Saturday, January 29, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson might be the best all-around player to ever wear the Orioles uniform, but to me, he will always be the jerk who refused to sign a sheet of paper for me at a Minor League baseball game when I was about 8 years old. I'm not a big fan of the man nor of the autographed card of his that's currently in my collection.

It's a certified autograph and all, but it's not an Orioles card per se, so I would like to upgrade it one day. I just have a hard time justifying paying a lot of money for the autograph of a player I don't care for.

Now here's my story. I know that some of you might feel like I should get over the snub and appreciate how great Frank was during his six seasons in Baltimore. Honestly, Frank's playing career was finished six years before I was even born, so while I appreciate and enjoy the World Series Championships that he helped to bring to Baltimore in 1966 & 1970, my only personal experience with him was decidedly negative.

I was at a AA Harrisburg Senators game with my dad sometime during the summer of 1991. There were normally scouts at the games, but the O's must have been off that day, because we spotted their current manager at the game. It was none other than Frank Robinson!

I didn't really do the autograph thing way back then, I was generally too shy, but this was a Hall of Famer. Now I don't remember their being too many more than 500 people at the game because it was really hot and we seemed to be the only two who knew Frank was sitting in the stands. He was wearing a large sun bonnet-sombrero type hat to try to hide his face a bit, but we spotted him anyway. The only thing I had to get signed was the autograph page in the Senators' program but luckily the souvenir stand sold sharpies. I waited until between innings and walked over to Frank and quietly asked if he would sign my paper. "No". And that was that. The other guys he was sitting with, including the O's GM at the time, Roland Hemond, kindly signed my paper, but it was no consolation. Frank had refused my request and I dejectedly went back to my seat and told my dad that he refused to sign. I think my dad considered asking Frank to step outside to teach him some etiquette and/or manners. Now my dad isn't the violent type, so you know he had to be pissed.

About twenty years later, that is still what I think of when I think about Frank, and I probably always will. He's one of my least favorite Orioles because of that and maybe I'd feel different if I was around for his playing days, but I wasn't. As Night Owl commented in my post about Brooks Robinson, his brother had a negative experience with Brooks and it's stuck with him over the years. While that seems to have been uncommon considering Brooksie's typically pleasant demeanor, Frank has a reputation as a curmudgeon. And I'm here to tell you it's true, at least in my experience with him.

If you want to read about Frank's career you can go here or here. Apparently he was pretty good.

Don't forget to enter my contest. Tomorrow is your last chance to win a certified autograph of Earl Weaver.


Hackenbush said...

I think Brian at 30-year Old Cardboard also had a bit of a negative experience with Frank.

Paul Hadsall said...

I have that same Nabisco card.

I got ignored by Frank when he was managing the Nationals one day when I was trying to get autographs of players as they came in to Shea Stadium... I didn't take it personally, but I don't have any warm fuzzy feelings about him. :)

Justin McLeod said...

I've never had the opportunity to meet Frank, so I haven't been rejected, but I've never liked the guy, either.

Dustin said...

And look at that big old loop on at the end of his sig. Who does he think he is? But seriously, I'm sure the Brookses of the world and maybe even the Cals have their bad days, and maybe that was it. Denying a kid an auto sounds like more than a bad day, though.

Dawgbones said...

Well, they say 1 Awe Sh#*^, wipes out 1000 at-a-boys. All it takes is one negeative experience to turn the public against you. Great players, great drivers, and even good actors, the result is the same. I've met about 12-16 NASCAR drivers in my life, I started rooting for Michael Waltrip because of the impression that he left me with when I met him in person. I would not cross a vacant street to shake Ricky Rudd's hand if you promised me $1000 to do it. John DeLancy (from Star Trek TNG's Q character) is one giant ASS in person. Where as Stephen Furst, Animal House's "Flounder" is the greatest person, well "in-person" made me really feel like he valued my time and effort to meet him. Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy is the same way, really tries to connect with his fans, makes an effort to let you know he appreciates your attention.

zman40 said...

That's too bad and I am glad that my experience went a little better with him when I got him to sign a ball in Montreal. He didn't say anything to me, but he still signed it despite the security guard telling him in his best Frenglish that I "was with the enemy" (the Royals were in town).

All in all, Orioles Hall of Fame week has helped me appreciate my collection a little more. I have balls signed by Frank and Cal and I have cards signed by Cal, Hoyt, Brooks, and George. That doesn't seem too bad for not really trying to get O's HoFers.

Greg Zakwin said...

Frank's got a beautiful autograph.

Orioles Magic said...

Hackenbush- I don't doubt that more than a few others had a similar experience with Frank over the years.

Paul- I've been ignored by plenty of backup catchers and garbage time relief pitchers over the years, but Frank was the only one who stiffed me as a kid. It's obviously stuck with me.

Dustin- funny stuff

dawgbones- thanks for sharing, I guess as with anything, some people are good and others just aren't.

zman-I'm glad that Frank was nice enough to sign for you. And that's pretty impressive considering that it's not a focus of your collection!

Greg- He does. Maybe that's why he doesn't sign too often. He wants to preserve the quality of his graph.

Dawgbones said...

I'll have to agree with Greg, Mr. Robinson does have a nice signature. You can actually tell who the sig is suppoed to be. I got my wife a Phil Harris auto off the Bay (unfortunately, after he passed) and you can tell who signed that one as well. I've heard those Deadliest Catch crew members are a blst in person.

Matthew said...

I too was born after the F-Rob playing years, and with no experiences with him, I'm just posting to keep my HOF week posting streak alive. Your story was interesting, though.

FanFest was great yesterday. The highlight was getting my picture taken with Adam Jones. He looked really sick, like he had the flu or something. I think it was cool that he came out despite feeling bad, but I went straight to the bathroom and washed my hands after I met him. Adam Jones' flu germs are not the kind of souvenir I was there for.

unclemoe said...

I've gotten Frank's autograph at least three times. One time he was extremely friendly and even joked around. I was a little shocked.


Orioles Magic said...

db- I bet they are!

Matthew- I'm glad you had a good time, I'm probably gonna do a wrap post tomorrow.

unclemoe- That might be a record for getting Frank in person. Maybe I caught him on a bad day, but I was a dang kid!