During the 1985 Major League Baseball season, HBO Sports would air a bi-monthly Chase For The Pennant show….which was typically hosted by Barry Tompkins and Tim McCarver…..with interchanging guest from the MLB universe whose opinions were valued in the community….as evidenced by Hall of Fame player Orioles Frank Robinson….and his Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver on this program herewith.
Frank Robinson (August 31, 1935 – February 7, 2019) was an American outfielder and manager in Major League Baseball….who played for five teams from 1956 to 1976….and was the only player to be named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of both the National League(NL) and the American League (AL)….after he was named the NL MVP after leading the Cincinnati Reds to the pennant in 1961….then was named the AL MVP in 1966 with the Baltimore Orioles….after winning the Triple Crown with his 49 home runs, .319 batting average and 122 runs batted in….which during that year tied for the most HR’s by any AL player between 1962 and 1989, while standing a franchise record for 30 years. Robinson helped lead the Orioles to the first two World Series titles in franchise history in 1966 and 1970….and was named the Series MVP in 1966….after leading the Orioles to a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 1975, he became the first black manager in major league history.
A 14-time All-Star, Robinson batted .300 nine times….hit 30 home runs eleven times….while leading his league in slugging four times….and in runs scored three times. His 586 career home runs ranked fourth in major league history at the time of his retirement…. plus, he ranked sixth in total bases (5,373) and extra-base hits (1,186)….while being eighth in games played (2,808)….and ninth in runs scored (1,829). His 2,943 career hits are the most since 1934 by any player who fell short of the 3,000-hit mark. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1982.
Robinson went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. For most of the last two decades of his life, Robinson served in various executive positions for Major League Baseball, concluding his career as honorary President of the American League….so, any way you cut the pie….Frank Robinson knew baseball.
During Earl Weaver’s tenure as big-league manager….the Orioles won the American League pennant in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1979. In 1969 the Orioles were defeated in the World Series in five games by the New York Mets team known as the Miracle Mets. In 1970 the Orioles won the World Series by defeating the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” in five games. In 1971 the Orioles lost the World Series in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates….as Pirates pitcher Steve Blass pitched a complete game and gave up four hits in the deciding seventh game, allowing the Orioles to score one run.
In 1979 the Orioles again lost the World Series in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates….as pitchers Jim Bibby, Don Robinson, Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve held the Orioles to four hits and one run in the deciding seventh game. In 1982, Weaver announced he would retire at the end of the season…..a season which saw the Orioles wallow at the back of the pack for the first half of the year before climbing in the standings to within just three games behind going into a season-ending four-game series against the division-leading Brewers at Memorial Stadium. The Orioles beat them handily in the first three games to pull into a first-place tie. The final game of the series, and the season, on October 3, would decide the AL East title. Televised nationally on ABC, the Orioles suffered a crushing 10-2 loss. After the game, the crowd called for Weaver to come out. This tribute to the retiring Weaver provided intense emotion against the backdrop of the season-ending defeat, as Weaver, in tears, stood on the field and applauded back to the fans, and shared words and an embrace with Brewers manager Harvey Kuenn.
Owner Edward Bennett Williams coaxed Weaver out of retirement midway through the 1985 season….but he retired for good after an injury-plagued 1986 season….which was the only full losing season of his major league career. Weaver’s managerial record is 1,480–1,060 (.583), including 100+ win seasons in 1969 (109), 1970 (108), 1971 (101), 1979 (102), and 1980 (100). Weaver also boasts a record high 94.3 wins per season. He is still far and away the winningest manager in Orioles history.