Nov 2, 2016 12:31 AM
Last living player from Indians' 1948 title team at Game 6
The Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Wearing the same style Chief Wahoo cap he had in his playing days, Eddie Robinson was hoping to see the Indians win another World Series title.
Like any Cleveland fan, he's waited a long time.
"It's been so darn long," he said with more than a hint of Texas twang.
The last living member from Cleveland's 1948 World Series title team, Robinson attended Game 6 on Tuesday night as a guest of the Indians, who were trying to close out the Chicago Cubs at home and capture their first championship in 68 years.
Instead, the Cubs won 9-3 to set up a Game 7.
As he sat in a luxury suite before the first pitch, the 95-year-old Robinson — who made the trip from Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife, Bette — admitted some pregame nervousness for these Indians while he reminisced about his time in Cleveland.
Robinson was the first baseman on a team that featured five Hall of Famers, including Bob Feller and Larry Doby. Robinson drove in the Series-clinching run in the eighth inning of Game 6 off the Boston Braves' Warren Spahn, giving the Indians their most recent championship on Oct. 11, 1948.
Robinson laughed while recalling that team didn't celebrate "like they do today." After dressing and getting on the train, he and his teammates did have quite a ride back to Cleveland.
"That's when the party started," said Robinson, who batted .300 in that Series. "There was champagne dripping from the ceiling. And when we arrived here the next morning, they had a parade arranged, and from the train station we went to Euclid Avenue and every player got in a convertible and we went down Euclid and it was marvelous. It looked like everyone in Cleveland had turned out."
Robinson said he keeps a close eye on the Indians from afar, but the one-time Texas general manager said the Rangers are closest to his heart. He thought they'd be representing the AL in the World Series this year "but our pitching went a little sour."
Robinson, who went to watch the game in the suite along with Indians manager Terry Francona's dad, Tito, said the 2016 Indians don't remind him of the '48 club, which had to win a one-game playoff over the Boston Red Sox just to make the Series. Robinson caught the final out and still has the ball.
"No resemblance," he said. "We had great pitching like this team, but this team is comprised of a bunch of players, they're kind of no-name players. I went to see Cleveland play when they came to Texas this year and I told my wife, 'They have a good team but I've never heard of any of them except for (Mike) Napoli.' He was with Texas and I've been a Napoli fan for a long time. Good player. Good teammate."
Still remarkably fit and cogent at his advanced age, Robinson said the key to his longevity has been "a good wife." He said it would be difficult for him to see Game 6 from the suite, and was ready to move inside and watch it on TV.
Robinson said he stayed mostly in touch '48 teammates Bob Lemon, Al Rosen and Dale Mitchell when their careers ended. He said they tried to stay close, but the years pulled them apart.
Robinson's memory is amazingly strong. He was quick to point out that in '48, Lemon pitched 20 complete games.
"Can you believe that?" he said. "And if you needed a relief pitcher, they might have put Lemon in to relieve. It's so different now."
Robinson loves the game now, especially the home runs. He just wishes the fences were as short in his day as they are now.
Today's players have better perks than he and his teammates enjoyed, and the "biggest perk is the money." Robinson was asked if he could imagine the kind contracts pitchers like Feller or Lemon could have fetched today.
"I think about Eddie Robinson, what he could have got," he said with a chuckle.