Charles Earl Brannan, 81, devoted his life to baseball

August 11, 2006|By JORGE VALENCIA | JORGE VALENCIA,SUN REPORTER

Charles Earl Brannan, who was inducted into the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame for contributions to baseball and headed area youth baseball clinics for years, died of renal failure Sunday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The Ellicott City resident was 81.

Mr. Brannan was inducted in 2004 for more than five decades of involvement with baseball, including scouting for the Orioles and coaching at the youth level.

Born and raised in Southwest Baltimore, Mr. Brannan was a 1943 graduate of Patterson Park High School, where as a senior he was named Athlete of the Year for lettering in baseball, basketball, football and soccer.

He turned down a football scholarship at Western Maryland College to play baseball for Loyola College, where he studied chemistry and his team won the 1943 Mason-Dixon Championship.

"He was an outstanding player," said Vince Bagli, a retired WBAL-TV sports anchor who attended Loyola with Mr. Brannan. "He was as good as anyone in the Mason Dixon Conference at the time. He was a versatile baseball player."

Mr. Brannan graduated from an accelerated program at Loyola in 1945, then played minor league baseball, reaching the Double-A level in the Pittsburgh Pirates' farm system. An injury in 1950 put him out of commission, and into the Baltimore job market.

He worked for the Calvert Distillery, where he met wife-to-be Peggy Slacum.

"We had a group of young people, and we used to do a lot of party-type things," Mrs. Brannan said. "I liked him because he was kind of the clown. He was always the one who had a quick comeback for something. ... I liked his humor, I liked his athletic ability."

While working at Calvert, he played for the Brown Derby Club, a local baseball team he joined when he returned to Baltimore.

"He never made it to the majors, and that was his dream. Unfortunately, that never came true," Mrs. Brannan said.

In 1960, he began coaching the baseball team at Glen Burnie High School, where he taught chemistry.

In 1967, he became sports supervisor for the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks, a position he kept for about 25 years. While there, he was a coach and an umpire.

"I was sort of drafted into doing that," Mr. Brannan told The Sun in 2004. "I learned so much from those kids, probably more than they did, in fact, but it also helped a lot of them, too. You'd see them come in the first time, their heads down, and when they learned what they could do, it was very rewarding."

Mr. Bagli kept in touch with Mr. Brannan through the years and saw him at work as a coach.

"What set him apart wasn't only the way he treated people, but his disposition," Mr. Bagli said. "He just went about his job in a business-like, organized, humanitarian way. ... If you have a bunch of kids working on a drill, he would pick out the kid who was the least able one and work with him. If you saw him, you would say, `Now there's a guy who really cares about these kids.'"

He scouted for the Cleveland Indians during the 1970s and was an associate scout for the Orioles in the 1990s. In recent years, he handed out Orioles business cards identifying himself as an Orioles scout.

For the past three decades, he was the instructor for the Cal Ripken Sr. Baseball School at Mount St. Mary's College and coached all-star teams and in Orioles-affiliated programs.

"He loved it. It was such a part of his life," Mrs. Brannan said of his coaching. "He loved to get in the uniform and get out on the field with young players."

Mr. Brannan used to bring his daughter, who played softball, to help in the 1970s with the Orioles Advocates, the club's volunteer booster and service group. Members helped in the stadium and handed out programs, fliers and souvenirs.

"I used to kid with him and tell him the pecking order was baseball and then me and his children," Mrs. Brannan said.

Mr. Brannan was also inducted into the halls of fame of his high school and college.

Services were held Wednesday.

Surviving, in addition to his wife of 53 years, are two daughters, Donna Fields and Deborah Warner, both of Ellicott City; and six grandchildren.

jorge.valencia@baltsun.com

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