Football and Baseball

Coach Schnebly not only played professional baseball, he played semi-pro football, too! Click here to see his official Football and Baseball records.

A Gift We All Can Share

Sometimes we don't know when opportunity not taken becomes opportunity lost forever. A new article from Bob. Click to read more…

Looking Back

As Bob travels across the region enjoying real baseball, he encounters events worthy of a Kodak Moment. Click here to see his latest collection of photos. See more…


Charlie Brown, Sr.

August 2004

SABR Readers,

The American Flag unfurled and showed itself magnificently as it blew in the breeze on this April afternoon.   What was different about this flag and this day, a sunny Sunday afternoon in southern Maryland in April 2003?   This day was the start of a baseball season, in and of itself no different from any other baseball season except this was the rebirth of the Charles County Raiders of the Chesapeake Independent Baseball League, and the flag...this flag was held by Charlie Brown, Sr., a member of the Washington, D.C. Home Plate Club, Sandlot Hall of Fame and Owner, Operater/P.T. Barnum of the Charles County Raiders for more than a quarter century.  During that time Mr. Brown's teams have "owned" the league like no other.   At one point ripping off nine championships in 11 seasons and putting up runs in bunches the way the Redskins once put up TD's.   There's more to the story though.   This story is really about a man and his love of the game of baseball, his desire to be the very best he could be, even in a time when he had to walk long distances to play for the Mitchellville Tigers, a former Negro League Baseball Team in the Mid-Atlantic Negro League, the team of his youth and young adult life (age 14 to 25 years old) on sub standard fields, fields that white players almost never had to play on.

Many times Charlie would reminisce about playing for the Tigers, walking 10 miles a day each way, and each night walking home when the moon was bright above.   The fields of that day that Black players had to play on were nothing more than converted cow pastures.   Many times the fields were so rocky that by the time the game was done, players would look more like they had been in a fight than having just played a Sunday baseball game.   While these games were played in virtual obscurity, White ball players played on the Ellipse Grounds in Washington, D.C. in the Industrial League or for Town Teams with fields paid for by the local community.   While these fields weren't the Polo Grounds or Yankee Stadium, they sure were a step up from what the Black players had day in and day out.  

As the 1950's waned, and the 1960's emerged, change was starting to happen.  Even ballplayers could feel it and see it as teams all over integrated for the first time.   The Negro Leagues evaporated into history's past only to be seen in the minds eye except where documentation occurred.   More and more, Black and White players were playing together.   Charlie Brown, Sr., by this time was moving toward team ownership.   Charlie was establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with on the ball field with his various baseball teams.   His teams were among the first to totally integrate, and they always won.   The Chesapeake Independent Baseball League and the Industrial League had a solid working arrangement so ball players could play both leagues with minimal schedule conflicts.   The Chesapeake League was mostly Black while the Industrial League was mostly White.   The Charles/St. Mary's League, which was primarily White also worked with this arrangement well for the most part, as all three leagues played on fairly equal footing, even though the Industrial League was known to be the strongest league.   Charlie had the best of the best with regard to players from all three leagues.   As the 1990's came, Charlie and his teams were so dominant that they took on all comers...and won all the time.   The Chesapeake League put together an all star team on several occasions to play Charlie Brown, Sr., and his Charles County Raiders.   The Raiders won every time these contests were held. 

As the 1990's ended and a new century dawned, Charlie thought it was time to put away his bats and balls and let another man, a younger man run baseball and the various teams in southern Maryland.  By this time Charlie was in his mid-70's.  His kids were grown and having children of their own.  It was time to move on.  You see, Charlie also owns a horse or two and has had some real success in the racing game.  After a two year absence, knowing he wasn't getting any younger but feeling that his life, his soul was on the ball fields of southern Maryland, those same cow pastures of his youth, Charlie got the itch...the itch only someone who has been involved with sports as a player, coach, team owner, etc., can know how to scratch.  In 2003 Charlie returned to the ball fields he dominated for so long.  The end result of that venture was a regular season championship and a league tournament title capped off with his son, Charlie Brown, Jr., winning the Maryland State Semi~Pro Manager of the Year Award.  Who knows how long this run will last with the Charles County Raiders?  The reigns of the team are slowly moving toward Charlie, Jr., and Charlie, Jr., is having success just like his dad.  Will the team stay together or break up and finally go on their separate ways with no thought of revamping for the future?  These questions are soon to come as ball players, the kind of players both Charlie's (Sr. and Jr.) like, are few and far between these days.  Players with commitment, desire, ability, a "team first" attitude are soon to be a forgotten thing of the past in this "do it now, I want it now" generation.  What will happen?  Time will tell, but Charlie Brown, Sr., is a living Hall of Fame representation of how to do it right with the commitment, desire and talent that has lasted for 60+ years on the sandlots.  Now that is a living legend!

Bob Schnebly

Originally published in The Squibber, the newsletter of the Bob Davids Chapter of SABR.