Jackie Robinson 1945 KC Monarchs rookie, Monarch Corona Pastime #1

The first paragraph on back tells about Jackie’s aborted tryout with the Boston Red Sox in April of 1945.  He showed up, along with Sam Jethroe of the Cleveland Buckeyes and Marvin Williams of the Philadelphia Stars.

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The tryout was delayed for several days because the nation was in mourning after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  When it did finally occur, it didn’t last long.  Boston Globe sportswriter Clif Keane said he heard a person yell from the stands during the tryout, “Get those niggers off the field!”  Keane believed it was Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey.  Others have said it was General Manager Eddie Collins.  Whoever it was must have had some authority, because the three men were quickly removed from the field.

 

jackier2The Red Sox finally integrated in 1959, a full 14 years after Jackie Robinson tried out with the Red Sox.  Sam Jethroe did end up becoming the first black player in Boston in 1950, but for the rival Boston Braves.

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Miami Dolphins 1968 Draft Picks – rookies Larry Csonka & Jim Kiick

What a draft ’68 was for the Fins. Not only these two running backs, but Pro Bowler & All Pro defensive back Dick Anderson.

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They also drafted Tom Paciorek, who never made it in the NFL, choosing to play baseball instead. Tom had an 18 year career as a 1st baseman and outfielder in the majors.

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I wish there was a card of Jim’s dad George Kiick in 1940 as Pittsburgh Steelers fullback. George missed ’41-44 serving in combat, and was awarded a Silver Star. He came back for another season in ’45.  They say he was also a great baseball player at Bucknell College.

 

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Detroit Tigers Rookie Stars: Al Kaline – Reno Bertoia – Frank Lary

There could have been a 4th player on this card – a man by the name of Earl Robinette.

Who???

 

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Earl Robinette.

The contract was on the kitchen table. It was the summer of 1954.

Robinette was 19, the oldest of six children, and he was working on the family farm. Robinette was using a horse to cultivate a cornfield because the ground was wet and he couldn’t get the tractor in that area. He was about a quarter-mile from the house and he saw his father waving a white towel up and down, the signal to return to the house.

So Earl got on the horse and rode up to the house. He was filthy. His brother brought out a towel and a clean shirt and they hosed him down.

Inside the house, three members of the Tigers’ front office were sitting at the kitchen table. They offered a contract to play for the Tigers. The offer included a $28,000 signing bonus.

Robinette’s parents didn’t react.  They never said anything.  Nobody said anything. Earl kept waiting for his dad to say something. He figured he’d say, ‘Well, this is what we have been working for.’

Earl was really excited, but nobody else was.  He was a quiet obedient son, so he just accepted it.

Robinette had been discovered by a Tigers scout at a tryout camp in Mt. Pleasant, which was held in late June 1954.  An outfielder with a strong arm, he could hit well from both sides of the plate.

The contract was on the table, quite literally.  But his parents sat in silence.

The Tigers officials left, taking the unsigned contract with them; and Robinette (many years later) said he could never figure out why his parents reacted like that, why they didn’t encourage him to accept the deal.

“To tell you the truth, I really don’t know,” Earl Robinette said. “It was never brought up again. My father never said a word. He just sat there at the kitchen table.”

And it was the one regret of his life, not signing that contract.

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Kaline went on to a Hall of Fame career.

Bertoia was a mediocre hitter, but the fans loved him.

Frank Lary was a solid starter for 7 years in Detroit, winning 117 games during that period and twice winning 20+ games.

Earl Robinette later spent 37 years teaching college fine arts and became an artist. You can see some of his work at earlrobinette.com

 

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