Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#23 - Craig Robinson

This post is an example of the second type of three that are represented by two cards. 1974 was the first year that Topps issued the Traded sub-set. They would try it again in '76 and then make it a full-time set beginning in '81, at least for a while. The Traded set had its own checklist and was numbered with the same designation as the player's regular card, but with a "T" added to the number. This post has the first Traded card.

Craig Robinson is in an away uniform at Shea, apparently during one of the colder months, though since Craig attended Wake Forest, he may have been spoiled by those warmer temperatures. Craig returned to Philadelphia in late July and took over shortstop the rest of the way following an injury to Larry Bowa. He was sure no Bowa, either offensively or defensively - ten errors in 42 games - and though he didn't know it at the time, '73 would be Craig's second busiest MLB season. His year in Triple A prior to his call-up was pretty good though, and for the second season in a row, Craig would get league all-star honors. And for a rookie shortstop at the time, his numbers weren't that bad. Regarding the card, I like the casually dropped mitt in the background.

Craig Robinson was drafted by Philadelphia out of Wake Forest in 1970. That was his senior year at that school and while there Craig was twice named All-ACC at shortstop and his senior year hit .363 while leading his team in just about every offensive category. He kicked things off that year in Double A and had a tough time offensively, though he did well in the field. He then began a nearly three year residency at Eugene in Triple A and while there posted some good offense and improved defense. In '72 he got his first short look up top. After the '73 season, per the included card, Craig went to Atlanta.

With Atlanta, Robinson moved into the shorting shortstop position made available when incumbent middle infielders Davey Johnson and Mart Perez slid over to first and second base, respectively. While Craig's offense was nothing special - .230 with 29 RBI's - it was not abnormally bad for shortstops in his era. But his defense was not up to snuff and the following year he lost the starting gig to Larvell Blanks, who did have a pretty good stick. After not playing too much Craig went to San Francisco in a mid-season deal for Ed Goodson and then didn't play too much the rest of the way for the Giants. '76 then went pretty much the same way in reverse - though he did hit better - when he returned to Atlanta in the Willie Montanez for Darrel Evans trade. He was released during spring training in '78, hooked up with San Diego, and after a partial season at Hawaii, the Padres' Triple A club, he was done. Craig finished with a .219 MLB average and hit .245 in the minors.

After playing Robinson did some coaching and in '85 managed in the Atlanta chain, going 28-40 in that season. He then moved to a different business, casinos, and in '94 hooked up with The Horseshoe, a hotel/casino in Bossier City, Louisiana, where he is currently the Director of VIP Acquisitions.

The Traded card features the player's name in the top pennant and the full name of the team in the bottom one. The player is of course air-brushed into his new uniform, almost always, if not exclusively so, minus the logo on the cap. Air-brushed photos rarely went well but this one is harmless enough. Robinson's got the windbreaker under the sirt thing going. Both photos show that he was a big fan of Ray-Bans.

Robinson's fielding abilities are touted on the back of his card and were clearly his ticket to the major leagues. The cartoon is nice; that sentiment always made me think the players were appreciative of being in the game.

The back of the Traded card was made up to resemble a newspaper headline of a fictional paper, "Baseball News." The card number is in the upper left, the traded date in the byline, and a colloquial headline is in bold caps. In this era, the nickname "Robby" was most often applied to Frank Robinson but I do not think Craig and Frank were ever mistaken for each other. The body of the card lists the details of the deal and this card was particularly predictive as Robinson did get a bunch more playing time with his new team if only for one season.

Dick Allen makes another appearance in the separation exercise. He was my favorite player, so maybe it is intentional:

1. Robinson and Greg Luzinski (or Larry Bowa, etc.) '73 Phillies;
2. Luzinski and Dick Allen '75-'76 Phillies;
3. Allen and Cy Acosta '73 White Sox.

Plus the colors are all the same!

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