Sadly, today's post brings back the return of Unpossible Autograph Friday. Until today, no former O's had passed away yet in 2014, and as far as I know, Paul Blair was the last former Oriole to pass, back around Christmas 2013.
This past week, two former Orioles players passed away, something that has happened very rarely over the years I've been following the Orioles. Outfielder Earl Robinson died on Friday, July 4
, and utility man Don Lenhardt passed away on Wednesday, July 9
. I haven't written much about either player on my site so I will try to give them each a decent write-up today.
Earl Robinson played in four MLB seasons between 1958-64; he debuted with the Dodgers in 1958 and played eight games with them, but his remaining 162 big league appearances were all with the Orioles. He hit .268 with 12 HR over 421 Major League at-bats.
While in college at Cal, he starred in baseball and basketball and went on to become a basketball coach after his baseball career ended. He went on to become a college professor and teacher, and was very active in various civic activities in the Oakland area. He was enshrined in both the Cal Hall of Fame and the Pac-10 Hall of Honor for his many achievements over the years.
Earl had been experiencing health problems in recent years, and apparently had a few cardiac events in 2013 that he never fully recovered from. Not knowing this until now, I had actually sent Earl a TTM request earlier this year, but it was returned to sender. I obtained this autograph online about five years ago.
Don Lenhardt played in five MLB seasons from 1950-54 for the St. Louis Browns, White Sox, Red Sox, Tigers, and Orioles. He spent the majority of his career with the Browns/Orioles franchise, as 298 of his 481 MLB games were spent with them. Don hit .271 with 61 homers, and 239 RBI over his time in the bigs. He likely would have had a longer MLB career but had joined the Navy during WWII, thus delaying his time in professional baseball. After his playing career ended, Don served as the Red Sox' Midwest area scout for over 40 years, having retired from that role in 2002.
One interesting story that I read about him is how he earned the nickname "Footsie" from teammates due to his issues finding shoes that fit him properly. However, I don't see a note about whether he had abnormally large or small feet, so that part remains a mystery.
I have shown this card on my site one other time
, way back in my first month of blogging in 2009. Don was one of the first people I had sent a TTM request to, and he was kind enough to sign this and send it back to me in just eight days. It looks like Don was still signing for fans as recently as late 2013, so he seems to have really cared about the people who wrote to him.
RIP Earl & Don. The Orioles family will miss you!
*To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is not very smart, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible."