The Obit For Bill Robinson

Bill Robinson, who had ties to Mets and Yanks, dies


July 30, 2007

LAS VEGAS -- Bill Robinson, an outfielder who played on Pittsburgh's 1979 World Series championship team and had ties to the Yankees and Mets, died yesterday. He was 64.

Robinson, a former Yankees outfielder and Mets hitting instructor, was in Las Vegas to visit the Dodgers' minor-league team and was supposed to meet director of player development De Jon Watson to drive to the ballpark. But Robinson failed to show up at the appointed time and was found dead in his hotel room, Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said. The official cause of death was pending, he said.

To Yankees fans, Robinson will best be remembered for his part in the Clete Boyer trade. Boyer, a terrific defensive third baseman who died June 4 at 70, was dealt by the Yankees to the Braves in November 1966 for the highly touted Robinson, who batted .196, .240 and .171 and never lived up to expectations in three seasons for the Yankees.

"I was supposed to be a black Mickey Mantle," he told Newsday's Steve Marcus in 1986. "I made the mistake of hitting a home run in my second game."

Robinson, who also saw action at third base and first base, played in the majors from 1966-83 and had 1,127 hits, 166 homers and 641 RBIs for the Braves, Yankees, Phillies and Pirates. He hit .304 with 26 homers and 104 RBIs for the 1977 Pirates.

Mets fans will best remember Robinson as the team's hitting instructor from 1984-89. "On behalf of the entire Mets organization, we send our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to Bill's wife, Mary Alice, and the Robinson family," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. "As hitting coach, he played an .integral role in the 1986 Mets' world championship. More importantly, he was a devoted family man, a consummate professional and one of the classiest men in our sport."

Robinson also served as a minor-league hitting coach for the Yankees and was a minor- league coach and manager in Philadelphia's farm system. He managed in the Venezuelan League and was an analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" in 1990-91. Most recently, he was the Dodgers' minor-league hitting coordinator. "Bill was a wonderful family man and a great baseball player, coach, manager and friend to .everyone he met," Dodgers .general manager Ned Colletti said. " ... Everyone he came into contact with was better for having known him."

Robinson is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. Services were pending.