Lucky Me: My Sixty-Five Years in Baseball – #bookreview

Lucky Me: My Sixty-Five Years in Baseball
By Eddie Robinson, with C. Paul Rogers III
(SMU Press, $23.95)

Eddie Robinson has never been one of Major League Baseball’s headline-hungry bad boys.

A four-time American League All-Star and former general manager of the Texas Rangers, Robinson is still considered one of professional baseball’s true good guys, after a lengthy career that began during the Great Depression and lasted until his retirement in 2004.

Born in 1920 in Paris, Texas, Eddie Robinson started attracting team scouts well before he graduated from Paris High School.

In his entertaining and well-written memoir, Lucky Me, Robinson poignantly recounts how the Boston Red Sox offered to pay his tuition at the University of Texas at Austin, if he would join their minor-league system later on. “But,” Robinson writes, “times were still tough because of the Depression, and I was the principal breadwinner in our family because my parents were divorced.”

Rather than accept the Red Sox’s generous offer, he signed with a minor-league team, the Knoxville Smokies, and quickly used his signing bonus, $300, to pay some bills and buy his mother a washing machine.

From there, his fledgling pro baseball career quickly sank, and he soon was traded to a small-town Georgia team that played Class D baseball, “the lowest of the low,” he recalls. His manager told him he would never make it to the majors. But the next year, Robinson got better at hitting and fielding. With grit and determination, as well as some good coaching, he started scrapping his way out of baseball’s basement.

As he continued to improve, Robinson went on to play for several more minor-league teams. Then he made it to the majors and appeared on the rosters of seven American League teams, including the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees.

Robinson appeared in two World Series before his playing days ended in 1957. In his final at-bat, playing for the Baltimore Orioles, he was fanned by famed knuckleball pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm. The next morning, Robinson reported for work as a front-office management rookie.

Many of baseball’s greatest names pop up in Lucky Me, including Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, Billy Martin, Satchel Paige, Bob Lemon, Earl Weaver, Dizzy Dean and Paul Richards.

In the book’s foreword, Tom Grieve, a game broadcaster and former Texas Rangers general manager, recalls how Robinson gave him hitting tips when he was a young player attracting major-league scouts in 1966. Grieve later played for the Washington Senators, who became the Texas Rangers.

Ironically, when Robinson became the Rangers’ general manager, he eventually traded Grieve to another team, but he soon signed him back and later gave him his first front-office job as the Rangers’ director of group sales.

Not surprisingly, Grieve terms his friendship and work history with Robinson “a grand slam.”

Big-league baseball enthusiasts likely will view Eddie Robinson’s Lucky Me memoir in the same postive light, both for its fine details and its smooth flow. Robinson’s co-writer, C. Paul Rogers III, has co-written three other baseball books and is a professor of law and former dean of the Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas.

Si Dunn

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