A LIVING LEGEND: Klein Forest Names Field After Drown For Leadership Off The Field
LARRY DROWN IS A LEGEND IN KLEIN ISD.
Well, it takes one to know one.
When Drown was a kid in Minnesota, his father got him a job selling newspapers at Metropolitan Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins.
“I hustled for three cents for every newspaper I sold,” he said. “It was a great job because I was around the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Brooks Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline – all the legends back then. I got to see Rod Carew and Tony Oliva take their first at-bats in the Majors. That’s how I learned the game when I was 11 and 12-years old.
“I was very observant and watched the centerfielders (Lenny Green and Jimmie Hall). I was left-handed and played outfield, too. I’d watch them in pregame and how they got a jump on the ball. How they reacted live off the bat. I was engrained in baseball. It was a huge part of my life growing up.”
Drown moved to Arlington, Texas as a junior in high school when his dad went to work with Raslton Purina. He played baseball at Arlington and was a tireless worker.
“I had this bag of baseballs that I collected from Twins’ pregame batting practices with me from Minnesota,” he laughed. “Like 80 or more baseballs. Me and my buddy would take batting practice and we wore those balls out.”
“Those balls were all autographed by the greats that I had signed when I was working at the ballpark,” Drown said. “What those balls would be worth today.”
Drown went on to play at Hill Junior College and then Texas Tech before getting into coaching high school football and baseball.
“I received my first baseball head coaching job at Graham High School and then moved on to Magnolia,” he said. “In 1984, I was hired at the newly-opened Klein Forest, where I was for 20 years.”
Drown was an assistant for football and baseball, before being named the head baseball coach in 1992.
“I got to coach a bunch of great kids,” he said. “We really had to work to compete in a tough district. We made the playoffs in 1994, 1996 and 1998. Our coaching staff was one of the best a guy could ever work with.”
Some of my great assistants included Robert Ray, Steve Brewer, Tony Cugini and Lee Koslosky.
Coincidently, one of his assistants was Lance Alexander – the school’s current principal.
“Larry Drown coached baseball for years at Klein Forest,” Alexander said. “During his tenure, he was highly respected in the community and in baseball coaching circles. As a young assistant coach learning from him, he modeled how you are supposed to treat students and how to do things the right way.”
While the wins and losses were important, Drown’s biggest legacy was what he taught off the field.
“Baseball is about the attention to detail, it’s about discipline, it’s about hard work paying off,” he said. “It’s about hustling on and off the field. It’s a way of life. You just take all of those qualities and apply them to your life outside of baseball.”
In February, Klein ISD dedicated the baseball diamond at Klein Forest to their former coach. It will be named Larry Drown Field.
Drown retired in 2004 and launched another career by accident. While also working in the district, his wife doubled in an after-school program from elementary students.
“She asked me to take her spot,” he said. “I said no, but she insisted. I liked it once I got involved. It changed hands over the next few years, and I didn’t like the direction it was going. I quit one day and then I was on Legal Zoom starting up my own program. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it the right way.”
Drown started Campus Kids, LLC. Ehrhardt Elementary became his first client with just 16 students. Over time, it began to flourish and now Campus Kids is on 41 campuses.
“We have been able to hire the best people, give them what they need and don’t micromanage them,” he said. “We provide a safe environment, have homework time with some of the best educators and then have some fun outdoor activities.
“Some of the funds we raise act as a fundraiser for each school,” he said. “We’ve been able to give back over $1 million back to the district.”
Even in his 70s, Drown has no plans of slowing down.
“He has devoted his life to caring for kids in this district,” Alexander said. That’s what legends are made of.