Winchester has lost yet another icon in its baseball community.
Longtime president and coach of the Winchester Baseball Club, Bob Brown, died at the age of 84 on Tuesday. In 1988, Brown began coaching with Winchester Baseball, a member of the Babe Ruth League that currently has over 400 players ages 4 to 15. He assumed the position of President in 1993 and remained in that position until a few months ago.
Brown’s death follows the death of Jim Phillips, a gamer with the Winchester Royals Valley baseball team since its inception in 1979, on November 11.
As a coach and president, Brown took Winchester baseball to great heights. He was inducted into Babe Ruth’s Southeast Region Hall of Fame as an individual in 2010 and Winchester baseball as a whole was inducted into the Southeast Region Hall of Fame in 2015, the second league in district history to have the honor.
According to people who knew him, the way he developed major league players like people was just as notable as his baseball knowledge.
Starting in 2008, Ivy Brown-Tyson has worked with Brown as the Winchester Baseball Team’s Coordinator, Director of Recording, and Vice President of Administration for 14 years.
“Bob was a leader. He was strong, determined, and a fierce competitor,” said Brown Tyson. “He was a mentor to young men and helped them become young men. He loved children and taught them absolutely everything he knew.”
Brown’s latest achievement was his induction into the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Sports Festival Hall of Fame in April of this year.
According to the biography produced by the SABF, Brown played on the Little League first team for Arlington near Washington, D.C. After earning All-State honors in both baseball and basketball at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington—he was a Parade All-American in basketball—he was offered a baseball scholarship to Wake Forest University and received letters for three years. As a middle fielder for the Demon Deacons 1958-60. Brown earned All-Atlantic Conference honors in 1959 and 1960 as a second baseman.
The SABF biography stated that Brown came to Winchester in 1972 to become owner of the Bauserman Oil Company. Sixteen years later, he began his successful career with Winchester baseball.
Other highlights for the organization included a fifth-place finish in the 11-12-year-old Bambino National Championships in 1990 in Pueblo, Colorado (Brown managed the team); finished fifth in the Babe Ruth 13-Year-Old World Series in Jamestown, New York; And she finished ninth at this year’s 13-year-old World Championships at Glen Allen.
Brown was also instrumental in helping baseball’s Winchester host a World Series for 10-year-old Cal Ripken in both 2011 and 2014 at Jim Barnett Park (players ages 4-12 participate in the Cal Ripken Division of the Babe Ruth League ). Brown managed both teams, with the 2011 team finishing second and the 2014 team advancing to the Quarterfinals.
Pepper Martin has known longtime baseball coach Sherando Brown since the 1980s, and he coached third base on the Browns’ Bambino team that qualified for the 1990 World Series.
Martin recalled that the Browns were ready to leave for a scheduled practice within 15 minutes of the team’s arrival at the hotel that year. He took great pride in preparing his teams to be the best they can be.
“I learned a lot from that guy, and I have the utmost respect for him,” said Martin, who is entering his 29th year as Sherando’s baseball coach. “He was a good coach, but an even better mentor and individual.
“[With Brown]The basics of the game are not overlooked. We went through every different scenario in terms of preparing these kids to compete at this level. He paid great attention to detail. He was kind of like my dad in terms of approach to coaching. He knew the game, and was firm with the kids, but also flexible.”
Martin said his father — also named Pepper — had died earlier in 1990, and some other longtime coaches had left around that time. So the Browns’ arrival was much needed for Winchester baseball’s success.
“Winchester has taken baseball to the next level,” said Martin. “A lot of those 13-year-olds in 2000, even though he wasn’t directly involved with the team, a lot of those guys played with him on the Bambino All-Star teams.”
Millbrook 12th grade baseball coach and Winchester Royals general manager Brian Burke was one of the Browns coaches on the 2014 Cal Ripken World Series team that included his son Hayden.
Burke said the old Browns style took the players on that team some time to get used to, but they appreciated it once they did.
“I feel like Coach Brown has forgotten more baseball than I really know,” Burke said. “He expected discipline and had high expectations of these kids, so it was a little intimidating for the kids at first just because of his coaching style. But no one else has worked harder as a coach than Coach Brown in preparing our kids to be better baseball players and better kids.” Children adapt to it over time.
“[Brown] We took this game that we all loved as little kids and made it even more popular. He had an infectious smile when you were feeling well, you knew it. And when he wanted you to do the right thing, he wasn’t afraid to put anyone in their shoes to make sure they were doing it right and that they were listening to what he was saying. I loved [coaching with him] Because he taught me how to be a better coach by showing that it’s okay to be strict with kids these days and get results.”
One of the ways Brown tried to shape his players was by having them abide by the memory of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”.
“There’s a strong message here for young people to become adults, how to adapt to change, and become better people,” Burke said.
Brown Tyson — whose son Jalen Tyson played on the 2011 World Series team and later starred with Millbrook — said Brown made sure his players understood the significance of every line of the song “If.”
“A lot of kids today use this poem at school for any essays or projects they might have,” said Brown Tyson. “It’s a powerful poem about becoming a man. It wasn’t just baseball for him. He taught them the game, but he also taught them life lessons.”
“The players would keep in touch with him and send him invitations to graduate college. A lot of the kids Bob taught came back into the league themselves as coaches with their kids. He made a lasting impression. He was a true legend.”
And until the end, that legend couldn’t get enough of baseball.
Burke said Brown made sure to contact him so he could watch the Millbrook college team play. Five Springback Pioneers played on the 2014 World Series team.
He had a little seat in his walk, and [last spring] “He would be around the batting cage giving advice, talking to the kids,” Burke said. “He was as close to the Sherando and Millbrook families as the majority of those kids from the 2011 and 2014 teams ended up playing, and there wasn’t a lot of games of theirs that he missed. I know he used to run with Jimmy Dicks and watch Handley when they were home. He just wanted to It’s about baseball.”