The best dressed grounds keeper

By Tim Chambers
star staff

  My job as Jr. Babe Ruth president during the past three years has taken me through the back parking lot of Elizabethton High School on many occasions. It was never surprising to see John Malone (Boys & Girls Club director) on the riding lawnmower cutting the grass before games nor was the new batting cage ever empty of players taking batting practice.
  John and I have spent many hours on the baseball and softball fields trying to keep them immaculate because the high school was gracious enough to allow us to use their facilities. It's great to see many of our Carter County youth playing America's favorite pastime on the facilities provided.
  But one thing was missing during the last part of the baseball/softball season. My friend, the grounds keeper, was no longer there. He wasn't just your ordinary grounds keeper.
  Something was unique about this man. He always had a big hello with a huge smile on his face. Regardless of who you were, he treated one with respect and dignity.
  I often stopped to watch him line off the field in his suit and tie. The white chalk was sometimes messy but this didn't seem to bother him. He just went about his business in a quiet way seeming to enjoy every minute of it.
  Sometimes I would stop and jokingly let him know that the line was off just a few inches. I also told him that when he was finished he could journey down to the baseball field and put some more crooked lines down.
  He just smiled and simply stated, "Too much to do here Tim." I didn't know this man like some did but I had the pleasure of coaching his son in the Babe Ruth all-star games years ago.
  He always managed to tell me I was doing a good job writing for his newspaper.
  I was nothing more than a stringer, lowest on the totem pole, writing sports for his paper but that didn't matter to him. He was the boss that people loved working for. Yet his role as husband, parent and friend was much the same. He simply made everyone around him feel special.
  I remember the time when we had no helmets for our 13-year-old all star team, yet this same individual stopped and purchased six new ones to help the cause. That same night, after our upset win over the defending state champion, each player was treated to pizza after the game by this same individual.
  Players like Vince Redd (University of Virginia), Rusty Chambers (Lincoln Memorial) and Cody Whitlock of Milligan along with others extended their thanks to the man only to hear his reply, "My pleasure."
  I always heard the old saying that actions speak louder than words. This man was full of action. Almost everyone can tell stories about the things he donated; from free ads, team sponsorships and thousands of dollars worth of paint to spruce up the softball field, and this is just starters. Almost anything that involved our local youth scene he was always willing to lend a helping hand, yet never expecting anything in return.
  My favorite memory is watching him catch his daughter, who happens to be a great softball pitcher, in his shirt and tie stopping only to relieve the top button on his shirt. Many can tell stories about this individual but the things he has given for the youth of Carter County will always be remembered.
  Now it's our turn to do something for him. It's time to name a field in his honor. We have the Jim Ensor Field, named in honor of the late great little league coach of Citizens Bank, the T.J. Burleson Field, Cannon/Gouge Field, the Joe O'Brien Field, and fittingly so.
  But for us who witnessed this man's contributions to our local youth for many years, nothing would be more fitting than to name the Elizabethton High School softball field in his honor. Charlie Robinson loved Cyclone softball. More importantly, he showed his love by the things he gave back to the program.
  I miss seeing my friend in the suit and tie lining off the softball field. I miss his warm hello and smile. Most of all, our community misses him.
  Heaven now possesses one of the best dressed grounds keepers in the business. His passion for the youth of Carter County will never be forgotten.