Bruce Robinson (baseball)

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Bruce Robinson
Bruce Robinson Oakland A's 1975.jpg
Born: (1954-04-16) April 16, 1954 (age 65)
La Jolla, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 19, 1978, for the Oakland Athletics
Last MLB appearance
October 4, 1980, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Batting average.228
Home runs0
Runs batted in10

Bruce Philip Robinson, (born April 16, 1954, in La Jolla, California) is a former Major League Baseball catcher. He played parts of three seasons from 1978 until 1980 and was on the New York Yankees disabled list during the 1981 and 1982 seasons.

A first-round pick by the Oakland Athletics in the 1975 Major League Baseball Draft, Robinson's career was derailed by an automobile accident while playing for the New York Yankees in 1980. He never returned to the majors, though he continued to play in the minor leagues in 1983, with the Pittsburgh Pirates AAA affiliate in Hawaii and in 1984 with the A's in Tacoma and Modesto. During that time, Robinson was a player-coach for the Modesto A's in 1984, where he worked with future stars Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

Early years[edit]

Bruce Robinson was born in La Jolla, California, a beach community within the city of San Diego. Robinson is the youngest of three: brothers John Junior (Skip), Dave, and Bruce were all multi-sport stars in youth leagues and at La Jolla High School. Dave, Bruce's senior by eight years, graduated from San Diego State University and went on to become an outfielder in the Major Leagues with the San Diego Padres. Following his baseball career, Dave became a middle school physical education teacher in San Diego County. Oldest brother "Skip" was a collegiate pitcher and graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Skip was a career banking executive to the wineries of Sonoma and Napa counties in northern California.

After graduating from La Jolla High School in 1972, Bruce was chosen in the fourth round by the Chicago White Sox in the 1972 Major League Baseball draft, but elected to turn down their offer to attend Stanford University on a full baseball scholarship. Robinson received All-American recognition during both summer and college seasons at Stanford, breaking the university's single-season home run record in 1975.[1] To this day, Robinson hit more home runs with a wooden bat in a single season than any other Stanford player.[citation needed]

After finishing the school year at Stanford, Robinson joined the top summer collegiate program in the nation, the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks. There he played with dozens of players who went on to stardom in the Major Leagues, helping the Goldpanners win three consecutive national championships at the National Baseball Congress (NBC) Tournament in Wichita, Kansas. Robinson's 1974 squad is widely acclaimed as the best amateur team ever assembled.[citation needed]

Professional baseball career[edit]

Bruce Robinson at Yankee Stadium
Bruce Robinson at bat at Yankee Stadium

A first-round pick in the 1975 Major League Baseball draft (21st choice overall), Robinson got most of his major league at-bats with the 1978 Oakland Athletics. After batting .299 with 10 home runs and 73 RBI in 102 games with the Vancouver Canadians in 1978, he received a mid-August call-up to the Major League club and hit .250 in 88 plate appearances over the final 28 games of the season.

In 1980 Robinson, along with New York Yankees teammate Dave Righetti, was involved in a car accident in which his right shoulder sustained a career-impacting injury, necessitating reconstruction in May 1981. A drunken driver rear-ended Robinson and Righetti in Robinson's car.[citation needed] The resulting shoulder injury prevented Robinson from being the left-handed side of a catching platoon with the Yankees in 1981, and he missed both the 1981 and 1982 seasons while on the disabled list, and never made it back to the Major Leagues.

During spring training in 1984, Robinson led the Oakland A's in batting average but was sent to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, before accepting a player-hitting coach position with Oakland's class-A Modesto A's. Robinson's primary role was working with two young hitters, Mark McGwire (fresh from the 1984 Olympic team) and Jose Canseco, who at the time was under-performing.

Robinson's lasting legacy on the game is his invention of the "Robby Pad" in 1980.[citation needed] The "Robby Pad", a hinged flap on the throwing shoulder of a catcher's chest protector, began seeing widespread use in the mid-1980s and can be viewed on most every catcher's chest protector from the Major Leagues to youth leagues. One of the original two "Robby Pads" is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Robinson retained the original prototype and it is framed in his home in Idaho.

Robinson is the only former Major League player who can claim an affiliation with both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[citation needed] On August 24, 2012, Bruce performed 24 original songs as a solo act with his guitar and ukulele on the main stage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.


Robinson before his performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on August 24, 2012
Robinson's first album, It's About Time
Robinson's second album, In Good Hands
Bruce Robinson's third CD, 3

Robinson showed a love of music at 8 years old, and by age 10, he was saving his weekly allowance to buy 45s for $0.99 and Beatles albums for $3.00. Robinsons's first "gig" was at a La Jolla Elementary School P.T.A. meeting, singing with group of sixth-grade classmates. The musical group Nau & Them (Jim Nau, Robert McCleod, Tim Fallis, and Robinson) performed two songs made popular by Herman's Hermits, "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am" and "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter". Nau & Them recast the members for the following year and played two shows, including the annual La Jolla Fall Carnival, which gave them a dose of rock stardom. The band consisted of Nau (piano & organ), Joe Fawcett (lead guitar & vocals), McCleod (rhythm guitar), Larry Mulvaney (drums), and Robinson (bass guitar and lead vocals). That 1967 performance was the last for him until an open-mic event 41 years later in Twin Falls, Idaho.[citation needed] A serious guitar player since college, Robinson carried a guitar on road trips throughout his baseball career. He started writing songs in 2008 and has written and copyrighted 50 songs through February 2014, 44 of them written since November 2011.

Robinson credits a girl he met on the first day of kindergarten at La Jolla Elementary School in 1959 (and reunited with in 2007) with being the person that convinced him to write and perform music.[citation needed] Both songwriting and performing began in October 2008 when he wrote his first song, "Not Enough Time", and performed seven songs at his first open-mic in Twin Falls, Idaho.

It's About Time[edit]

Robinson released his debut self-produced music CD in January 2012, It's About Time, containing 20 original songs. Robinson plays guitar, ukulele, harmonica, banjolele, and provides lead vocals on all the tracks. The album was born out of Robinson's desire to leave a memory of his music for his kids and grandchildren. Originally intended to be a combination of cover songs and a few originals, Robinson wrote 14 songs the month prior to flying to Kansas City to record with a friend he had met at the National Association of Music Merchants (N.A.M.M.) trade show months earlier.

In Good Hands[edit]

In mid-July 2012, Robinson re-recorded the 20 songs from his first self-produced CD, and added in 13 new songs in order to have his entire catalog of music fully produced, working with sound engineer, Richard Livoni. Robinson released the album, In Good Hands in October 2012, a two-CD collection of country, blues, jazz, rock, and ballad originals. Robinson sings lead vocals, and plays guitar and ukulele. Backing him are musicians Aristotle Georgio (harmonica), Rick Nash (bass guitar), John Cain (keyboards and accordion), Joe Marillo (saxophone), Katie "Cat" Catinella (backing vocals), and Richard Blitz (lead guitar, dobro, percussion, and drums).


In June 2014, Robinson released his third CD, 3, consisting of 17 new original songs. As with his second CD, 3 leans country, but includes blues, rock, and one jazz tune. The band that backed Robinson for In Good Hands was reassembled for 3, with the addition of a pedal steel player, Tim "Steelbone" Cook.

Personal life[edit]

Robinson is the son of John Munro Robinson (1917-2017), a University of Minnesota law school graduate and banker/estate planner, and Kathleen (née Tanner) Robinson (1925-2002), a career housewife and homemaker.[citation needed] Robinson's next-oldest brother, Dave Robinson, played in the major leagues for two seasons with the San Diego Padres. Robinson is also the father of Scott Robinson,[2] an ambidextrous first baseman and catcher who played in the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners organizations, was league MVP with the Macon Music, and spent two years as a player-coach with the River City Rascals. After eight years of professional baseball, Scott attained an engineering degree and is a project manager/superintendent, managing multiple projects in the Bay Area. His daughter Kelly has four children and was an impressive athlete as a child. His youngest son Tommy runs a successful internet company, has a degree in criminology and justice studies, and is a sheriff's deputy and on the SWAT team in Twin Falls, Idaho.

When not traveling, Robinson splits time between San Diego and his Idaho home on the Snake River.


  1. ^ "Stanford Baseball History" (PDF). Stanford University. 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Versatility a key for Music's Scott Robinson (01-02 MVP)". 2 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2019.

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