By David Fong
HUDSON — The lessons Jeff Brown learned growing up on Troy’s fields, diamonds and courts are ones he would carry with him for the rest of his life.
“Playing sports in Troy helped determined the person I am,” said Brown, a 1974 Troy High School graduate. “I was lucky to go to Troy and get the coaching I did. It prepared me well for the next level. What I learned in high school carried me through my baseball career and into my coaching career.”
They also carried him into a spot in the Trojan Athletics Hall of Fame. This weekend, Brown — a three-sport star at Troy, a college and professional baseball player and a decorated high school coach — will be one of five athletes inducted into the 2015 class of the Trojan Athletics Hall of Fame. He will be in attendance for a ceremony before the Troy football team’s game Friday, and then formally inducted into the hall of fame Saturday night at a banquet at the Crystal Room in Troy.
“It’s exciting — and kind of surprising, to be honest with you,” Brown said of his selection. “I would come home to Troy during the winter and go to basketball games — when I looked in the hall of fame display case, I never pictured myself being with that group. I knew some of the people inducted and heard stories about the rest. It’s quite an honor.”
Based on his resume as both a player and a coach, it’s well-deserved.
In the days before sports specialization took hold, Brown was a three-sport standout for the Trojans in the 1970s. He was a three-year letterwinnrer in basketball and a two-year letterwinner and starter in football — but it was on the baseball diamond where Brown truly excelled.
Brown was a four-year letterwinner and starter for the Troy baseball team. As a senior, he was named All-Ohio and team MVP.
Following his career at Troy, Brown would go on to play the University of Toledo, where he won four letters as a center fielder. He was named to the Academic All-Mid-American Conference team as a sophomore, junior and senior, honorable mention All-MAC as a junior and first-team All-MAC and team MVP as a senior.
Following his graduation from Toledo, Brown spent three years playing professionally in the Detroit Tigers minor league system.
Following his retirement from baseball, Brown embarked on a teaching and coaching career that was every bit as distinguished — if not more so — than his playing career.
Brown — who recently retired after 35 years as a teach and coach at Hudson High School in Northeast Ohio — spent 19 years as the school’s assistant baseball coach and three years as head coach, during which time he guided the team to the 1997 state semifinals. He was an assistant football coach, as well, earning the 2009 Northeast Ohio Assistant Coach of the Year award and helping to guide the team to the state semifinals last season.
He also was the school’s head softball coach from 2009-12, leading the team to a state runner-up finish in 2009 and being named Northeast Coach of the Year three times.
Although he’s long-removed from Troy, the memories Brown made there as a teenager have stayed with him into adulthood.
“The thing I remember best is the community support,” he said. “I remember the pep rallies before we played ‘the team up north.’ I remember the packed stadiums, especially when we did play Piqua. It was a thrill to be able to be a part of that. I remember when we won the district title in baseball and a line of cars followed the bus home, honking their horns. I remember that because my mom’s horn got stuck.
“Troy always had a tremendous fanbase and great community support.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong