Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Frank Robinson, 2009 Topps Ring of Honor #RH28

At the risk of becoming the Willard Scott of the Orioles blog community, I have to wish a happy 74th birthday to Frank Robinson, who made such a profound impact on the O's and the city of Baltimore that it's hard to believe that he played here for only six years. When Robby arrived in Charm City in the winter of 1966, the O's were a team loaded with talent that had not been able to get over the top. In the previous six years, they had posted five winning seasons (including four years with at least 89 wins) but had yet to bring home a pennant. In Number 20's very first year in orange and black, he:

-Hit home runs in his first three games of the season.

-Hit the only home run to ever leave Memorial Stadium on the fly, and did it against Luis Tiant, who had strung together three straight shutouts to start the season.

-Strengthened team chemistry by presiding over a kangaroo court.

-Became the Orioles' first black superstar.

-Saved the day in Yankee Stadium, robbing Roy White of a game-winning three-run homer by leaping and falling into the bleachers for the final out. According to Frank, the always-classy fans in New York made at least four death threats on him in between games of that day's doubleheader.

-Won the American League Triple Crown, leading the loop in average (.316), home runs (49), and RBI (122), as well as runs (122), on-base percentage (.410), and slugging (.637).

-Became the first player to win the Most Valuable Player award in both leagues.

-Won the World Series MVP, hitting two home runs in the O's four-game sweep over the favored Dodgers. His solo shot off of Don Drysdale accounted for the only run in the Series-clinching fourth game.

So Happy Birthday, Frank, and thanks for 1966 and everything since.


Commishbob said...

Wow, Kevin. I love that card. I'll always think the world of Frank Robinson.
My Dad and I were at the Yankee DH when Frank made that catch. I had a back cover of Baseball Digest that showed the sequence of him catching it, falling into the stands and getting up. Had it on my wall for years. BTW... Ralph Houk got tossed when he was arguing the call during the lineup card exchange for the second game. LOL.
In 1969 I took a banner to Yankee Stadium I painted with Frank's #20. A bat boy offered to take it to the clubhouse during the pregame. Soon after Frank came up the steps of the dugout with the signed banner and gave it back to me.
One final Frank story, and my favorite. I was with my University of Houston buddies watching the Cougars play Arizona State in 1972 in the Astrodome. At one point I turn around and in the aisle is a guy who looks just like Tommy John. Dawned on us that it WAS Tommy John, the Dodgers were watching the game right behind us while killing time before their game with the Astros that night. Then we saw that the whole section was filled with the Dodger team and Frank was sitting at the end of my row. I had to go over and say 'hello' and make some stupid small talk about the O's missing him while he signed my football program.

Thanks for giving me the chance to relive a couple of cool baseball memories. and Happy Birthday Frank!!

Kevin said...

Bob - Thanks for sharing! I remember you mentioning previously that you'd been at the game with Frank's catch. It's great to hear that you had some positive experiences meeting him!