By Robert Mantesta
“Surprised”. That was the reaction of Baseball Coach Eric Brown when he got the news that he would be one of the four new inductees to the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“I was surprised but it’s a great honor.” Coach Brown will be inducted in May alongside two other coaches and a former assistant tournament director from across the country.
Coach Brown is now entering his 26th season as Head Coach. The legacy he has been carrying on has been undeniably something special. He has posted an overall record of 540-286-4 (wins-losses-ties). During his time as head coach, he celebrated 4 regional championships as well as 4 trips to the NJCAA Division III World Series.
He attended Suffolk Community College where he was a 3-Star- Athlete in Baseball, Basketball, and Soccer. After leaving Suffolk, he admits that he had no intentions to come back. “I really didn’t see myself coming back to Suffolk. It feels as if it was fate for me to come back. “
The funny thing was that the first job he would have was as the Assistant Basketball Coach. Coach Brown wasn’t too sure about coming back to Suffolk at first until it hit him. “It felt like it was home. When I got back at Suffolk and started coaching, I said, I was home.”
It was not long after, that he began coaching the baseball team. Ever since he started coaching, his plan and ways of teaching the game have stayed the same.
He got his start coaching when he was offered the chance to help coach a summer league team here on the island.
While Coach Brown carries the title of baseball coach, he tries to be more to his players. “I want them to be able to move on and be ready for what is out there. Whether it is with academics or baseball, I want to get them ready for the next step. I want them to be able to look back and have fond memories of playing the game they love.”
Jose A Kortright, a local Travel Baseball Coach, met Coach Brown in 2000 after coaching against him. The following year, Coach Brown hired Kortright to his summer league baseball staff where they got to learn from each other and see how one another goes about their job.
Coach Brown is never done learning. “He is a student of the game and a coach that is willing to learn from others. While other coaches believe they know a lot Eric will give good advice and also listen to others”, Kortright says.
Kortright acknowledged that Coach Brown does more than teach them the game of baseball but also the game of life. Kortright goes on to say, “What I like about Eric is that he wants all his players to go on to four year schools. He really goes out of his way to make sure the players do well in the classroom and looking at his track record all one needs to see is how his players have gone on to four year schools and some have gone on to higher levels of baseball.”
Kortright adds that Coach Brown is one guy that anyone could get a long with. “I can’t ever think of anyone who had a negative thing to say about Eric. This coach is nothing but first class”.
With the busy schedule of a college baseball coach, the head guy in charge still finds time to help out local kids that love the game including Kortright’s new travel team. “While coaching for my new organization the New York Diamonds Baseball Club he kindly accepted my invitation to instruct my players. He along with Coach Davies has provided nothing but knowledge and my players look forward their visits every year”.
When asked about the one thing he learned from Coach Brown, his response was, “I learned that teaching the players the fundamentals of baseball from every aspect of the game will ensure that the team will be competitive every time they put on their spikes”. He goes on to add that Coach Brown preaches this from day one.
Kortright finishes giving us some insight to how himself and Coach Brown are very alike. Kortright said jokingly, “We both share the same love for white castle burgers”.
There is no doubt that Coach Brown Is well deserving of being inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame.
The thing that stands out about Coach Brown is not his coaching accolades but his drive to help others before himself and the openness to learning from others no matter how experienced he is.