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.