay down his life for his family and he lay down his life for his friends. Oh, he had his garrulous side. There was certain coarseness about him. He was not afraid to tell people what he thought. He was also a great story teller. He had an almost encyclopedic mind. He captured in his memory events, people, and individual bits of information that most of us forget the day after they happen. Not Charley! He remembered years ago and could tell about it. When they gave the eulogies, everyone had one of Charley's stories to tell. They also commented on his sacrificial love for his family and his friends.
These past four years were not easy ones for Charley. Nor were they easy for his family. Yet, to a person, his family was at his bedside, whatever time of day or night, in order to minister to his needs. Charley liked fresh squeezed orange juice. Toward the end of his life, he couldn't tell what he ate or what he drank. Whoever could just as easily have given him canned concentrate and he wouldn't have known the difference. But that is not what happened. Every other day, Linda went to the store and bought oranges to squeeze fresh orange juice for her father.
Charley would be on the verge of dying. Someone would go by the house to pay their respects. It's almost as though Charley heard their voices. He rallied, came to his old self and proceeded to tell stories. Rather than people coming to give Charley comfort, they left having been entertained by the story-teller himself. Charley lay down his life for his family. They lay theirs down for him. He lay down his life for his friends. His friends and family kept him alive beyond any expectations the doctors forecast."

December 1995 - "It's A Very Simple Game: The Life and Times of Charley Eckman "is released, selling over 3,000 copies in one month. Commentary about the book follows:

Sports Boosters of Maryland Banquet - "Charlie Eckman, The One and Only" by Chuck McGeehan. "Referee, sportscaster, All-Maryland second baseman at City College, judge, liquor store owner and as unique an individual as Charm City ever claimed. It's all there in the 239 pages of the book, entitled "It's A Very Simple Game, the Life and Times of Charlie Eckman." Fred Neil, co-author of the book, explained: "When we would tape his stories, sometimes I would get three versions of the same story," said Neil. "It's the lexicon that grabs you. Charlie was a showman. He wanted to be somebody. He loved baseball but basketball was the fastest way.

Billy Packer, CBS Basketball Analyst: "When I read the book, I laughed and I cried. This is a story that really tells it like it is. I loved the guy. He was truly unique."
Dean Smith, University of North Carolina Coach: "Eckman's book brought back a lot of memories and a lot of laughs. Charlie was a great ref. Not only did he control the game, he added an extra amount of fun."
Larry Brown, Coach NBA Indiana Pacers: "As a ref, Charlie kept us loose and laughing on the court. His book had me laughing again. I doubt that his kind will ever pass this way again. He was one of the greats."
John "Boog" Powell, former Oriole All-Star first baseman: "I knew that Charley was insightful, but I never realized he knew so much stuff. The book is very funny and a heart-warming experience. I loved it."
Bill Brill, Executive Editor, Basketball America: "As you read this book about one of America's great characters, understand before television, before the sports world adopted basketball, Charley Eckman understood the entertainment factor. He was able to combine that within officiating and maintaining the game's integrity. In that sense, he was one of the true pioneers. That he was an original, never again to be duplicated and on display here in many Eckman stories, can only be considered our loss."
Art Donovan, Professional Football Hall of Famer, Baltimore Colts: "I watched Cholly referee basketball before I ever met him. Little did I know then that we would be paired on TV and radio so much. Cholly was really 'one of a kind.' When they made him, he broke the mold! I thoroughly enjoyed his company. With this book, everybody can enjoy his great stories."
Frank Deford: "Charlie was totally original. This book is a wonderful reflection of his charms." Charley during 1982 WFBR

Charley during 1982 WFBR
broadcast with Frank Deford
(photo by Janis Rettaliata)

Referee Magazine by Frank Deford: "Cookie Cutter Referees"
(This commentary, in much the same form, originally appeared on Frank Deford's National Public Radio Morning Edition segment)

".........All of this came back to me when Charley Eckman died last July 3. Now, with his death, probably the best two officials of the early NBA have gone to their graves without being welcomed into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. That is a travesty. But Eckman and Mendy Rudolph were too visible, and so, unlike Hall of Fame players, they were punished for their human - not their professional - failings.
Unfortunately, Mendy liked to gamble and was locked out of Springfield. Cholly Eckman - he'll always be Cholly to me, to anybody who knew him - didn't gamble. But he could be profane and loud and theatrical, always unafraid to speak his piece. College kids adored him precisely because Cholly had such a sense of humor and perspective.
Eckman was so street-smart, so intuitive, that the Fort Wayne Pistons plucked him out of his zebra stripes and made him their coach. He won two straight divisional championships and was voted NBA Coach of the Year. A championship coach and referee is Hall of Fame material in any sport. But Cholly labeled everybody he didn't like a "yo-yo" and would tell you to "call a cab" if he didn't accept your polite rationale. So he's there with Mendy, locked out of Springfield.

When it mattered, Cholly and Mendy were all business. But they also brought a style and a persona to the arena that added to the game without taking anything away from The Game. So often now, we have cookie-cutter officials who are forced to be so lacking in personality that they send an oppressive message from the start. No wonder the action is so often mean-spirited now.
Charley Eckman and Mendy Rudolph kept the game fair, so it is all the more unfair that the game has denied them due honor simply because they were three-dimensional people with bold personalities to match their unique talents."

January 18, 1996 - David Driver, Howard County Times/Columbia Flier..."Book portrays an original: Eckman ...Eckman and Neil, an award winning public affairs officer for the Division of Rehabilitation Services in the State Department of Education teamed up to write "It's a Very Simple Game: The Life & Times of Charley Eckman." The foreword is written by Tom Clancy, a Maryland resident and part-owner of the Orioles. Borderlands Press published 5,000 copies of the book and released it Dec 1. In the first month 3,000 copies have been sold. But the long time Glen Burnie resident was not around to see his book published. He died of cancer July 3 at the age of 73.

The book captures Eckman, the ideal blue-collar referee/broadcaster in a blue-collar town. Those who heard Eckman - or heard about him - will hear his voice coming through as clear as the shrill sound of a referee's whistle. Just like it did three decades ago when Neil needed to find someone to do a sports show at WCBM."

March 30, 1996-"Colts Corral No. 7 dedicates this evening to our very dear friend and honorary member of Colts Corral No. 7...Charley Eckman"

October 22, 1995-"Penn National Pays Tribute to World Series of Handicapping (WSH) Emcee, Charley Eckman"

"THE ECKMAN CUP.""Charley Eckman was a devoted horse player for more than 50 years and understood the pressures facing the WSH during contest weekends. He completed in the first WSH in 1976 and then became host the next year. His natural wit and aggressive personality endeared him to every contestant. He was dedicated to the WSH, especially proud that it gave the everyday guys and gals a chance to go for the big money. Because of his strong support of the contest and his "unique" style as master of ceremonies for the past 20 years, we are honoring him by making the official trophy of the WSH "THE ECKMAN CUP." "The Eckman Cup will be permanently displayed at Penn National. It was specially commissioned from Waterford Crystal and will sit atop a base featuring the names of all past champions of the WSH."
Lisa Stokes and

Lisa Stokes and
Phil O'Hara hold
"The Eckman Cup"

1999-Charley Eckman inducted into the
Maryland Softball Hall of Fame.

A horse named after Charley: "It'saverysimplegame" won his first raceDecember 26, 2001 - A horse named after Charley: "It'saverysimplegame" won his first race. Owned by Charley's son, Barry Eckman and company. Shirt colors were designed in the famous referee style, black and white stripes. Isn't he a beauty?


The life and times of Charley Eckman cannot be forgotten. As stated by so many in the media, "Charley was a jewel in the world of sports. He was an icon-an original in the history of American basketball. His talents were many."

Rated Number 1 Basketball Referee by collegiate and professional coaches, players, sportswriters and sportscasters, he then went on to become a professional basketball coach-taking the Fort Wayne Pistons from the bottom of the Western Division to the top in only one year! Charley accomplished all this with a quick mind, amazing memory, and with energy that sprang from the bottom of his toes to the top of his head and enthusiasm for a sport that he truly loved. Charley loved baseball and soccer but he thrived on basketball.

As stated in this website, Charley had an avid interest in almost every sport in America.
When asked to summarize the legacy Charley left this world, the following comes to mind.

Charley Eckman:
- enlightened the physical and mental spirit of our men and women in the military during WWII by including baseball, softball, basketball, and boxing competitions within the services.
- helped originate the Glen Burnie Athletic Association bringing all sports to many children following WW II.
- played semi-pro baseball - Mooresville, NC Moors
- was a Major League Baseball Scout for the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Braves
- was a batboy for the old Negro Leagues in the 1920s
- was a deputy sheriff in Yuma, Arizona
- officiated collegiate basketball tournaments including:
- Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
- Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC or Big East)
- Ivy League
- Mason-Dixon Conference
- Southern Conference
- National AAU Industrial League
- American (West Coast) League
- Border (now Southwestern) Conference
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
- National Invitational Tournaments (NIT)
- officiated professional basketball for the
- Basketball Association of America (BAA)
- National Basketball Association (NBA)
- first NBA All-Star Game (1951)
- coached NBA Fort Wayne and Detroit Piston basketball teams
- NBA Coach of the Year 1954-55
- Coached Western Division Champions 1954-55, 1955-56, tied 1956-57
- Coached Western Division All-Star teams 1954-55 and 1955-56 (winner)
- Only Person to have officiated and coached in a NBA All-Star Game.

(Sports Trivial Pursuit Question)
- initiated Professional Soccer to Maryland (Baltimore Blast and Spirit)
- helped Hagerstown, Maryland obtain Harry Grove Stadium for Double AA Baseball team
- was a color broadcaster on radio and television for the:
- Baltimore Orioles Baseball
- Baltimore Colts Football
- Baltimore Spirit and Blast Soccer
- was a radio and television sportscaster for over 27 years in Baltimore.
- was a sports writer during the war for the Fort Wayne newspapers
- for many Maryland newspapers
- was an actor in the movie "Blood Circus"
- was Chief Judge of the Orphans Court in Annapolis, Maryland
- helped many charitable organizations; however he held a special love for the Maryland Special Olympics.
- Maryland State Sports Consultant

Charley traveled all over the U.S. spreading laughter, lessons learned, honest work attributes and enthusiasm for life. The stories he told were about himself and his compatriots. "Common experiences made the best laughter," he said and Charley always had a story to suit a situation. He had a memory for details and names which enlightened the audience. Charley was loved by the common guy, because Charley, no matter his profession at the time, always make them feel special.

The October 2004 issue of Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary Magazine chose to remember Charley Eckman as one of the greatest in sports in the last 50 years.

The majority of this website is based upon quoted material - written about Charley or his quoted words. Since he was 13 years old, writers have found Charley's life exciting and interesting. Despite his death, the world is still talking about Charley Eckman. The October 2004 issue of Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary Magazine chose to remember Charley Eckman as one of the greatest in sports in the last 50 years.

""Charley Eckman...From the Negro leagues to the NBA, he always made the right call." by Alexander Wolff. Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary Magazine, October 2004

"In the long-running sitcom that was the 20th century, Charley Eckman was a recurring character, a kind of sports Zelig. He was a batboy in the Negro leagues. He played some shortstop in the minors, where he was briefly a teammate of Hoyt Wilhelm's. As a major league scout he unsuccessfully urged the Philadelphia Phillies to sign a Baltimore high school kid named Al Kaline. He was a deputy sheriff, a tax investigator, a full-fledged judge of an orphans' court, a pool hall operator in Yuma, Ariz., and the most popular radio personality in his native Baltimore, regaling listeners with reports like this, of the circumcision ceremony for the son of a local fight promoter: 'First time I've seen a clipping without a 15-yard penalty!'

"Its as a pro and college basketball referee, however, that Eckman is best remembered. "I let 'em all know I was going to be there all night, and they weren't going nowhere without me," he said. "Then we had some fun." He once obliged the request of the Philadelphia Warrior's Joe Fulks that they get into a rhubarb because the game was being televised and Fulks wanted a close-up for his family back in Kentucky. When North Carolina went into a delay offense one night, Eckman hauled a chair from behind the scorer's table and took a seat on the court. Late in another ACC game, after whistling a foul, he confessed that he had blown the call--sort of. "Look, kid, there's two seconds to play, and my feet hurt," he said, 'I'm not walking 94 feet for a lousy free throw."

"In 1954 Fort Wayne Pistons owner Fred Zollner scandalized the NBA by hiring Eckman, then 33, as coach, though he had no basketball experience except as a ref. Zollner knew that Eckman had what even today are the two essentials for a successful NBA coach: a rapport with the players and a feel for matchups. The Pistons won the division, and Eckman was named coach of the year. As the only person to have coached and officiated in an All-Star Game, he's now the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question. And he remains immortal for his response to the Piston who once asked him what play to run: "Kid, there are only two plays: South Pacific and put the ball in the basket."

Losing his father at an early age, Charley was determined to become someone special. He was street smart and intuitive. He learned early that life is what you make it. His guidance to youth was to "work hard for what you believe in, always do the right thing and you'll never loose your path."

This documentary honors Charley Eckman's life and accomplishments, not only as a Maryland Legend, but as an original in the world of American Basketball. Charley was certainly worthy of the famous words spoken about him and his career. He was an American Original in the name of sports.