Durham News: Sports

Jordan Falcons baseball team starts with clean slate

Aaron Brown, Jordan's head coach. The Jordan Falcons played the Green Hope Falcons in Durham, N.C. on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Green Hope won 6-0.
Aaron Brown, Jordan's head coach. The Jordan Falcons played the Green Hope Falcons in Durham, N.C. on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Green Hope won 6-0. newsobserver.com

Aaron Brown entered his first game as the head coach of Jordan’s baseball team with a clean slate.

New equipment, new players, a new sports administration behind him. Right down to a new team ready for a new season trying to get its first hit.

After their first game against Green Hope on Saturday … well, the Falcons are still waiting to get that first hit.

Three Green Hope Falcons combined on a no-hitter as they blanked Jordan 6-0 on Saturday at Davis Field. Michael Merryman and Matt Duckworth combined to toss four innings for the win after replacing starter Chris Joyner after two innings. All Jordan could muster on offense was four walks.

In many respects, the beginning of Brown’s head baseball coaching career mirrors his senior year in 2000-01 at Jordan.

“It was a great time to be a Jordan Falcon,” said Brown.

And that success on the diamond came not a moment too soon.

The Falcons’ football team dwelled at the bottom of the PAC-6 Conference during the mid-90s, once going three years without a victory under various head coaches who tried in vain to guide Jordan back to the football playoffs.

Then Rick Brown came down from West Virginia to become football head coach. In his third season, he guided Jordan to an improbable share of the PAC-6 championship (with Northern and Chapel Hill). Most incredible of all, Jordan became the first team from Durham in 24 years to beat Northern.

As a basketball and baseball player, Austin Brown watched all that with glee as a senior and carried it with him into his life after high school. This is a man that’s Jordan through and through.

He married his high school sweetheart, who he had dated since his junior year. They even graduated together. One of the groomsmen at his wedding was an offensive lineman for the 2000 Falcons football team.

Brown became a father just before Christmas.

Now, Brown finds himself trying to rebuild a program that’s undergone major changes.

“Last year was a difficult year for us and for Coach (Devy) Bell,” said Brown. “We’ve been blessed with a lot of talent the last eight years. We had mass graduation losses in 2012 and 2013. We lost seven or eight kids in each class. We were young last year, and today we started two freshmen and three sophomores. Green Hope started seven seniors.”

So Brown has opted to go young, very similar to how Rick Brown built the Jordan football team at the turn of the decade and turned them into a remarkable group of champions.

There’s been more at work than just baseball for Brown. He’s been in the midst of a whirlwind since veteran coach Devy Bell stepped down last season. After six years as an assistant under Bell, Brown was hired by then-Jordan Principal Jerome Leathers last July. Two weeks later, Leathers was transferred to Southern Durham.

“I didn’t think I would get the job,” said Brown. “I thought another candidate would get the job and he would be the frontrunner. When it didn’t go that way, I put my name in the hat and they choose me to do it. I have the same philosophy of coaching a team that Coach Bell did. And that makes it smoother.”

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