Well, it takes one to know one.
When Drown was a child in Minnesota, his father got him a job selling newspapers at Metropolitan Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.
“I hustled three cents for every newspaper I sold,” he said. “It was a great job because I was with Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Brooks Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline – all legends of the era. I got to see Rod Carew and Tony Oliva take their first at the batting in the Majors. That’s how I learned the game when I was 11 and 12.
“I was very observant and watched the center players (Lenny Green and Jimmie Hall). I was left-handed and also played in the outfield. I watched them pre-game and how they jumped on the ball. How they reacted live. I was rooted in baseball. It was a big part of my life growing up.
Drown moved to Arlington, Texas as a junior in high school when his father went to work with Raslton Purina. He played baseball in Arlington and was a tireless worker.
“I had this bag of baseballs that I picked up from the Twins pregame batting practices with me from Minnesota,” he laughed. “Like 80 baseballs or more. My buddy and I were taking batting practices and we were running out of those balls.
“These balls were all autographed by the greats I signed when I worked at the ballpark,” Drown said. “What would those bullets be worth today.”
Drown went on to play at Hill Junior College and then Texas Tech before coaching high school football and baseball.
“I got 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 new Klein Forest, where I was for 20 years.”
Drown was an assistant for football and baseball, before being named head baseball coach in 1992.
“I coached a group of great kids,” he said. “We really had to work to be competitive in a difficult district. We made the playoffs in 1994, 1996 and 1998. Our coaching staff was one of the best a guy could work with.
Some of my great assistants included Robert Ray, Steve Brewer, Tony Cugini and Lee Koslosky.
Coincidentally, one of his assistants was Lance Alexander, the school’s current headmaster.
“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 showed how you’re supposed to treat students and how to do things the right way.
While wins and losses were important, Drown’s greatest legacy was what he taught off the court.
“Baseball is about attention to detail, it’s about discipline, it’s hard work that pays off,” he said. “It’s about hustling on and off the pitch. It’s a way of life. Just take all of those qualities and apply them to your life outside of baseball.
In February, Klein ISD dedicated the Klein Forest baseball field to its former coach. It will be called 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 elementary school student program.
“She asked me to take her place,” 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, then I was on Legal Zoom starting my own program. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it the right way.
Drown created Campus Kids, LLC. Ehrhardt Elementary became its first customer with just 16 students. Over time it started to flourish and now Campus Kids is present on 41 campuses.
“We’ve been able to hire the best people, give them what they need, and not micromanage them,” he said. “We provide a safe environment, have homework time with some of the best educators, and then we have fun outdoor activities.
“Some of the funds we raise serve as fundraisers for each school,” he said. “We were able to give back over a million dollars to the district.”
Even in his 70s, Drown has no intention of slowing down.
“He dedicated his life to caring for the children in this neighborhood,” Alexander said. That’s what legends are made of.