Much-admired coach Brown returns to Diamond Nation dugout

By Bob Behre

Chris Brown rejoins a deep and talented coaching staff at Diamond Nation as the state’s top baseball facility gets set to begin its baseball winter training programs.

Brown, a University of South Carolina grad, returns to Diamond Nation after spending two seasons (2014-’16) as an assistant coach at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina. He had also coached at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida for one season prior to his first coaching term at Diamond Nation.

Brown, as he did in his first stint at Diamond Nation in 2012-’14, will work with players of all ages, be it in a clinic setting, coaching a team or simply providing lessons.

“After leaving Charleston Southern, I realized how much I missed working with the younger players,” said Brown. “Coaching at Diamond Nation affords you the opportunity to work with a wide range of ages, from 10 to 18 years old. That is an amazing experience.”

Brown, an infielder by trade and a tenacious hitter during his college days at South Carolina, seemed to have found his calling to coach young players during that first run at Diamond Nation. Whether it was the Diamond Jacks’ Super 15U team or the talented 2014 DJacks 12U Gold squad, Brown’s charges responded to him in a big way.

“It’s awesome being back in that instructional environment,” said Brown, “especially because of how committed we are at Diamond Nation to player development. When you work with kids from a young age it’s wonderful to watch them grow as players and young men. That’s what I missed the most while I was at the college level.”

Brown’s resume as a baseball player is an impressive one. He grew up in Florida and shined at Cooper City High School. Cooper City reached the Florida Final Four in the state’s largest group Brown’s senior season after which the second baseman was named to Florida’s All-State team.

He was drafted by Minnesota in the 41st round of the MLB Draft in 2002, but opted to go to junior college. After two years at Manatee-Sarasota junior college, Brown landed at South Carolina where he put together two very strong seasons.

He batted .274 his junior season with 54 hits, 4 HRs and 34 RBI. Brown followed that with another productive campaign his senior season with the Gamecocks. He batted .358 as senior in 2006 when he was named the team’s captain, ripping 10 doubles, a triple, 5 HRs and driving in 19 runs. Brown reached base at a .463 pace and slugged at a .555 clip to compile a gaudy 1.018 OPS.

Brown’s 2006 South Carolina squad nearly reached the College World Series in Omaha, falling a single win short. That Gamecocks team also boasted current World Series MVP Steve Pearce, who was Brown’s roommate, and Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak.

Undrafted after his senior season at South Carolina, Brown moved on to Independent League ball where he batted .283 over five seasons. He rapped out 338 hits in 335 games playing in the Northern League, American Association and with the Sussex Skyhawks in the CamAm League.

“I’m so glad to be back at Diamond Nation and can’t wait to start working with our players on Monday,” said Brown.

Did you know? Playing and coaching college ball at a high level puts you in contact with a lot of talented ball players like Pearce, Smoak and Padres second baseman Carlos Asuaje, whom Brown coached at Nova Southeastern. … Though they didn’t cross paths, Brown and J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox have much in common, too. The Twins drafted both Martinez (2006) and Brown (2002) and Martinez played at Nova Southeastern. Martinez was playing in the majors for Houston by time Brown was hired by Nova Southeastern.