In a career filled with accomplishments and accolades, Friday night still managed to stand out for Don Brandon.
The legendary former Anderson University coach has been attending the American Baseball Coaches Association’s annual convention for the past 34 years.
On Friday, in Anaheim, Calif., he was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame in front of nearly 6,000 of his peers.
“It was a super, super honor,” Brandon said Saturday during a phone conversation from the West Coast. “It was. And I am very appreciative of it.”
Brandon, who won 1,100 games in 38 years at the helm of the Ravens’ program, now is a member of five baseball halls of fame. He’s also been inducted into the Cullman County Hall of Fame in his home state of Alabama and the Anderson University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Through it all, Brandon still seems most awed by meeting and befriending his baseball hero, Carl Erskine.
Brandon played for three seasons under Erskine at AU, later served on his staff, and eventually took over as his successor. Along the way, Erskine became a mentor and confidante, and he was one of the many people Brandon thanked during his induction speech Friday night.
“I don’t have good enough words to explain (what the honor means),” Brandon said. “It was a great honor because of the people who have come before me and have contributed to my life and my profession.”
Brandon was surrounded by family during the ceremony, including his wife, Janet, his sons, several grandchildren, and even some cousins who made the trip from Riverside, Calif. Also in attendance was AU President James L. Edwards, who said it’s a pleasure to watch Brandon continue to represent the Ravens.
“He waved the flag for AU in a lovely way,” Edwards said.
Brandon was inducted alongside five other new Hall of Famers — Dennis Denning of the University of St. Thomas, Elliot Johnson of Southern Nazarene University, Jim Walker of the college of Southern Idaho, Dick Vining of Long Island University, and Russ Wright of Fruitland High School in Idaho.
Edwards said Brandon’s résumé — which includes 14 conference titles, an NCCAA national championship in 1991 and 34 players drafted or signed as free agents by MLB franchises — stood out even among this distinguished group.
“It was really special,” Edwards said of the induction ceremony. “I was so pleased to be able to be there and see this thing.”
Brandon called the convention the best in all of sports and seemed almost as excited about the clinics offered as he was his own enshrinement.
When reached by phone, Brandon had just exited a luncheon honoring Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
But, in keeping with personality, it’s the little things that most impressed Brandon.
“I got a nice ring,” he said. “My wife got a nice necklace. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience.”
— George Bremer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission. Photo credit: Don Knight.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America’s top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.