Womack: When Frank Robinson mellowed and won Manager of the Year

From SABR member Graham Womack at The National Pastime Museum on November 20, 2017:

If someone wrote a screenplay about the 1989 Baltimore Orioles, it might seem contrived even by Hollywood standards.

Fresh off a 54–107 season, Baltimore rebounded to 87–75 in 1989, making the second-best improvement to that point in Major League history. Baltimore improbably spent much of 1989 in first place in the American League East, remaining in contention until the season’s final days. Aside from future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., the Orioles mostly did this with an assortment of young players and castoffs.

There was reliever Kevin Hickey, who’d last played in the Majors in 1983; Randy Milligan, the third overall pick in the 1981 draft who’d only amassed 105 MLB plate appearances when Baltimore traded for him in November 1988; and a young catcher named Mickey Tettleton, about to make the Oakland Athletics sorry for releasing him in spring training in 1988.

It’s maybe the closest baseball’s ever come to imitating a cliched sports film where a collection of lovable losers makes a run at glory, falling just short but gaining something more valuable in the process. So of course Baltimore was managed in 1989 by someone who’d fit right in with these characters—a legend who’d been cast aside by two franchises, hurt as much by bungling decisions from each team’s front office as by the volatile attitude he’d brought to each job.

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/when-frank-robinson-mellowed-and-won-manager-year

Originally published: November 20, 2017. Last Updated: November 20, 2017.