Yesterday, we learned that Orioles great and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson had passed away. He was 83.
I was lucky enough to get to know Frank during my time at the Orioles. His humor, willingness to be helpful, and energy was a positive force within the Orioles organization.
When you learn someone has passed away, you take a moment to be pensive. To truly understand how quickly life goes by, and that a little appreciation for people, places, and things is important in life.
If you’ve read my blog at any point in the past, you know that I write quite sentimentally about my time working in baseball. I consider it a privilege to have worked and retained friendships with so many wonderful people I met during my time there. I have friendships that are over 30 years strong after working with the ballclub for 13 years. You tend to become like a family. You grow up together. You care about people, and although many of us have left the ballclub and have had children and changed careers, we do our best to keep in touch. We strive to have reunions. There’s a level of respect and collegiality that will never go away, and when we see each other again at a gathering to catch up, it’s as if not a day has gone by.
I decided to roll my love for baseball and the people I met along the way into a fictional novel back in 2015 called Baseball Girl. I’ll never tell if the character of Zeke Watson or Freddy-the-Fly is loosely based on a combination of Frank and our late beloved bullpen coach, Elrod Hendricks (wink, wink). When you decide to write a story, you steal aspects of people you have met and allow the characters to develop on their own, but you can insert elements of people into your fictionalized version of a story, and in particular, a story like this that is set in pro baseball. When I say the book is loosely based on my life working in baseball, it is just that. It’s elements and aspects and nuances, but it’s all borrowed from the people and situations I came across in baseball. It was a wonderful time of my life.
Frank Robinson’s accomplishments were many. I could try to list them all, but the Baseball Hall of Fame does a much better job. You can click the link for more details about his outstanding career.
As for me and many of the people who knew him, we loved his snarky sense of humor and the way he kept things real. It was wonderful to see the tributes on Facebook last night.
So here’s to you, Mr. Robinson.
Stephanie Verni is the author of Beneath the Mimosa Tree, Baseball Girl, Inn Significant, The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry, and an academic textbook Event Planning: Communicating Theory & Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt, that she co-authored with colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus & Chip Rouse.