I was glad to see Derrick Robinson called up from Triple A when Ryan Ludwick was placed on the disabled list after Opening Day. Robinson, a switch-hitting speedy outfielder, had some pretty good minor league seasons in the Kansas City organization but for whatever reason, never seemed to get a legitimate shot with the Royals.
Robinson had a decent spring training with the Reds, batting .300 and turning some heads with his speed.
But then I got an email from a friend back home and he said something to the effect that, finally, the Reds had another player named Robinson after the disastrous trade of Frank Robinson after the 1965 season.
Not true. There was another guy named Robinson that played for the Reds.
Ron Robinson was a pitcher for the Reds in the 1980s. He also had one of the best nicknames I’ve ever heard —- he was called the True Creature.
Robinson had red hair and freckles, and was a stocky righthanded pitcher. His best year was 1986, when he posted a 10-3 record and had an earned run average of 3.24 pitching out of the bullpen. And one year before Tom Browning became Mr. Perfect, Robinson took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Montreal Expos on May 2, 1988 at Riverfront Stadium (I still refuse to call it Cinergy Field) in front of 35,266 fans.
The Reds had a 3-0 lead, thanks to home runs by Kal Daniels and Chris Sabo. Robinson, who was coming off elbow surgery the year before, retired the first two hitters in the ninth inning and then went to a 2-2 count on pinch hitter Wallace Johnson. Robinson’s next pitch was a hanging curve ball and Johnson lined it into left field for a single to break up the True Creature’s gem. Tim Raines then smacked a home run before acting manager Tommy Helms
called in John Franco from the bullpen to get the final out. (Manager Pete Rose had been suspended for 30 games after the shoving incident with umpire Dave Pallone).
The Reds traded Robinson to the Brewers during the 1990 season and the True Creature went on to post a 12-5 record. He didn’t win the Cy Young Award (as Frank Robinson won the MVP in 1966 after being traded) but the trade didn’t come back to haunt the Reds. Robinson’s arm injuries continued and he was out of baseball three years later.
So here’s to Mr. Robinson: both the True Creature, who was one pitch away from baseball immortality, and to Derrick Robinson, the newest member of the 2013 Cincinnati Reds.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.