Goodbye, Number 20

“And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

– John Donne


A comment and reply from yesterday’s post:

David Banner

You do have amazing timing. R.I.P. Frank Robinson.



I wish I didn’t.


The news of Frank Robinson’s passing is very sad to me, obviously. Even though we knew he was ill that knowledge does not anesthetize us. I am going to be a guest on a radio talk show tomorrow in my hometown to talk about Frank. I really don’t know what I am going to say because words are simply inadequate.

Here is a link to the post about Frank Robinson on his birthday last year. I will always be grateful for his counsel and his friendship. Unlike most baseball people of his generation Frank had an open mind about the use of statistics in baseball, despite some of the public comments he made while he was manager of the Nationals. I have many stories I could share, but perhaps a bit later.

From a picture of Frank’s Hall of Fame plaque. I am proud to have known him.



Throwback Thursday, Why Not? Edition

Who said Throwback Thursday had to be about cars every week?

Thirty years ago I was a part of this team that almost won the AL Eastern Division. Why is that a big deal? What does “Why Not?” mean?

My first year with the Orioles, 1988, we were awful. We set a “record” by losing our first 21 games of the season and finished with the worst record in baseball at 54-107 (in case you don’t know, or even if you do, that means the team won 54 games and lost 107).

In 1989 the Orioles led the division for most of the season (118 days in first, to be exact) and had a chance to win the division at the end in a head-to-head series with Toronto, the eventual division champions. Why Not? had become the motto of the season as in why couldn’t a team go from awful to champions in one year.

One of my favorite memories from that or any other season actually happened just before Opening Day. We were in Washington, DC playing an exhibition game. After the game I was in the clubhouse and Frank Robinson, Hall of Famer and Orioles’ manager in 1989, handed me something and asked, “What do you think?” It was the lineup for Opening Day. Of course, the stat guy in me said, “Phil Bradley leading off? He’s 4-for-26 with 14 strikeouts against Roger Clemens.” Frank said, “I know, but I have to bat him leadoff on Opening Day or it will send him a bad message.”

After we talked about the lineup Frank went somewhere else. It dawned on me that my favorite baseball player growing up had just asked for my opinion on the lineup he made. The Orioles beat the Red Sox and Roger Clemens on Opening Day, 1989. For a team that had started the previous season 0-21, winning the opener was very important.

The Orioles didn’t really choke down the stretch in 1989 finishing with a respectable 33-26 record from August 1 through the end of the season. The Blue Jays just played better: 37-20 for the same period.

Unfortunately, the 1989 season was probably not a true indication of that team’s ability. For 1990-91 the Orioles had a 143-180 record. Still, that didn’t take away from the amazing experience of 1989.

It is a GREAT feeling to be right when the rest of the world is wrong. If only I could do it again…

Thanks to Lon Babby for sending the photo.




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Happy Birthday, #20!

Today is Frank Robinson’s birthday. When I was growing up in Baltimore he was my favorite player on the Orioles, by far. Brooks Robinson was the favorite of all of my friends, but not me. (No offense intended to Brooks Robinson and please don’t tell me I have to elaborate on the accomplishments of either person.)

Incredibly, I later had the good fortune to work with Frank Robinson during my time with the Orioles. He and I had a very good relationship and he told me on more than one occasion that if he were to ever become a General Manager he would give me a very high position in his “administration,” perhaps even Assistant GM. A story along those lines: one day I was walking past his office and stuck my head in to say hello. I noticed a baseball cap on his desk I had never seen before with the letters “CR” on it. I asked Frank, “Cedar Rapids?” He said, “No, Colorado Rockies.” I asked, “Are you going somewhere?” Frank replied, “No, but if I do I’m taking you with me.” You have no idea how amazing I felt after he said that. Sadly, my life seems incapable of generating that kind of “magic” any more. Unfortunately for Frank (and for me) he was never named General Manager for any organization.

I haven’t spoken to Frank since he was “relieved” of his position as Manager of the Nationals. I don’t really know how to reach him and I am 100% sure he will never see this, but: Happy Birthday, Frank Robinson!


From “Ask The Man Who Owns One (a book about the history of Packard advertising): in 1910, the electric self-starter for automobiles had not been invented; by 1916, 98% of the cars sold in the US had an electric self-starter. By the way, over 1.5 million cars were produced in the US in 1916, so that 98% is not a small number.

One day I will write a (long) post about Charles Kettering and the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company, better known as DELCO. If you couldn’t put two and two together, Kettering invented the modern electric self-starting and charging system for automobiles. For that invention he received one of his 186 US patents. The “Kettering” in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is in honor of Charles Kettering.

See the source image

From a picture of a 1912 Cadillac, the first car in the world to offer an electric self-starter.

Tomorrow is September 1st?!