Remembering Frank Robinson

Today would have been Frank Robinson’s 84th birthday. He is the only player to have been named Most Valuable Player in both leagues. (National League – 1961; American League – 1966) Frank was the first black manager in major league history. He was named to the All-Star team 14 times.

For me, his legacy is that he was my favorite baseball player growing up in Baltimore and incredibly, improbably I later worked with him while with the Orioles. He and I became friends and he grew to respect my baseball knowledge and acumen. I wrote about this story on his birthday last year, but it bears repeating. 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.

It is still difficult for me to think that Frank Robinson is no longer alive. (He died in February of this year.) An old hospice joke goes, “Life goes on. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

I just wanted to write about Frank today. Very often, words are really inadequate, but they are often the best we can muster.


See the source image


From a picture of Frank Robinson.





Throwback Thursday, #20 Edition

This post is not about recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Ed Reed.

The late Frank Robinson (who also wore Number 20) appeared in a dream once again. He visited me in the hospital (?!) and seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being. When he asked how I was doing, all I could say was, “I don’t know.”


See the source image


From (Sports Illustrated’s website) a picture of Frank Robinson.


From the sublime to the slime…If one were to grab a male Baltimore native aged 50 or older and ask who were the three most evil people in history, he might very well answer: Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and Robert Irsay. (Don’t ask me why I am writing about this today because I don’t know.)

I had a friend (remember that I was born and raised in Baltimore and was a die-hard Colts fan) who defended Irsay’s moving the Colts to Indianapolis and continued to root for the team after the move. This (former) friend was the ultimate knee-jerk contrarian and I believe that was his way because he felt that made him smarter than others or more special than others. Being a knee-jerk contrarian is no more profound or insightful than being a knee-jerk conformist.

This friend also used to deny what a miserable excuse for a human being Irsay was. Well, here is a long excerpt from a Chicago Tribune story from 1986:


“But even worse, Indianapolis got Robert Irsay, the rich Chicagoan who owns the team.”

“Irsay has long had a reputation in Chicago as a loudmouthed boor and braggart. And in football as one of the biggest bumblers in the game–a millionaire who treats a team like his personal toy and his players and coaches as disposable slaves.”

“Of course, being a loudmouthed boor and braggart is not unusual in Chicago. Just look at some of our biggest civic and political leaders. But now we learn that those are among Irsay`s teeniest imperfections. In its current issue, Sports Illustrated prints a meticulously detailed story of the grubby life and times of Bob Irsay.”

“It says that he . . . that he . . . well, there`s so much, I`m not really sure where to start.”

“I mean, what are we to think of a guy whose own mother, at age 84, is quoted as saying about her son:

”’He`s a devil on Earth, that one. He stole all our money and said goodbye.'” [emphasis mine]

“Irsay`s mom was referring to how, as a young man, Irsay got his start toward becoming Chicago`s biggest sheet-metal contractor and a financial wheeler-dealer.”

“His mother, his own brother and others say he did it by quitting his father`s sheet-metal company, taking away customers and employees and eventually driving his old man out of business.”

“As his younger brother put it: ”Bob actually worked to destroy his own father. Oh, he`s a real sweetheart all right.'”

“Then there`s his military record. Irsay has occasionally boasted about his wartime exploits. In interviews, he`s told of being injured by a Japanese grenade on New Guinea and being discharged as a commissioned officer.”

“Many of us like to talk about our wartime injuries. I`ve often told my kids how I wrenched my back when I got stewed and rolled out of an upper bunk. But the magazine checked Irsay`s version with the Pentagon. True, he was a marine. But the Japanese soldier who tossed the grenade must have had an incredible arm, since military records show that Irsay never left the states. And he was discharged as an enlisted man.”

“The magazine also looked into Irsay`s frequent boast that he played Big 10 football at the University of Illinois while getting a degree in electrical engineering. All this while waiting on tables at a frat house to work his way through school because his family was poor. Being a former Big 10 football player has given Irsay the aura of having knowledge of the game.”

“But the magazine found that Irsay didn`t play football. Nor did he get a degree. And while he went to Illinois, he didn`t wait on tables–he belonged to the fraternity and his businessman father picked up the tab.”


My former friend said that none of these stories were true. Yes, never let the facts get in the way of your opinions. Hey, a POS is a POS.




If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL ( Thanks.





Sober Sunday

Frank Robinson appeared in a dream I had this morning. My wonderful wife and I were wandering through a large, crowded building—maybe a department store—when we saw Frank dressed in a suit and tie. The timing of the dream was after the announcement that he was in hospice care. When I said hello I almost broke down in tears as I thanked him for what he had done for me and I told him to hang in there.

Here are some posts about the late, great Frank Robinson:

Happy Birthday, #20

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday, Why Not Edition

Goodbye, Number 20


While I am referring to some posts, here are the three most read posts so far this year:

Saturday Salary Arbitration

Saturday Song

Throwback Thursday



After the talk I gave last Tuesday, I asked Michael Lewis if he would write a one- or two-sentence recommendation for me. This is his gracious reply:

“[He] was one of the leaders of the movement that I described in Moneyball. He was an original thinker before original thinking became fashionable.”

Of course [He] is my name, but this blog is still anonymous. My resume will now have recommendations from Bill James and from Michael Lewis. I still probably won’t be able to find an interesting and fulfilling work situation, but no one can accuse me of not pulling out all the stops.


See the source image


From a picture of a Lexus RC F, in purple because that’s my wonderful wife’s favorite color.

What do we think of this car? I have always “looked past” it because I am mesmerized by the LC. Even ignoring the RC F Track Edition the RC F is not an ugly car and is a good performer.

The RC F is powered by a 5-liter/303 cubic-inch V8 that produces 467 HP/389 LB-FT of torque. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic. The RC F is supposed to have a 0-60 MPH time of 4.3 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 12.8 seconds. Those are impressive performance figures.

I think the perception of this car suffers because it is a Lexus. Despite the amazing LFA, Lexus is not known for performance cars. In general, to quote Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, cars are disappearing. I have railed against that development many times in this blog, but that’s probably akin to howling at the moon.







If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL ( Thanks.



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.




If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL ( Thanks.


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?!