CHARLIE KELLER PASSES
Columbus, OH — Hall of Famer Charles Ernest Keller III, 82, of Frederick, Md., and New Smyrna Beach, Fla., died peacefully on Aug. 13, 2021.
He was born on Aug. 4, 1939, in Frederick to Charles E. Keller Jr. and Martha Williamson Keller. Along with two younger siblings, Donald and Jeanie, he spent his childhood with their many neighborhood friends playing baseball, basketball and other sports in the parks, YMCA and Little League diamonds around town.
He attended Frederick High School and graduated in 1957. He was especially proud to be part of the winning state championship basketball team that year under Coach Homer Brooks.
Mr. Keller attended the University of Maryland and played on both the freshman baseball and basketball teams. In 1959, he left College Park and, along with his brother Donald, signed with the New York Yankees. It was also in 1959 that he married his high school sweetheart, Connie Jean Butler of Buckeystown. They have been lovingly together ever since.
Mr. Keller played three years in the Yankees farm system for teams in Texas, North Dakota, Virginia and New York, earning many accolades and awards. In 1961, while playing for the Binghamton (N.Y.) Triplets, he led the Eastern League with a .349 batting average. He was also first in slugging percentage, on base percentage, total bases, doubles and triples as well as second in RBIs and third in home runs. His performance propelled him to the 1961 Eastern League All-Star team, a “Maryland Future Star” award from the Maryland Professional Baseball Players Association and second place in voting for The Sporting News’ Minor League Player of the Year. Later, in 2007, he was inducted into the Binghamton Triplets’ Hall of Fame.
After his stellar season with the Triplets, in 1962 he was called up to the “Bigs,” reporting to spring training with the Yankees in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he hoped to follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately, persistent back injuries forced him to retire just before the regular season began. Locally, in 1989, he was inducted into the Alvin G. Quinn Sports Hall of Fame.
After his baseball career, Mr. Keller attended Baltimore College of Commerce and earned his accounting degree. As a Certified Public Accountant, through diligence and innovation in accounting practice management, he ascended to Managing Partner in several firms practicing within the MD-VA-DC region. Throughout the years he was equally proud of the lifelong friendships he developed as well as the fine reputation he garnered in his industry.
He performed as an office holder, committee member, or Board Member in many professional clubs and organizations, such as the Maryland Association of CPA’s (MACPA), The American Group of CPA Firms (TAG) and the governing body of the accounting profession, the American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA). He was delighted to be included in the inaugural class of inductees into the AICPA’s Accounting Hall of Fame.
Mr. Keller also served on many local boards including the YMCA, Homewood Retirement Centers, Hood College, Frederick Memorial Hospital, the Frederick Rotary Club and Christ Reformed Church in Middletown. He was gratified to be instrumental in the development and fruition of the Frederick Campus of the Homewood Retirement Community.
In 1998, Mr. Keller retired from the accounting profession and became more active in the family business, known as Yankeeland Farms. The farm was established by his father in 1955 after his major league baseball career ended and — along with Donald — grew the farm into a nationally recognized horse breeding operation that was routinely positioned among the sport’s leading breeders.
Mr. Keller greatly enjoyed these years and was an integral part of the farm’s continued success. He also became active in several prestigious horsemen’s organizations and rose to hold prominent offices in all of them. Even though the farm closed its doors in 2007, for a variety of reasons, he always remained active with the horses and industry organizations. He served five terms as a District 11 director for the U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) from 1999-2014 and was active on the finance committee. He became a director of the Hambletonian Society in 2000, later serving on the executive committee of the society and was the executive chairman from 2013 to 2015.
By utilizing a practicality learned during his tenure in the accounting field he was able to help initiate practices to invigorate the sport and put it on solid footing for the future. His accomplishments and good character were acknowledged by the industry by his induction into the harness racing Hall of Fame in 2016.
“We have a financial calculation at the USTA that we call the Charlie Keller line,” said USTA president Russell Williams. “Back when he was a director, Charlie taught us that a membership association running on members’ money must maintain specific reserves against expenses. Thanks to Charlie we are a stronger organization for our members. Charlie did a lot of good that people don’t know about, and this is just one example.”
After his retirement from the accounting profession, Charlie and Connie moved to New Smyrna Beach, Fla. Many trainers bring their horses south to winter in Florida and escape the harsh winter weather. Mr. Keller would often visit the nearby training centers to watch the progress and catch up with his many horsemen friends. Charlie and Connie also enjoyed golf, the beach and many special friends during their golden years in Florida.
Mr. Keller is survived by his wife of 62 years, Connie; son, Charles E. IV (Chaz), daughter-in-law, Emy Jo and daughter, Gabrielle. His grandchildren are Charles E. V (Chase) and wife, Lauren, and Maxann (fiancé Joseph Lockard). His great-grandchildren are Charles E. VI (Chance) and Grant Alexander. He is also survived by his brother, Donald, and his sister, Jeanie Reeder, as well as their very special families.
Contributions in his memory can be made to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., to the Frederick County, Md., YMCA, or to the Hospice of Frederick County. His family would like to express their gratitude to the hospital and hospice workers who were so supportive while he was in their care.
Following a private burial, the family will welcome friends and family to a Celebration of Charlie’s Life at Dutch’s Daughter Restaurant at 581 Himes Ave., Frederick, on Thursday (Aug. 19) from 1-4 p.m.
From the USTA Communications Department - August 16, 2021
To make a memorial donation in Mr. Keller's name to the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, please click HERE.