Palmer, Frank and Brooks Robinson saw lots of history and made some, too STAR - STUDDED TALK


July 11, 1993

The third baseman was an immovable object in the American League lineup. He played in his first All-Star Game in 1960, his last in 1974 and was a member of every All-Star team in between.

The outfielder was named to 12 All-Star teams and was the first player to hit All-Star home runs for both the National and American leagues.

The pitcher was picked to six All-Star squads, appeared in five games and was the American League starter in four of those years.

Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Jim Palmer won't be in either lineup when the 64th All-Star Game comes to Baltimore on Tuesday night. But memories of the great Orioles will be very much alive.

At the invitation of The Sun, the three perennial Orioles All-Stars met recently at the B&O warehouse to ask and answer questions about past All-Star Games and to look ahead to this year's edition at Camden Yards.

For roughly an hour, the distinguished panel sat around a small circular table, trading memories and barbs. They met with Sun reporter Mark Hyman.

The Sun: The three of you have played in All-Star Games in almost every city except Lancaster, Pa., and Baltimore. Any thoughts about what it would be like to play in one before the hometown faithful?

Jim Palmer: It'd be terrific, the best.

Frank Robinson: Exciting.

Brooks Robinson: It would be like the World Series. I envy Cal [Ripken], having a chance to play this year. You always thought about -- at least I did -- the All-Star Game coming to Baltimore.

JP: It would be an incentive to have a big first half, especially if I'm a veteran player and know how special the All-Star Game is. You'd want to be in it here, in a new ballpark, with the great fans. It is going to be a fabulous week.

The Sun: What's in store for the city, and what will the national exposure bring?

FR: It's a chance to show off this city, and show off this ballpark.

JP: I think it's great for the city. It's Baltimore's chance to showcase itself. I was in San Diego giving a speech during the All-Star Game last year. It was a big deal for them, and they don't even like baseball in San Diego. They love baseball here. It's a chance for people in Baltimore to show the world just how much they love baseball.

The Sun: What are your memories of your first All-Star Games?

FR: My first was 1956, in Washington. All I recall is that I was having a pretty good year and that I was excited to be there. I wanted to show everybody my newspaper clipping and say, "Hey, I belong in this game."

BR: It was 1960. The thing I remember most is being on an airplane, going to the game, with Ted Williams. Must have been his last year. Anyway, I was 23, I guess, and Ted was talking about hitting, about how the slider breaks 56.6 inches or something, and how Nellie Fox could be a better hitter if he stood off the plate a little. It was a great plane trip.

JP: 1970, and I was 24. I was just happy to be there and I didn't want to mess up and keep the team from winning. [Note: Palmer, the AL starting pitcher, threw three scoreless innings, striking out three]. I think what I remember most is the sight of Frank Howard, as big as he is, standing in the clubhouse in his underwear.

The Sun: You've all played in some memorable All-Star Games. In 1970, Pete Rose put the big hurt on Ray Fosse.

JP: Cheap shot. Had no reason to do it. Didn't have to. People have rationalized that hit, saying that's the style Pete played. But he didn't have to hit Fosse like he did.

FR: That's my feeling, too. It was unnecessary. He didn't have to do it that way. If I'd done that, they'd have been calling for me to be lynched. But because it was Pete, they brushed it off. He didn't have to zero in on Ray Fosse. Ended his career.

BR: I don't feel the way they do. To me, that's baseball. Rose was there, Fosse was there, and he got him. That's all.

The Sun: In 1971, Reggie Jackson launched a very long home run or a very short space shot.

FR: Now that was a fun game.

JP: Frank hit a home run off Dock Ellis in that game. Aaron hit one. Killebrew hit one. Clemente hit one off his front foot into the upper deck. Did Bench hit one?

FR: Yes he did, right-center.

JP: All monster shots. . . . Then Reggie's home run.

FR: Oh, my gosh.

The Sun: "Oh, my gosh" what?

FR: Awesome, awesome. He hit it so hard and so far, and the ball was going up when it hit the transformer. You heard the fans go "Awww," and the ball was back on the field.

JP: I was warming up to come into the game. I'd thrown a pitch, and I heard the bat and looked around -- there was silence. Everyone was watching the ball. You just don't see balls hit like that.

FR: I'd have loved to have seen that ball miss that transformer. Just to see how far that ball would go, because it was going up.

The Sun: The player who hit the shortest home run of that game was the MVP -- Frank Robinson.

FR: Hit it over the little right-field fence, about 340 feet.

JP: A cheap shot.

FR: It happened to pull us ahead, so I was MVP. It was strictly timing.

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