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Friday Bird Droppings: Where we’re saying goodbye to an Orioles superstar

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He was one of the greatest to ever play the game, and one of the greatest to ever appear in an Orioles uniform. Rest in peace, Frank Robinson.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Yesterday was a somber day in Baltimore, and all across baseball, with the news of Frank Robinson’s passing at the age of 83.

Robinson was truly an unforgettable presence in baseball lore, from the incredible Hall of Fame career — in which he racked up 586 home runs and 1,812 RBIs over his 21 seasons, and won MVP awards in both leagues — to the trailblazing tenacity that saw him become the first black manager in MLB history. Robinson was an iconic figure in Orioles history, transforming them from a good team into a World Series champion during his six incredible years as a player, and later serving as a manager, coach, and executive. His statue stands proudly at Camden Yards, one of just six Orioles legends to be so honored.

Fond memories of Robinson have poured in from fans, former teammates, and media, including a wonderful tribute from our own Mark Brown. Yesterday on MLB Network, Orioles Hall of Famer and MASN broadcaster Jim Palmer shared further accolades.

“Thank goodness the Cincinnati Reds thought that Frank was an old 30,” Palmer said. “At the end of the day, he made all of us better players. He was going to play the game hard. He was going to play the game fair. And he was a guy, I think, when you look across into our dugout, that’s the guy you didn’t want to face in the ninth inning. He was just a marvelous player. Obviously I’m a little biased because I played with him all those years, but I’ve been around the game over 50 years, and he was one of the great offensive players I ever saw.”

And Robinson, of course, was perhaps the best clubhouse leader in Orioles’ history.

“They used to have a non-fraternization thing,” Palmer said, “where you’re not supposed to talk to the other team. If anyone did, Frank would fine them $50. Frank would go, ‘No, we don’t talk to the other team. We beat the other team.’ So he kind of set that edge. We used to have that kangaroo court, and guess who the judge was? It was Frank Robinson. He ruled.”

Indeed, Frank Robinson ruled. By every definition of the word.

Links

Frank Robinson, MVP, first black manager, dies at 83 - ESPN
Among the notes in this biography of Robinson is that he had trouble finding housing when he came to Baltimore because some landlords refused black tenants. Society is the worst sometimes.

Remembering Frank Robinson: Former Orioles talk about what he meant to the team and to them – The Athletic
Dan Connolly breaks down a few of Robinson’s Orioles highlights, with commentary from some of his former teammates.

Frank Robinson remembered for his ability, toughness and fairness - BaltimoreBaseball.com
More of Robinson’s teammates and colleagues chime in with their remembrances of the Orioles legend.

Mourning the loss of Frank Robinson - School of Roch
Jim Palmer offers further thoughts on Robinson's indelible imprint on the franchise, and Brooks Robinson and the Angelos family pass along their statements.

Rosenthal: Fond memories of Frank Robinson, one of the game’s all-time greats who was driven by pride - The Athletic

Remembering Frank Robinson - MLB.com
National writers Ken Rosenthal and Richard Justice — who were Orioles reporters when Robinson managed the club — share their stories from the beat.

Frank Robinson's Top 10 MLB moments - MLB.com
MLB.com’s Matt Kelly runs through a few of Robinson’s most memorable moments in the majors.

Orioles sign Karns to major league deal (updated) - School of Roch
Lost in the Frank Robinson news is that the Orioles actually signed a major league free agent for the first time this winter, righty Nate Karns. To recycle my joke from Twitter: I rank the signing a 10 out of 10, because “Nate Karns” is an anagram of “ranks a ten.”

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share your big day with Camden Chat favorite Felix Pie, who turns 34 today. Although Pie’s overall stats in his three years with the Orioles were pretty terrible — .259/.303/.391 with 14 homers and 67 RBIs in 268 games — he won our hearts with his moxie and gumption and overall adorableness. And remember that time he hit for the cycle? Good old Felix.

Other ex-Orioles with birthdays today are 1974 nine-gamer Bob Oliver (76) and 1955-56 outfielder Hoot Evers. Evers, who died in 1991 at age 69, would have been 98 today.

On this day 11 years ago, Andy MacPhail pulled off a heist of a trade for the Orioles, dealing Erik Bedard to the Mariners for a five-player package that included Adam Jones and Chris Tillman. Jones by himself would have made the trade a steal; he spent 11 years with the Birds and ranks in their top five in hits, runs, homers, and RBIs, and his 31.5 WAR (per Baseball Reference) is 12th-most in Orioles history — not to mention his invaluable clubhouse leadership skills.

On top of that add Tillman, the Orioles’ ace during much of their recent winning stretch, and George Sherrill, who spent a season and a half as their closer, and all told the O’s received a total of 42.9 WAR in that deal (even including Tillman’s -3.3 the last two years). The Mariners, meanwhile, got 4.1 WAR out of Bedard in three injury-plagued seasons.

It was one of the greatest trades in Orioles history, perhaps second only to, well, Frank Robinson.