Suffolk CC-Selden baseball coach Eric Brown does not dwell on his career numbers, though he is on the verge of a very special milestone in his 24th season. His team split a doubleheader with visiting Globe Institute Saturday, leaving his career record at 499-220-4. But the march to 500 has been bittersweet.
Brown, 59, could be in his last season, because the college is consolidating three sports at its campuses in Selden and Brentwood. With the college planning to field only one baseball team next season, Brown - along with his fellow coaches in men's basketball and volleyball - will have to reapply for his job.
"He is such a wonderful human being and doesn't deserve this,'' graduate Thomas Harper said. "If you think of Suffolk baseball, Eric is a legend.''
Brown's players fell just short of giving him his 500th victory. After winning the first game, 6-2, aided by Max Greenough's three RBIs, the Clippers lost the second game, 7-6, but made it exciting by scoring twice in their last at-bat. Globe reliever Daniel Levine struck out Stephen Christoffersen with the tying run at second base. Suffolk (17-7) plays a doubleheader at Manchester CC (Conn.) today.
Brown is more about his players than his record. He mentions Al Acevado, from his first coaching season, who went to St. Joseph's and then into law enforcement. And Tom Downey, who transferred to C.W. Post and now runs a scouting service on Long Island. He's also proud of Bruce Ken and Daniel Burawa, currently playing at St. John's. And John McGorty, who went to Marist and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and now is an assistant at Marist. And that's just the short list.
"It would be a shame for him to have to retire,'' sophomore Robert Quattrock said. "Playing for him has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life.''
Freshman infielder Kyle Weeks said, "We're trying not to think about what's going to happen next year. We don't want to see him go. He does so much for this program that people don't know."
Mary Lou Araneo, Suffolk's vice president for institutional advancement, said in a statement that the college does not comment on "individual personnel circumstances'' but that it "has certainly not made any coaching decisions for next year.''
Coaches have been prohibited from speaking about plans for consolidation, so Brown had to tread lightly. "This has always been home to me,'' he said. "I've been in touch with so many great kids and had an array of assistant coaches to help me . . . If I don't have an opportunity to coach here, hopefully I will somewhere else.''
Brown's selflessness was apparent to Ron Davies, who became Brown's assistant after winning more than 800 games at Adelphi.
"He wanted me to be the head coach,'' Davies said, "and he'd be my assistant.''