Warren G. `Sheriff' Robinson, 80, coach, scout for New York Mets

April 10, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Warren G. "Sheriff" Robinson, a former New York Mets first-base coach and scout who later became the Dorchester County treasurer, died of cancer Friday at his Cambridge home. He was 80.

He spent 35 years in professional baseball, including time as a minor-league catcher and manager, and scouted Baltimore Orioles home games for the 1969 "Miracle Mets" -- winners of the World Series that year over the Birds. Mr. Robinson earned a World Series ring for his contributions.

"He could read people and read players," said Dave Rosenfield, longtime general manager of the Norfolk Tides, a Mets farm team, and a friend for more than 50 years. "He was one of the nicest, warmest people I've ever met in baseball."

Born in Cambridge, Mr. Robinson played sandlot ball with friends and two older half-brothers, Merritt and Waldo Robinson. The boys' father, William Lincoln Grant Robinson, had twice run unsuccessfully for county sheriff, and the name stuck to his son.

Pop Kelchner, a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, signed him to a contract at age 16. The young Sheriff Robinson played a season -- his mother had to write a letter of permission for him to do so -- and he received his diploma from Cambridge High School in 1939, a year late.

As a rookie in the Mountain State League in Williamson, W.Va., he roomed with an eventual Hall of Famer, Stan Musial, in what was then Class D ball.

In a 1994 interview with The Sun's John Steadman, Mr. Robinson recalled making $70 a month. "You could eat a fine dinner for 50 cents," he said, also remembering "long bus rides over those up-and-down roads in West Virginia."

After Navy service in World War II, assigned to Guam on a floating dry dock, Mr. Robinson returned to the baseball diamond -- at first in the Cardinals system, then traded to the International League Orioles in 1948. Soon after, he became a minor-league manager.

He took two teams to league championships -- in 1954, with a Corning, N.Y., squad in the Red Sox organization, and a Yankee club in Amarillo that won the 1961 Texas League pennant.

Mr. Robinson was brought up to the majors by the Mets in 1964. He was a bullpen and first-base coach with the team until 1967, and again in 1972.

From 1968 to 1971 and from 1973 to 1977, he was a Mets special assignment coach and regularly scouted the Orioles.

Mr. Robinson prepared reports on the Baltimore squad as the pennant race heated up in midsummer of 1969.

"We left Cambridge at 3 in the afternoon and arrived at Memorial Stadium in time for batting practice," said his son, Robert G. Robinson of Chesapeake, Va. "We left after the seventh inning. It was interesting to watch a game with him. He was looking for talent -- how the guys were playing -- not the score."

He retired in 1977, and two years later was elected Dorchester County treasurer -- the local tax collector. He held the post for three terms, until 1991.

"He was a good person around people. He understood them," said Anne North, Dorchester's assistant treasurer. "If they were having trouble paying, he gave them as much time as he could under the law."

Mr. Robinson's wife of more than 52 years, Margaret "Sweetie" Warren, died in 1994.

Services were held yesterday at Zion United Methodist Church in Cambridge, where Mr. Robinson was a member and former trustee and treasurer.

In addition to his son, he is survived by two daughters, Ann Robinson Baird of Centreville and Susan W. Robinson of Cambridge; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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