Robinson, Brady tied? C'mon now

September 28, 1996|By John Eisenberg | John Eisenberg,SUN STAFF

TORONTO -- Frank Robinson picked up the phone in his living room in Southern California, heard a reporter from Baltimore on the other end of the line and started shouting even before a question was asked.

"He just tied the record, for crying out loud. He didn't break it yet!" Robinson said.

Then he laughed.

It happened last night, a few minutes after the Orioles' Brady Anderson hit his 49th home run of 1996 in the third inning at SkyDome to tie Robinson's 30-year-old club record for homers in a season.

Frank and Brady, now joined at the hip in history. One a Hall of Fame slugger with 586 career homers, the other a leadoff hitter.

They're now co-owners of one of the Orioles' most prized records.

Unless, of course, Anderson goes for No. 50 in the next two days.

"And he might do it, he just might," Robinson said. "He's hit two in two nights now, and he tends to hit them in bunches. He looks like he might be on one of those rolls."

Robinson knew because he has been watching the games on his satellite dish.

"I didn't think anyone would call until the record was broken," he said.

And if it does get broken in the next two days?

"The heck with him!" Robinson shouted.

Then he laughed.

"Seriously, I have no bad feelings," he said. "I broke Jim Gentile's record. Records are made to be broken. You wish they could stand forever; I'm not going to lie to you. But you know there's always the possibility that someone was going to hit more homers."

Of course, no one thought until recently that that person might be Anderson.

"They would have made you take a saliva test if you had suggested that before this season," Robinson said. "That's why I don't mind seeing Brady doing it. It's not like people were saying, 'It's only a matter of time until he does it.' No one was saying that about him."

That's for sure; Anderson had never hit more than 21 homers in a season before 1996.

"It's one of those 'Are you kidding me?' deals," Robinson said. "But my hat is off to him. I'm happy for him, really happy for him."

Robinson, of course, was managing the Orioles when Anderson joined the club in 1988 after coming over from the Red Sox in the Mike Boddicker trade.

And Robinson also was Anderson's manager when Anderson floundered in the big leagues from 1988 to 1991, hitting .240 with a grand total of 10 home runs.

That's right, Anderson hit 10 home runs in his first four seasons with the Orioles.

He hit more than that in April this year.

"The thing is, we're seeing a much different Brady Anderson than we saw back in those days," Robinson said. "He's more mature, and he's a lot bigger and stronger. It's been, what, eight years now since he joined the club? That's a lot of time for a guy to grow and develop."

And grow some more. And develop some more.

It was mentioned to Robinson that Orioles manager Davey Johnson had singled out Anderson for his consistency the other night.

"Probably the most consistent guy on the club this year," Johnson said.

Quite an accomplishment for a player who, until this year, was given to wild swings of highs and lows, white-hot streaks followed by horrific, month-long slumps.

"Not anymore," Robinson said. "He has gotten to the point where he has very little [extra] movement in his swing, so there isn't much that can go wrong. His stance has changed over the years. He used to have that high leg kick and out he would come. But he has really pared it down. His mechanics are really sound.

"The only thing I wish I could change is these [TV] announcers who keep saying we tried to turn him into a slap hitter. We didn't ask him to do that. It was just that he lunged at a lot of balls so we tried to give him to move back [in the box] and hit to left."

"I'm going to have to call him now," Anderson said, smiling.

"To rub it in?" someone asked.

"That's right," he said, smiling, "to rub it in."

Pub Date: 9/28/96

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