James Allison “Al” Brown was born in Cordova, Tennessee on January 16, 1929 to Mr. Harry McKinley Brown and Mrs. Gypsy Oakes Brown. Mr. Brown passed away in his home on Monday, November 22, 2010 with his loving family by his side. Al Brown is survived by his wife of 54 years, Betty Leake Brown, two daughters, Allison Brown Coates (John) and Elizabeth Brown Dunn, and four grandchildren, Margaret Lindsey Coates, Samuel Pettus Coates, Brook Louis Dunn, and Brien Christopher Dunn. He is also survived by his brother, Harry Montague Brown (Grace) and was preceded in death by his sister, Gypsy Brown Cooley.
Beloved by family and friends, Brown left a lasting legacy as an exceptional athlete, coach, and commentator. A veteran of the United States Army, Brown was an outstanding athlete at Central High School before playing baseball for then Memphis State College and the Chicago White Sox minor league system. While coaching at Central, Overton High School and Memphis State, he was a part-time baseball scout for the Chicago White Sox organization until 1978.
In 1962, Brown became the Head Baseball Coach and Assistant Basketball Coach at Memphis State University. During those days, he was the Color Commentator for the University of Memphis for basketball, football and the Memphis Chicks Double A Baseball with WMC-TV, WKNO-TV and Radio from 1963-1996. During this time, Brown authored two books, Coaching Isn't Easy and Basic Thoughts in Coaching Baseball.
Following his coaching career of 20 years, Brown was Director of the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and the entire Fairgrounds for 20 years. He was a founder and served 14 years with the Mid-South Stadium Managers Association. He returned to the University of Memphis in 1991 to become the Executive Director of the University of Memphis M Club (former letter winners) for 15 years. In 1984, Brown was awarded the Billy J. Murphy Award from the University of Memphis Athletic Department. He was inducted into the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the College Athletic Business Managers Association in 1991. Brown is a past President and Director of the College Athletic Business Managers Association. He was President of the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame twice. Brown has been a board member for the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame for 26 years. He has served as President twice and had a hand in 42 nominations that became inductees of the TSHF Hall of Fame. Brown was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
Services for Al Brown will be held Saturday, November 27 at First Evangelical Church in Memphis. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. 12 p.m.. in the church’s fellowship hall and the service will follow at 12 p.m. The burial service will follow at Memorial Park. The family has reserved a special section at the service for Coach Brown’s former players and fellow coaches. The family requests that memorials be sent to: Alzheimer’s Association Mid South Chapter, 4205 Hillsboro Pk., Ste 216, Nashville, TN 37215; First Evangelical Church, 735 Ridge Lake Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38120; Grace Evangelical Church, 9750 Wolf River Boulevard, Germantown, TN 38139; or MIFA, 910 Vance Avenue, Memphis, TN 38126.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on November 24, 2010