One of the somewhat dubious benefits of my current employment location is a couple of televisions above the front registers, each tuned to ESPN albeit with the sound off. Although there are times I would like to hear exactly what whichever set of talking sports heads are yakking about, not having any audio has its advantages. Especially this week, during which I’d rather supply my own dialogue to the endless visual parade of Tom Brady worship (yes, I’m a bitter Rams fan). Hopefully next year.
Anyway, today in-between harangues about why I haven’t made retail miracles happen, I noticed whenever I glanced upward the shows were all NBA trade deadline deals all the time, with somewhere around 99.44% focused on what would the Lakers do since their attempted trade for Anthony Davis fell through. Um, get way more media attention than a team that’s currently one game above .500 and 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot deserves? But we are talking ESPN here, the channel that believes Lavar Ball’s insane boasts are newsworthy. Certain allowances must be made.
Then I noticed the ticker.
Frank Robinson had died.
My mind drifted back, back to watching Robinson play for the Baltimore Orioles when they were worth watching, thus were often featured on NBC’s Saturday morning baseball game of the week I often watched with my father. This broadcast, with among others Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek announcing, was the only nationally televised game each week, thus quite the event. Although I was quite smitten with my local teams the A’s and Giants, I rooted for Robinson because he had grown up in Oakland.
After his playing days, Robinson managed (no pun intended) a remarkable feat, becoming the first black manager in Major League Baseball. What was even more remarkable is that he was, and remains, one of the very few highly successful players who was also a successful manager, although his skills at same noticeably diminished during the latter years of his career.
Robinson managed the Giants in the early 1980s. Back then I was still a Giants fan before Will Clark and then Barry Bonds drove me away. The team has a penchant for late inning comebacks, and a familiar sight was Robinson standing on the dugout’s top step, arms folded across his chest, giving his batter the unmistakable stare that it would behoove him to not fail. Quite often they didn’t, although it would not have surprised me had at any point in time Robinson would have grabbed a bat and strode toward home plate muttering “forget these kids, I’m taking care of this myself.”
And so another memory, another link in the rapidly shrinking affectionate chain connecting me to my past has taken their leave. God speed, Frank Robinson. Wins and losses come and go, but heroes never fade.