Films on Friday: The Brooks Robinson Collection

Since we just celebrated Brooks Robinson Night on Wednesday, here’s a great video about his baseball collection that he donated to charity in 2015. The collection earned $1.44 million for the Constance & Brooks Robinson Charitable Foundation. The highest earning piece was his 1964 MVP award, which sold for $155,350. Included in the collection was a platter presented to him on Brooks Robinson Night in Arlington, Texas, in 1973. Alas, the puppy and the duck were not available for the auction.

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca





The Baltimore Robinsons

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Yank Robinson in 1888 with the St. Louis Browns

Of all the Robinsons that have played baseball (34 at my count), Baltimore has had two of the top three. (The top three being Jackie, Brooks, and Frank, naturally.) The other Robinsons that played for the Baltimore Orioles were: Earl (OF, 1961-64); Eddie (1B, 1957); and Jeff (P, 1991).

But did you know there was also Yank Robinson? And today is his birthday.

William H. “Yank” Robinson was born on September 19, 1859, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While his nickname conjures the name of Baltimore’s arch enemy, the New York Yankees, the origin of his nickname is unclear. According to SABR, the name “started to appear in print in 1886. Robinson was playing in St. Louis by then. The city had been divided on the slavery issue and was occupied by Union forces during the Civil War because of its strategic importance. The sympathies of the citizenry were split between the North and the South even after the conflict. This undoubtedly contributed to the nickname for a player with roots in Philadelphia and Boston.”

Yank played baseball back when teams had names like the Detroit Wolverines, the Pittsburgh Burghers, and Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers, three of the teams Yank played for. He also played for the Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns, and Baltimore Monumentals. Yank was with the Monumentals of the Union Association in 1884, where he was primarily the third baseman although he also played in 14 games as the shortstop, 11 games as catcher, and 11 as a pitcher. The Monumentals disbanded after the 1884 season, so Yank then signed with the St. Louis Browns (who would move to Baltimore a half a century later). Yank was with the Browns for 6 seasons, five of which were pennant-winning seasons for the team (1885-1889).

In 1890, Yank played for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the short-lived Players’ League, before returning to the American Association with Cincinnati in 1891. He was with the Senators in 1892, though his health was failing and played only 58 games that season.

Sadly, Yank Robinson died in August 1894 at the age of 34. But we are honored to consider him one of the Baltimore Robinsons.

~ baseballrebecca



Brooks Robinson Night

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Brooks Robinson in 1963

On September 18, 1977, Ted Cox made his Major League debut with the Boston Red Sox, going 4 for 4 in Baltimore. What’s more interesting is that it was Brooks Robinson Night at Memorial Stadium. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Walter Johnson Day, wondering whether it was a thing to have a day to celebrate a player. Well, apparently it was – at least for the baseball greats.

That night in 1977 was “Thanks, Brooks” Day in Baltimore. Robinson had retired a few weeks earlier to make room on the roster for catcher Rick Dempsey, who we returning from the disabled list. Despite requesting that there be donations to his favorite charities in lieu of gifts, Robinson was presented with: a new car, a Hawaiian vacation, replacement Gold Gloves from the Rawlings company (because he had donated his to charities), and vacuum cleaner from Lee May. In addition, Doug DeCinces, who had taken over at third base that year, walked over the third base, removed the bag, and gave it to Robinson.

Naturally, given Robinson’s importance to the Baltimore Orioles and the entire state of Maryland, 1977 was not the first time Brooks Robinson was celebrated. Exactly 13 years earlier, on September 18, 1964, the Orioles held Brooks Robinson Night. It was his MVP season and the 5th of his 16 Gold Glove seasons. On that night, Robinson was presented with a station wagon, a freezer, a color portrait of himself, a puppy, a duck, and 50 shares of Orioles stock.

I’m sure there were others, official and unofficial. In fact, every day should be Brooks Robinson Day. And everyone should get a puppy – or a duck.

~ baseballrebecca



Happy Birthday, Orlando!

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Orlando Cepeda with the Giants in 1962

Orlando Cepeda turns 82 today. Born on September 17, 1937, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Cepeda made his MLB debut on April 15, 1958. Between 1958 and 1974, the right-handed first baseman played for San Francisco (1958-66), St. Louis (1966-68), Atlanta (1969-72), Oakland (1972), Boston (1973), and Kansas City (1974). He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1959, an 11-time All-Star, and the 1967 NL MVP.

Whenever I hear Cepeda’s name, I think of this song by Danny Kaye – even though its about his Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and Orlando Cepeda are an important part of the tale:



~ baseballrebecca



Happy Birthday, Al!

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Al Lopez, Manager of the Chicago White Sox, in 1965 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Happy Al Lopez’ Birthday! Lopez was born on this day in 1908 and made his major league debut at the age of 20 on September 27, 1928. In his career, Lopez played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Bees, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cleveland Indians. He also managed the Indians and the Chicago White Sox. Lopez passed away on October 30, 2005, at the age of 97.

Lopez grew up in in Tampa, Florida; his parents had emigrated from Spain to Cuba, before settling in Tampa in 1906. A few years ago, I marveled at the legacy Lopez left behind in Tampa. Not only has his Tampa home been renovated to serve as a baseball museum, but a former Spring Training stadium as well as a park were named in his honor. Even the athletic center at his former high school, Jesuit High School, bears his name.

One of my favorite Lopez quotes still rings true for any generation:

“Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it’s business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you don’t love what you’re doing and you can’t give it your best, get out of it. Life is too short.” – Al Lopez

Happy birthday, Al!

~ baseballrebecca





Dave Dravecky’s Disability

Dave Dravecky with the San Francisco Giants (photo courtesy of

Yesterday, I pondered the meaning of the injured list. Speaking of being on the IL (or, perhaps DL, since this occurred 30 years ago), on this date in 1989, Dave Dravecky of the San Francisco Giants broke his arm when pitching to Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos. It was the last time Dravecky pitched in the Major Leagues.

The previous year, doctors had found a cancerous tumor in Dravecky’s pitching arm. In October 1988, he underwent surgery to remove the cancer; half of his deltoid muscle was removed and his humerus bone was frozen. Although he was advised not to pitch until the 1990 season, Dravecky wanted to return to baseball sooner. After rehabbing in the minors, he pitched in the majors for the first time since his surgery on August 10, 1989. He pitched eight innings and a 4-3 win over Cincinnati. His second start was against the Montreal Expos five days later. As he made that fateful pitch to Tim Raines, his humerus bone snapped and he fell to the ground. His arm broke a second time later that season as the Giants were celebrating winning the National League pennant.

In examining the x-rays of Dravecky’s arm, a doctor found a mass, which turned out to be malignant. Dravecky needed additional treatment and his career was over. He underwent additional surgeries, but his arm continued to deteriorate. In June 1991, he underwent another surgery – this time to amputate his left arm and shoulder.

Despite his disability, Dravecky was able to transition to a second career as a motivational speaker and author.

~ baseballrebecca