Kyle Brown remembered with love and laughter


“He was an amazing young man,” former Washington Blue Lion basketball coach Gary Shaffer said Thursday, April 25 at a ceremony honoring the life and legacy of Kyle Brown.

The 1999 graduate of Washington High School, who went on to study at and play baseball for Ohio State, passed away suddenly on June 10, 2023 at age 42.

A large turn out of family, friends, former coaches and teammates were on hand on a beautiful Thursday, April 25 to pay tribute to Kyle. The ceremony was held at the baseball field at Washington High School.

Kyle’s family planted a tree in his honor, the first tree at the baseball field.

Giving remarks were Washington High School Principal Brady Strietenberger, Kyle’s former basketball coach Gary Shaffer and his former baseball coach Paul Ondrus.

Several of Kyle’s former teammates, including, but not limited to, Mark Merriman, Nick Jones, Eric DaRif and Scott Lewis, were there, as were former Major League baseball players Jeff Shaw and Travis Shaw (Lewis is also a former Major Leaguer).

Former head of the Washington Little League John Meriweather and long-time youth baseball coach Harry Shaw were on hand, as were former Washington High School athletic director Dale Lynch, former principal Jon Creamer and former Blue Lion assistant baseball coach Preston Bentley, as well as long-time Blue Lion No. 1 fan and photographer, Mary Kay West.

Kyle’s mother and father, Sandy and Keith Brown and Kyle’s family, wife Megan and children Makayla, Carson, Camden and Madyn were showered with an outpouring of love from those in attendance.

The ceremony was something of a reunion. There were some tears shed, but on the whole it was an uplifting experience, with lots of hugs and much laughter on a cool, bright, sun-shiny afternoon.

“From an athletic standpoint, he played four years of varsity football, as quarterback, he played four years of varsity basketball, which is rare,” Shaffer said. “He and Branden Gray were on the same team. Kyle would have been a 1,000-point scorer, but he got hurt one year and missed quite a few games. Otherwise, he would have been another 1,000-point scorer, he and Branden on the same team.

“Of course, he played baseball and, if I’d have known what a good golfer he was, I would probably have had him play golf for me, too,” Shaffer said. “He was an outstanding athlete. He was an outstanding person. You want good athletes, but, you want good people and Kyle was certainly one of the more outstanding athletes and, as a leader and a person, he was outstanding, also.

“When we went to the Regional finals in ‘99 and played Philo, when they had 6-6, 6-6, 6-5, 6-5 and we were 6-3, six-foot, 5-8, 5-10 and 5-8,” Shaffer said. “That’s when Dustin (Pfeifer) was a freshman and he came off the bench and he was 5-8. We were very small but we were in the game and we got beat by three points.

“I played golf with Kyle a few times after he graduated from Ohio State and he’s a good golfer,” Shaffer said. “He was just an outstanding athlete and an outstanding person.”

“Kyle won one of the real strong people that we had, not only in baseball but in all our sports,” Paul Ondrus said. “He was a three-sport letterman. He was one of those guys who ate, drank and slept sports. I think that led to the profession he went into (working for ESPN). I am so honored to be here today to represent the old guys on the baseball team.”

To the current baseball team, Ondrus said, “Hopefully you guys take a page out of his book.

“Sandy and Keith, it’s tough, I know,” Ondrus said. “Thank you so very much.”

“We’re dedicating this tree to Kyle Brown,” Shaffer said. “Kyle played for me for four years. He did the same thing in football, started as a freshman. He did the same thing in baseball. We know he went on to Ohio State on a scholarship.

“He was an outstanding athlete,” Shaffer said. “I’ve coached a lot of young men and he is definitely one of the most outstanding athletes that I’ve coached. More important, he was an oustanding young man. His team, in 1999, was one of the most competitive I’ve coached. They put their all into everything they did. A great young man and it’s an honor to dedicate this tree to him. He certainly left us far too soon. I love him and his family very much and it’s an honor to do this.”

At this point, Kyle’s family each poured a shovel full of dirt around the base of the tree.

After that, Shaffer led a prayer for Kyle and the Brown family.

“Lord, we ask that you continue to comfort and bless the Brown family,” was part of Shaffer’s prayer. “And the many friends and colleagues. All these things we ask and give thanks for in Christ’s precious name.”

“The love that’s evident here in amazing,” Keith Brown said. “Seeing all these people, many of them I coached — I haven’t seen many of them in a while. Over 10 years. I think we’ve been up there 10 years, eight years, something like that. It’s been 10 years I’ve been retired.

“Just the love that’s shared, that’s the nicest I’ve ever heard Coach Shaffer in my entire life,” Brown said with a smile and a laugh. “Seeing people like Todd Jullierat, who I haven’t seen probably in (inaudible). Just the outpouring of love is amazing.

“I know Christy Wall has had a huge hand in this,” Brown said. “Brady Streitenberger, Greg Phipps, Mary Kay, the church and everything, it’s amazing.”

Drew Brown, Kyle’s younger brother, could not be at the ceremony Thursday. He is a missonary in Costa Rica.

The Brown family sported blue shirts emblazoned with the words, One Pitch At a Time.

That was something Kyle imparted to Drew. “That how you get through tough situations,” Brown said.

“There’s just a lot of love here,” Brown said.

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