Robinson had share of dealing with DeWitt Sr. THE SALE OF THE ORIOLES

August 03, 1993|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Staff Writer

The DeWitt name may be new to most Orioles, but at least one top team official -- assistant general manager Frank Robinson -- has had some experience with the family. It was not positive.

Mr. Robinson played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1956 to 1965. Bill DeWitt Sr. owned the Reds from 1961 to 1966. His son, Bill DeWitt Jr., will be the Orioles' new vice chairman for baseball if the sale is approved.

Mr. Robinson repeatedly declined to comment on anything related to the sale last night, but in his autobiographical book on racism in baseball, "Extra Innings," Mr. Robinson devotes b bTC chapter to his rocky relations with the elder DeWitt -- a man he derisively refers to as "Bill CheapWitt."

"To Bill DeWitt, players were just chattel," Mr. Robinson wrote, after an account of his arrest on a minor handgun violation in 1961. Mr. DeWitt declined to bail Mr. Robinson out of jail that night, telling a sportswriter that "he'd see me in the morning," according to Mr. Robinson.

Much of the animosity between the men seemed to center on contract negotiations. For example, Mr. Robinson said he expected to get a substantial raise after the 1961 season, when he batted .323, hit 37 home runs and was named National League Most Valuable Player.

Mr. Robinson, who was then making $30,000, said Mr. DeWitt offered him a $2,500 raise. Mr. Robinson asked for $20,000 more.

"You would have thought I had lifted his wallet. It took me five strenuous, demeaning negotiating sessions with Bill CheapWitt before I managed to get a raise of $12,500," Mr. Robinson wrote.

Mr. DeWitt accused him of being a troublemaker and failing to hustle, Mr. Robinson wrote. By the time he was traded, Mr. Robinson said, "I'd had enough of Bill DeWitt."

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