Robert Edmund Haynes, jazz club owner, dies

The owner of a popular Gwynn Oak area jazz and sports club was a former Maryland Lottery commissioner

  • Robert Edmund Haynes
Robert Edmund Haynes
November 19, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Robert Edmund Haynes, who owned a popular Gwynn Oak jazz and sports club and was a former Maryland State Lottery commissioner, died Nov. 12 of stroke complications at the Veterans Hospital in downtown Baltimore. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 81.

Born in Clarksburg, W.Va., he was the son of the Rev. Egbert Adolphus Haynes, a Methodist pastor, and Margret Delena Jackson, a teacher and homemaker. He moved to Baltimore in 1947 after graduating from Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C. He earned a degree at Morgan State University and belonged to the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He remained active in Morgan alumni affairs.

After serving in the Army and leaving military service as a captain, Mr. Haynes opened a Register Street tavern, Haynes' Lamp Post, and later owned the C'est Bon, another bar. He also sold insurance.

In 1965, Baltimore Colts halfback Lenny Moore took over a Gwynn Oak Avenue bar, formerly the Club Florentine. Mr. Haynes began working for Mr. Moore three years later and changed the club's name to the Sportsmen's Lounge when he assumed its ownership in 1973.

In a 1981 Baltimore Sun interview, Mr. Haynes said, "When I became the owner, my main objective was to continue the live music policy that Lenny started and to maintain the club's dedication to sports. We try to provide a nice place where people can have a few drinks while watching the Orioles or Colts games."

Mr. Haynes chartered buses from his club to the old Memorial Stadium for Colts games. He was one of many Baltimore taverns and restaurants who transported their patrons to home games. His was known as Colts Corral No. 34.

Mr. Haynes said that his club drew so many sports enthusiasts he was able to form a six-team basketball league in the 1980s. Once a year, the clubs' all-stars would play Colts members in a charity fundraiser for college scholarships for Frederick Douglass High School graduates.

He said his bar also attracted "some pretty serious" chess, backgammon and pinochle players. The club once hosted an annual pinochle tournament.

Many vocalists also appeared at the Sportsmen's Lounge — Damita Jo, Ruby Glover, Brenda Alford, Eleanor Mills and Erlene Reid, according to the Sun story in 1981.

"The Sportsmen's Lounge has become a showcase for the best jazz artists in the region, drawing musicians from Philadelphia and Delaware to play at its renowned Saturday jam sessions," the article noted. "While the term jam session implies a loosely structured musical event, the shows are really cutting sessions in which the musicians are out to display their professionalism and often send away unprepared competitors bewildered, battered and bloodied."

Jazz reviewers praised the work of saxophonists Mickie Fields and Andy Ennis, who played at the lounge. "Vocalist Ethel Ennis was sitting close to the stage, beaming with pride while her brother played his ripsnorting rendition of 'Honkey Tonk,'" a Sun account said.

"It was a beautiful place," said Eleanor Janey, who was a greeter at the lounge and lives in Severna Park. "Every musician who was in town stopped at the Sportsmen's Lounge, especially on a Monday night. There was no telling who would walk through the door. In the jazz community, we were known all over the world."

The Sun's article said that while the club catered to a "predominantly black, middle-class crowd drawn mainly from Baltimore and the Liberty Road corridor of Baltimore County, it is also frequented by many whites who have discovered it is a comfortable place to hear good live music."

A 1978 Evening Sun story noted the club's "friendly, well-dressed crowd of all ages." It said that more couples than singles frequented the place. "The music is more important than the mating game," the article said.

Mr. Haynes was a past treasurer of the Howard Park Merchants Association and worked to better the Liberty Heights and Gwynn Oak communities.

"Our main goal is to make the area attractive so that more people will come here to shop and have a good time. … We want to keep our area free of crime, loitering and other nuisances that scare away customers," he said in a 1982 Sun story.

Mr. Haynes sold the lounge about 15 years ago and retired.

He had served on the boards of the Metro Democrats, Advance Federal Savings & Loan Association and Project Survival.

Gov. Marvin Mandel named him to the Maryland State Lottery Commission in the 1970s.

He belonged to the Baltimore Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In his free time, he enjoyed fishing and hunting.

Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, the former Marion Smith; a son, Gregory K. Haynes of Baltimore; two daughters, Stephanie H. Matson of Baltimore and Gina H. Sanders of Silver Spring; two brothers, Edwin Haynes and Walter Haynes, both of Washington, D.C.; and three grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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