Jim Palmer reflects on the life of his former teammate Frank Robinson

The two Orioles shared the highest of highs together during their time in Baltimore.

Bob Haynie
February 08, 2019 - 5:18 pm

(Photo Credit: AP)

By: Kyle J. Andrews

Just one day after Orioles great Frank Robinson died at the age of 83, his former teammate Jim Palmer spoke in vivid terms of his work ethic as a manager and as a trailblazer.

Before Robinson became the first African-American manager, he had to pay his dues down in Winter Ball. Palmer can recall a time when he played for Robinson, not much longer after he had been his teammate. Robinson also coached a number of other American League superstars.

 “He was a marvelous guy,” Palmer said of his former Orioles teammate and fellow Hall of Famer on 105.7's Vinny and Haynie. “I think the one thing – if you read most of the headlines today – first African-American manager. He did his due diligence. He went to Puerto Rico and managed and it wasn’t like some guy just because ‘You know what? I’m a great player, I happen to be black or African-American, I think I should manage.’ No.

“He went down, I played for him one year, Reggie Jackson played on one of those teams, Don Baylor played on one of those ball clubs. Not only did he help us win games and change baseball in Baltimore, but just think of the impact he had – not only on the players that he had a chance to interact with, but if you’re an African-American player, and you came up and saw what Frank Robinson was able to do, along with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, you’re going ‘Boy, maybe I’ll choose baseball’ and what a career he had.”

After Robinson passed away from bone cancer on Thursday, Palmer was able to step back and appreciate the times that he and their teammates had together.

“When somebody passes away, it just takes the time and something we should all do where you really reflect on not only playing for the Orioles – all of the great things that I had a chance to be with and all the players that I chance to see play. What a pleasure to sit on the bench and watch Brooks [Robinson] and watch Boog [Powell] and watch Frank and [Don] Buford and [Paul] Blair and all of these guys. It’s really what baseball is all about.”

Palmer and Robinson would team up to win two championships together in the 1966 and 1970 seasons. Their link doesn’t just stop there either. Both were All-Stars in 1970 together, have their nos. 20 and 22 retired, and both have bronze statues in the bullpen picnic area of Camden Yards, commemorating their induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleJAndrews_