East Bay’s Stolen Base King

Jared Darling, Sports Photographer

In just 44 games for California State University, East Bay’s baseball team, Essex Brown Jr. has already etched his name into the record books. Last season, Brown Jr. stole 33 bases for the Pioneers, eclipsing Raymond Stokes’ previous record of 29: a record that had stood for 16 years prior to Brown Jr.’s efforts. 


The senior center-fielder dazzled in his first campaign for CSUEB, quickly becoming a mainstay at the top of the Pioneers lineup thanks to his lightning speed and incredible ability to swipe bases. Time and time again fans and opponents would marvel at Brown Jr. shooting a single through the defense, quickly stealing second base, and scoring a few pitches later. California Collegiate Athletic Association teams fell victim to this script repeatedly, giving pitchers and catchers nightmares while simultaneously giving coaches headaches on how to slow Brown Jr. down on the bases — a near insurmountable task as the star Pioneer successfully stole bases against seven of East Bay’s nine CCAA opponents last campaign, resulting in leading the CCAA by 15 stolen bases. 


“I’m thinking no one can throw me out, and if they do they got lucky,” Brown Jr. said smirkingly. Brown Jr. proved himself right as East Bay opponents rarely got lucky, managing to throw out Brown Jr. just six times over his 39 attempts, boasting an impressive stolen base success rate of 85%. 


For Brown Jr., setting East Bay’s new stolen base record is the culmination of perfecting his craft throughout the years. From a young age, Brown Jr. has made stealing bases a focal point of his game: “My whole career stealing bases has always been a part of my game,” Brown Jr. revealed, adding that he noticed his skills early on. “Every time I got on base I would steal second and third base, sometimes even home. My aggressiveness on base paths are still the same,” commented Brown Jr.


Brown Jr. already finds himself tied for tenth on East Bay’s all-time stolen base list in just under a full season. Should Brown Jr. repeat his record-breaking season, the standout Pioneer will secure a second place on the list. If, however, he steals 45 bases in his 2023 campaign, Brown Jr. will shatter his own record and find himself as East Bay’s all-time stolen base king.


In anticipation of the upcoming season, Brown Jr. reflected on his impressive season last year, expressing gratitude to his coaches and teammates: “[A] big thank you to my coaches for giving me the freedom and trusting me on the field [since] it showed me that the hard work I put in over time really paid off.” 


Thinking of the legacy he will leave behind, Brown Jr. is excited at the prospect of becoming an East Bay legend: “It feels good to know that my name will forever be in East Bay’s history book,” Brown Jr. shared. 


Regardless of the season outcome, the previous record-holder, Raymond Stokes, is convinced Brown Jr. has already cemented his status as one of the greatest players to grace the East Bay Pioneers and is confident in his imminent triumph: “[I’m] extremely proud of him, [he is] doing great things [and] I’m sure he’s going to put about 50 or 60 more [stolen bases] on the board this year.” 


Aside from his performance on the diamond, Stokes commends Brown Jr.’s dedication and wishes him good fortune in his future endeavors: “I heard he’s a great player, great kid, I wish him nothing but the best in the future. Hope he can make it all the way to the professional ranks and keep playing.”


With East Bay’s 2023 baseball season officially underway, Brown Jr.’s stolen base quest will be an intriguing storyline to follow throughout the year and something that he is looking forward to in his last season on the hilltop. “Since this is my last year, I’m excited to make this a memorable season to finish out my career at East Bay. I look forward to having a winning season with my brothers,” remarked Brown Jr. What the season has in store remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, Brown Jr. is going out with a bang and leaving his mark on Pioneer baseball history.