"You couldn't help but love the guy. He was the greatest showman I ever saw. I'll tell you something else. Back then he was the best pool-shot in Yuma. I referee-ed with him a lot.
"Some player might be in a head-to-head shouting match about a call. Charley would look at him and say, 'Before I give you a technical, which I don't want to do, turn around and look up in the fourth row. Did you ever see a better looking blonde than that one?' "
A perfect illustration of Charley, quick on the comeback and able to defuse a situation. After the cancer hit him two years ago, he promised, with the usual bravado, "I'll kill it with Scotch whiskey."
He was to say later, "they don't give you a gold medal for getting cancer," a statement that was pure Eckman for its poignant validity. Joe De Francis, president of Laurel and Pimlico race courses, was paying respects at the funeral home and said, "You don't honestly know how difficult the disease is until you see what happened to Charley, who was one of the strongest-willed and toughest men I've ever known."
On the radio, Charley didn't need a microphone. He enhanced the wattage of every station where he worked since he came across loud and clear. His attitude toward high-profiled executives was simply put: "To me an expert is someone from out of town."
His recall of names and situations, of players and games of a half-century ago, created a reputation of having a memory that was rarely, if ever, questioned. He didn't have a degree, his only college was Baltimore City College, which was a high school, but lack of a more extensive education never deterred him.
His language might stun or shock an audience, but he was his own man, willing to be himself, blowing the horn and banging the drum, if he had to, in order to draw attention in what has become a conventional type of world.
He was a commentator with color, rarely working from a script, firing from the hip, taking his shots, creating controversy. The individuality of Charley Eckman is why he made an impression that set him apart from the rest of the crowd.