Wednesday, January 31, 2007

According to Frank..

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Read more by Jim Williams
Jan 31, 2007 3:00 AM (4 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 8 of 16,073 articles

WASHINGTON - When I spoke to Frank Robinson earlier this week he was very excited about his part-time role as “special analyst” for ESPN to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

Robinson will provide insight for a variety of studio programs including “SportsCenter,” “Baseball Tonight,” “Cold Pizza” and ESPNEWS. He will also work as an analyst in the booth during select Spring Training telecasts, appear on ESPN Radio shows and chat on Robinson’s stint with ESPN ends April 15th.

As always, talking to Frank was a learning experience. Here are some highlights:

» Robinson on his new role with ESPN: “My goal is to inform people of the significance of Jackie’s accomplishment. Had he not broken the color barrier in 1947, we have no idea how long it would have taken for a black man to play in the major leagues. His role in baseball history has impacted every person of color — black, Hispanic or Asian — that has played this game since Jackie came on the scene in 1947.

Some players today do understand how important Jackie was to baseball, but there are a large number that don’t have a clue about his significance and we hope that through our efforts we can educate them along with the fans.”

» Robinson on the problems he faced early in his career and his time in Baltimore: “It was pretty rough as a kid in the minors in some towns and, of course, in the South. Later in my career, when I was traded to Baltimore, things were much different.

I did have trouble buying my first house but that was an isolated incident. By far the people of Baltimore were great to me and my family and we have many fond memories of our days there.”

» On managing in Washington: “I had two great years in Washington, they were fun years. The fans were wonderful to me and my family and there would be times when the team had lost a few games and I would be out having dinner and fans would come up to me and say how happy they were to have the team in town. I would say, ‘Hey, we just lost three games’ and they would say ‘Hey Frank, don’t worry. We love you and the team and we are just happy that you are here.’ My time in D.C. was just great and I am sorry that my stay ended so soon.”

» On returning to Washington for the planned ‘Frank Robinson Day’ this summer: “Right now, I really don’t know. I have been thinking very hard and long about it. I am really thinking about if it is the right thing for me to do. My wife is in real estate out here in Los Angeles and I need to see how her schedule works out, along with the rest of my family. I will give it some more thought and hopefully I will come to a decision soon and give Jim Bowden a call this week.”

» On his future in baseball: “First of all, I am very happy to be part of ESPN and all that they are doing to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. That will end in mid April, and then I would love to stay in baseball in some capacity either as a broadcaster or as a member of a front office. I still feel that I have plenty to offer an organization and I just love baseball.”

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.

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