Charlie Brotman is announcing his 14th consecutive Inaugural Parade as I type this.
Brotman is a DC legend. Along with his work with presidents, he’s a fixture on the local sporting scene. He announced Senators games at Griffith Stadium. He handled PR for Ray Leonard when Sugar Ray was among the most famous athletes in the world. And for decades he took care of publicity for nearly every major golf or tennis event that DC hosted.
And everything Brotman does, he does with a smile.
Now back to me: In 1980, I went to the pro tennis tournament at Carter Barron with some fellow teenage drunks. We intended to heckle the top seed, Jimmy Connors.
And with the courage provided by the extra large beers sold at the event — no fooling, beer buyers were offered “regular,” “large” and “tub,” and we only went for the latter — we heckled and heckled and heckled the guy who had been the world’s top-ranked player for most of the previous decade.
“Where’s the centerfold, Jimmy!” was our go-to line for Connors, who had only recently married former Playboy playmate Patti Connors.
Connors wasn’t offended by our taunts. Instead, he walked over during his match and told us we were going to be his guests for the rest of the tournament. He took us to the post-match press conference and instructed the guy running the conference, Charlie Brotman, to hand out all-access player passes to all four of his wannabe tormentors.
Brotman was appalled by the request, but Connors got what he wanted when in DC. We got the passes.
We showed up two days later for Connors’ next match. He played horribly. We acted worse.
Because of the passes, we didn’t bother buying tubs of beer. There were buckets of iced bottles in the players’ tent, where we hung out even while Connors was losing. Our day ended early when Brotman came over and wagged his finger at us and said: “I’ve gotten complaints from EVERY SECTOR OF THE STADIUM about you!”
Connors was out of the draw. We were no longer welcome at Brotman’s tournament.
Years later, I got to know Brotman through covering events he ran, including the tennis tournament. Turns out he’s as nice and happy a guy as you could meet. He probably hasn’t yelled at anybody since those four drunk kids played the fools at Carter Barron.
I wrote a story about Brotman sometime in the 1990s, and, even without any tubs of beer in my system, worked up enough courage to apologize for my behavior at his tournament all those years ago.
He told me not to worry about it. What a guy.