Monday, April 11, 2011

Eddie Robinson: "Lucky Me: My Sixty-Five Years in Baseball"

Anyone who is involved in the game of professional baseball for sixty-five years is more than lucky; they’re blessed. Eddie Robinson, now 90, recounts his lengthy career as a player, coach and executive in his autobiography, “Lucky Me: My Sixty-Five Years in Baseball,” which is currently available via SMU Press.

Eddie Robinson - Lucky Me / SMU Press
Robinson, along with help from co-author C. Paul Rogers III, speaks eloquently about his six-plus decades in baseball. Growing up in Paris, TX, Robinson had his start from humble beginnings in the farming community during the Great Depression. Signed into professional ball in 1939, he began a career that saw Robinson make stops with seven different American League ball clubs from 1942-1957, as well as three years of World War II Service that almost stopped his playing days dead in its tracks.

Recovering from a botched surgery to remove a bone tumor during World War II, Robinson endured a long and hard road to return to baseball in 1946. Not only did Robinson come back, he excelled. Robinson had a banner year that season, winning the MVP of the Triple-A International League, beating out an upstart Jackie Robinson, who was on his quest to make baseball history. This wouldn’t be the first time that the Indians farmhand would have a brush with baseball’s integration, as he was involved in some controversy surrounding the debut of Larry Doby the following season.

Robinson was the only right-handed first baseman on the club, and was asked to defer to Doby by lending the rookie his glove to play the position. Only days before, manager Lou Boudreau has assured Robinson that he was the team’s primary first baseman. A flummoxed Robinson threatened to quit after lending Doby his glove; however, he explained his reasoning was not due to Doby’s race.

“I threatened to quit because of my anger at Boudreau, not because he was a black guy coming in,” he said.

After winning the World Series with the Indians in 1948, he was traded to the Washington Senators for Mickey Vernon. This would begin the merry-go-round that would see him visit seven teams in the next nine seasons. It is through these travels where the book takes shape.

Robinson adds colorful tidbits about his career at the end of extra chapter entitled, “Extra Innings,” which are anecdotes that enliven the stories of his career. Through his play with seven different franchises, Robinson details many innings that illustrate the depth of his career. Robinson has a story for seemingly every “name” player from the 1940s and 1950s and tells them in a manner that keeps the pages turning.

For the New York fans, Robinson expertly details his time as a member of the New York Yankees from 1954-56, where he helped man first base under Casey Stengel’s platoon. Robinson would later return to the Yankees in the early 1980s as a scout.

While not a Hall of Famer, Robinson merits a lot of credit for his long relationship with the national pastime. Whether it was as a player, coach or executive, Robinson put his best foot forward and reaped the rewards of a long-time association with the sport. “Lucky Me,” allows the reader to ride along with Robinson through his sixty years in baseball, taking in the scenery every stop of the way.


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