Manager Buck Showalter isn't merely preparing the Baltimore Orioles for the upcoming American League East race. He's molding the young minds of the Orioles system by making them learn about the organization's storied history and tradition.
When legendary slugger Frank Robinson visited spring training in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday, Showalter asked 19-year-old prospect Josh Hart if he knew who the Hall of Famer was. Hart did not. So Showalter put Hart to work, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun:
Buck asked O's farmhand Josh Hart if he knew who Frank was. He didnt, so Buck told him he wanted a one-page report on him by tmrw. #Orioles
— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) February 24, 2014
That's just marvelous, as my grandmother would say.
Not every baseball fan, or even baseball player, is cut from the same cloth. We're all not going to be whizzes at trivia, or have stats memorized, or know each and every player in the Hall of Fame. We don't all hang out at Baseball-Reference.com.
And yet, some of you probably are horrified, alarmed or at least amazed that Hart didn't know of Robinson — NL Rookie of the Year with the Reds in 1956; a two-time MVP with the Reds and Orioles, including winning the 1966 Triple Crown; a 14-time All-Star with 586 career home runs; and the first black manager in major league history. (I bet that's a piece of information Showalter is looking for in the kid's report.)
And Robinbson was an important judge, apparently:
Robinson is pretty important. Like, if you know who Hank Aaron is, or even Jackie Robinson, you should know who Frank Robinson is. Frank Robinson, though, made a funny comment about being around the Orioles in recent years. Until the past couple of years, when the Orioles contended, it hasn't been easy:
Robinson was wearing an Orioles orange polo shirt, and he joked that he had pulled it out of his closet after many years because of the recent success of the club.
"I told them the last 13 years, I've had this shirt in my closet and I didn't wear it,'' he said. "So, I said the last couple of years I broke it out and I wear it now because I'm very proud of what this team did -- orange. I'm very proud of this team. They've brought back the pride in the Orioles and brought back a lot of good times for us old-timers and it's just great to see them."
At some point, the the feeling was mutual: Frank Robinson didn't want to know the Orioles, either.
A first-round pick (No 37 overall in 2013), Hart is going to be better off for having done this report, even if he never plays with the Orioles in the majors. And he can thank Showalter — Orioles manager and curator of MLB history.
Big BLS H/N: Hardball Talk
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