It’s about two hours before game time, and the Orioles are holding an unveiling ceremony for a Frank Robinson statue that was built beyond the left-center field wall here at Camden Yards. A’s manager Bob Melvin, who played under Robinson in Baltimore, is attending. Melvin has immense respect for Robinson and says he had a huge impact on him.
“I often say he really made me grow up as a player in this game,” Melvin said. “He challenged me and at times had me challenge him. It seems to be that over the course of your career, there are a couple guys who really have an impact on where you go, and he was one for me.”
Melvin said Robinson had incredible knowledge of the game — an outfielder who knew something about pitching as well as every position on the field. And he taught Melvin an important lesson. Melvin had enjoyed a great game with the Orioles, but saw that his name wasn’t in the lineup the next day. Steamed, he walked past Robinson’s office once, then twice, and then three times without working up the nerve to go in.
“He just kind of looked at me and he said, ‘Hey, do you wanna talk to me?” Melvin recalled. “I told him I should be in the lineup, and he pulled out another lineup card and said, ‘You are in the lineup.’
“He wanted me to fight for myself.”
It’s quite a lineup on hand to honor Robinson, who attended McClymonds High School in Oakland. Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer are among those in attendance.