By Brennan Waldorf
The Northampton Athletic Department Hall of Fame has four new members this year, with strong ties to one another through the sports they played and coached.
The inductees are former professional baseball player and 1972 Northampton graduate, Rogers Lee “Bobby” Brown; Eastville High school graduate and professional baseball player, the late Clarence “Slim” Churn; 1979 Northampton High graduate and professional basketball player, Charles Edward Fisher; and former Northampton athletic director, teacher, and coach, Kenneth Webb.
A committee of 11 convened in May to select the final candidates to be honored Dec. 11 during the Northampton basketball game against Arcadia. Every year the committee meets and selects candidates based on nominations that can be submitted at any time throughout the year. Nomination forms can be obtained from Northampton Athletic Director Richard Wilfong or from Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Charles King, as well as the school’s front office and website.
All available nominees were delighted and honored to be the first class inaugurated. “This is where it all started. These gentlemen entering the hall of fame with me were all there for me at the beginning,” said Bobby Brown.
Brown was a dual athlete who starred on the Jackets’ baseball and basketball teams before graduating in 1972.
Brown’s professional career started in 1972 when he was selected in the 11th round of the amateur draft by the Baltimore Orioles as an outfielder straight out of Northampton High School. His professional career spanned 13 years with six years in the major leagues. Brown played with the New York Yankees AAA team, Columbus Clippers, and in the international league where he was dubbed MVP. His MLB game debut was on April 5, 1979, for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Brown’s best season came in 1980 when he played centerfield between Lou Pinella and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. “You’re going to win; Reggie won himself. He was the last superstar that was a clutch player,” said Brown of his playing days with Jackson.
During the 1980 season, he had a batting average of .260 with 14 home runs, 47 RBIs, and 27 stolen bases. The very next season Brown and the Yankees competed in the 1981 World Series, falling to the Dodgers in six games. Brown moved on to play for the Seattle Mariners in 1982 before concluding his career with San Diego Padres. Brown and the Padres advanced to the World Series in 1984, eventually losing to the Detroit Tigers in five games. His last game in the majors was Oct 5,1985. He finished his career with 313 hits, 26 home runs, 130 RBIs, and 110 stolen bases through 502 games.
Clarence “Slim” Churn’s baseball career started at Eastville High School. Clarence, a native of Bridgetown, was a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Korean War. He began his pitching career at Eastville High School. After high school, Churn played for several local Eastern Shore teams before serving in the Korean War.
After his service and several years in the minors, Churn landed a spot on the 1957 Pirates pitching rotation. His talents as a player would allow him to play for several major league clubs including the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers. After the majors, Churn pitched in the minors until 1962 before becoming part of the Astros organization as a player-manager and coach until 1967. Churn died Oct. 21, 2017, at the age of 87. He was a U.S. Army Korean War Veteran, a member of Delmarva Baseball Hall of Fame, and a member of the Professional Baseball Players Association.
Cape Charles native Charles Edward Fisher is a 1979 graduate of Northampton High School where he starred on the Jackets basketball team as a scoring point guard who attacked the ball on defense.
“It’s a blessing that’s not taken for granted; it’s a huge honor to be one of the first classes inducted out of all the athletes that have come out of Northampton High,” said Fisher of the nomination.
During the 1978-79 seasons, Fisher was the Eastern Shore District leading scorer, making First Team All-District and Second Team All-State in both seasons. He finished his career at Northampton with 1,723 points, 302 rebounds, 388 assists, and 298 steals. His junior year, Fisher attended a UNC basketball camp (thanks in part to coach Webb and Gary West) where he caught the eye of UNC legend Dean Smith. “Coach Dean said go to preparatory school after graduation and he would sign me the following year because he had just signed a guard,” said Fisher who was enticed by the offer but would later decide to forgo Fork Union Military Academy and instead attended James Madison University from 1979-83. He finished his Dukes career with 1,089 points, 201 rebounds, 313 steals, and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.
After James Madison, Fisher was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, becoming part of the NBA in 1983. Being drafted by the 76ers is one of Fisher’s most memorable sports moments along with attending his first practice where his dreams came true. He admitted he was nervous to play with players he watched on TV, such as Julius Erving and Moses Malone.
He would later go on to receive a Master of Science in physical education from Fresno State in 1994. In 2007, Fisher completed his doctorate of religious education from Jacksonville Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2006, Fisher was inducted into the Colonial Athletic Association and was awarded the Legend of the Year team award in 2011.
Kenneth Webb, a lifelong resident of Northampton County, is known for holding several positions at Northampton along with his substantial athletic career. Webb was the athletic director of Northampton High from 1964-99 while also working as a teacher and coach at the school.
From 1954-58, Webb excelled as a three-sport athlete while also participating in the student government, Beta Club, Monogram Club, and the Wildlife program. In 1957, Webb starred on the football team that went 9-1 and was named Co-MVP of the team. After graduation, Webb attended Randolph Macon College where he continued his athletic career participating on both the football and track teams.
After college, Webb moved back to the Shore where he built an impressive coaching career that spanned more than 31 years. He coached everything from football, boys basketball, baseball to cross-country. He had several winning seasons in multiple sports through his coaching years with highlights including the 1970 Peanut District Baseball Champions and the 1972-1973 Peanut District Basketball Champions.
Throughout his career as athletic director, Webb was in charge of 16 varsity teams. He has attended and been a member of the Johnson United Methodist Church his entire life and follows the footsteps of his mentor, George Young, into the Northampton Athletic Hall of Fame. “Coach Webb is an iconic coach at Northampton High School. He had a profound effect on the lives of young men and women whom he taught and coached,” said current Northampton Athletic Director Richard Wilfong.