Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson!

From Jackie to Frank to Brooks, the Robinson name is etched in baseball’s history like no other.  But the Robinson that conjures up the fondest personal memories is boyhood friend, Ronn Robinson.

Author Gaylon White was 17 when he interviewed Dean Chance for this story.

Author Gaylon White was 17 when he interviewed Dean Chance for this story.

A first-rate trumpet player and even better swimmer, Ronn rescued me from an ocean rip-tide when I was a teenager. He was my “wheels” in April 1963, taking me to the Los Angeles Angels spring training camp at Palm Springs, California so I could interview a promising young pitcher named Dean Chance for my hometown newspaper, the El Monte Herald. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower showed up the same day we did, Ronn getting close enough with his Instamatic camera for a wonderful shot of Ike’s famous smile.

Chance went on to win 13 games for the Angels in 1963 and 20 more in 1964 to earn the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the majors.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower at spring training game in Palm Springs, California, in April 1963. (Photo by Ronn Robinson)

President Dwight D. Eisenhower at spring training game in Palm Springs, California, in April 1963. (Photo by Ronn Robinson

 

 

My friendship with Ronn has its roots in the early 1950s when our fathers took us to Pacific Coast League baseball games between the Angels and Hollywood Stars. I was an Angel fan – just like my older brother, Don, and father, Rev. Hooper W. White. Ronn and his father, Rev. Eugene Robinson, rooted for the Stars. En route to a Stars-Angels game at Gilmore Field in Hollywood, Dad asked Gene: “How can you be a Christian and pull against the Angels?”

The Angels-Stars rivalry is history but, fortunately, the friendship between the two families continues.  Ronn’s daughter, Rochelle, chronicles this and more in a wonderful story on The Bilko Athletic Club, for the website, LaLaScoop. Check it out:

http://lalascoop.com/2014/06/30/the-bilko-athletic-club-by-gaylon-h-white-brings-a-rich-history-of-la-to-life-through-baseball/

:  Ronn Robinson and his daughter, Rochelle, shown here on a family vacation in Italy. (Photo courtesy of Ronn Robinson)

Ronn Robinson and his daughter, Rochelle, shown here on a family vacation in Italy. (Photo courtesy of Ronn Robinson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bilko Athletic Club is a book published by Rowman & Littlefield about the 1956 Los Angeles Angels, a team of castoffs and kids built around a bulky, beer-loving basher of home runs named Steve Bilko. The book features a delightful foreword by John Schulian, former sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and Philadelphia Daily News and longtime contributor to Sports Illustrated and GQ. The book can now be ordered by clicking on any of the website links below:

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