Eddie Robinson, Four Time All-Star & The Oldest Living Major League Baseball Player Is 100 Today
(Eddie Robinson 1920-2021, see update at end of story)
Eddie Robinson, a big six foot two lefty first baseman who played for seven teams in a 13 year major league career, turns 100 December 15, 2020.
Born in Paris, TX, Eddie Robinson is among the few players still alive who played alongside and saw firsthand many of the great players of the twentieth century.
Robinson was in the big leagues from 1942 – 1957, missing three prime seasons to serve in the military during World War II. His career numbers are 172 home runs, 723 RBI’s and a .268 batting average.
Playing in the World Series could bring a player a financial bonanza, sometimes nearly as much as a regular season salary, When Robinson was traded after the season from the 1948 World Champion Cleveland Indians to the perennially terrible Washington Senators, he was surprisingly relieved and happy.
At It all started in spring training in 1948 when Cleveland player-manager Lou Boudreau never asked Robinson how he was feeling after he had a leg operation in the winter. “Don’t misunderstand, I don’t want to leave the impression that I must be babied, but I do think a manager at least ought to be interested in one of his players/ Lou wasn’t in my case,” Robinson said.
“Lou Boudreau and I didn’t seem to hit it off,” Robinson opined after being traded. “I was in and out of the lineup so often that I scarcely knew from day to day whether I’d play. It broke my spirit I guess.”
The final straw for Robinson came in a game when Boudreau pinch hit for him. Robinson swung and missed two pitches from Yankees southpaw Tommy Byrne. Boudreau pulled Robinson mid at bat for another lefty, Hal Peck. “If Lou sent up a righthander to swing for me I wouldn’t have been so mad. The problem to Robinson was “I had already gotten a hit and driven in a run off Byrne in the first inning. Peck took a third strike”
Washington owner Clark Griffith gave Robinson a raise upon his arrival. Robinson concluded ,”I feel certain I wouldn’t have gotten one if I remained with Cleveland.”
The Senators, White Sox & Athletics
In 1949 and part of 1950 with Washington, Robinson batted .282. On May 31, 1950 Robinson was traded to the White Sox.
During the next four seasons Robinson flourished, stringing together strong seasons playing for the White Sox from 1950 through 1952 and the Philadelphia Athletics in 1953.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
For a player who played with and against Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, Early Wynn, Billy Pierce, Virgil Trucks, Hal Newhouser; Bob Lemon and Mel Parnell, the toughest pitcher for Robinson to hit off of he says was Eddie Lopat.
After the 1953 season Robinson was elated to get traded to the New York Yankees. Robinson enthusiastically beamed, “I’ve always wanted to become a Yankee – for a lot of good reasons. There’s the important matter of all, that World Series dough. There’s that low 294 foot right field wall at the Stadium – without Hank Bauer jumping up in front of it. And there’s also the fact that I won’t have to bat against Eddie Lopat any more.”
Coach, GM, Scout & Player Development
After Robinson retired from playing in 1957 Robinson became a coach for the Baltimore Orioles. He then worked for the Athletics as the farm system director. In the 1970s he was the Braves general manager. Robinson moved back to his native Texas working in the Rangers front office in various roles. In the 1980s Robinson went on to be a scout and a player development consultant for many teams. Robinson concluded his executive career in baseball in 2004.
Alert and ready to share his stories, Robinson has a delightful podcast The Golden Age of Baseball which can be heard here. He will also answer questions sent to him via email on his podcast and still signs autograph requests.
Happy birthday and good health to Eddie Robinson.
UPDATE 10-5-2021 – The inevitable happened. Eddie Robinson died at his home in Bastrop, TX, a little more than two months shy of his 101st birthday.