Nicknames: Bobby, The Human Vacuum Cleaner
Position: 3b, ss
Teams: Indianapolis ABCs (1925-1926, 1938),Cleveland Elites (1926), Chicago American Giants (1927), Birmingham Black Barons (1927), Memphis Red Sox (1927-1928), Detroit Stars (1929-1931), Baltimore Black Sox (1932), Cleveland Stars (1932), Cleveland Giants (1933), Cleveland Red Sox (1934), St. Louis Stars (1934-1937, 1939-1941)
Height: 6' Weight: 170
Born: October 25, 1903, Whistler, Alabama
Died: May 17, 2002
Noted for his good glove at third base, he was called the "human vacuum cleaner" by some observers. He developed his baseball skills as a youngster in Mobile, Alabama, and was playing semi-pro ball in Pensacola, Florida, in 1924 when he was recommended to the Indianapolis ABCs. After coming up with them in 1925, he split the 1926 season between them and the Cleveland Elites while batting only .129 for the year. In 1927 he continued his fine fielding and raised his batting average to .251 while again splitting the season between two teams, the Memphis Red Sox and the Birmingham Black Barons. The Black Barons captured the second-half title in the Negro National League's split season, only to lose the championship playoff to the Chicago American Giants.
In 1929 he joined the Detroit Stars, batting .309 and .260 in his first two years with the team. In 1930 Robinson played in his second league championship series, when the Detroit Stars went on a tear, winning 23 games in succession to capture the league's second-half title, only to lose to the St. Louis Stars in the playoff. That season provided Robinson with his most memorable defensive play, in a late-season game against the St. Louis Stars, when he made a one-handed stab of a line drive and fired to second base, from where the ball was relayed to first base to complete a lightning-fast triple play. The next season, his last with the Detroit Stars, he again held down the hot corner while usually hitting in the sixth slot.
At the plate he was a mediocre hitter with only fair power. He was an average base runner and not an active base stealer. After the original St. Louis Stars' franchise folded, he played with the new St. Louis Stars' ballclub that was organized, but the team fielded a league team in only one season, 1937. In 1938 he played with the new ABCs as a part-time starter, batting seventh in the order. The next season the franchise relocated to St. Louis, playing as the St. Louis Stars and marking the third franchise of the same name in the city's history. He became the regular third baseman, batting second in the order, and in 1940 he was still with the Stars but lost his starting position.
After closing out hs baseball career in 1942, he worked as a brickmason for thirty years and eventually settled in Chicago.
Baseball Career Highlights:
"My most memorable defensive play occurred in 1930 with the Detroit Stars against the St. Louis Stars for one of the championship games. "Cool Papa" Bell was on third playing off base trying to steal home. When the St. Louis batter, Branch Russell, hit a low line drive to me, I stepped on third and caught "Cool," then fired the ball to Grady Orange at second base for a lightening fast triple play."
After baseball, Robinson worked as a brick mason and retired as a brick mason foreman for the City of Chicago, Illinois, where he currently lives. He and his wife, Bernice, were married for 69 years and raised three sons and two daughters. Mrs. Robinson died in 1998. Robinson has 11 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
Awards, Honors, Titles, Championships,
Robinson has received numerous awards from schools across the country and from his church. "Exceeding all other awards" was being inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in April 2000.
NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.
James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.