Former Buc Bill Robinson Found Dead Sunday

Bill Robinson, a corner infielder and outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirate teams of the 1970s, was found dead in his hotel room Sunday. Robinson, 64, had been serving as a minor-league instructor for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Robinson, who also played with the Braves, Yankees and Phillies in his 16-year major-league career, was a regular on the 1979 team that won the World Series.
Randy Linville took a look at Robinson’s career in part eight of the “Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee” series, a number of posts put together with the idea of examining the notion that “ill-conceived trades made to acquire the players on the 1979 roster doomed the team to flounder in mediocrity in the mid-1980s.”
I’ll let Randy do the talking here:

Robinson was originally signed by the Milwaukee Braves. He was traded to the Yankees with Chi Chi Olivo (brother of former Pirate reliever Diomedes Olivo) for the popular Clete Boyer and was tabbed to be Mickey Mantles successor. Like many other players given that weight to carry around (Bobby Murcer and Roy White come to mind), Robinson had a very good career but failed to live up to the billing. He played terribly for the Yankees, seeing action in 1967, 1968 and 1969, hitting just .206 in over 900 at bats.
Having seen enough, the Yanks traded him to the ChiSox for Barry Moore after 1970. Moore never appeared for the Yankees and Robinson never made it to the Show for the South Siders. Following 1971, Robinson went to the Phillies for a minor leaguer.
After not appearing in the bigs in 1970 or 1971, Robinson made it back in 1972, but hit just .239. Finally as a 30 year old in 1973, Robinson busted out with 25 homers and a .288 BA for Philadelphia. After another lackluster season in 1974 (.236 BA and five homers in 280 at bats), Robinson was dealt to Pittsburgh.
Ive read (and cant recall where), that Ken Macha was set to make the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1975, but the acquisition of Robinson blocked his way. Macha was a third baseman by trade and wouldve been Richie Hebners back up. Robinson had played 14 games at third in 1974 for Philadelphia and was supposedly going to help fill the back up role in Pittsburgh. I doubt that this was really the case. Robinson wasnt a good third baseman (less than .900 fielding average for his career) and another young third baseman (Art Howe) did make the club out of Florida.
Robinson did, however, play third occasionally while with the Pirates. But in 1975, all of his appearances were in the OF. Robinson hit pretty well (.280) with decent power (6 homers in 200 ABs) in 1975. However, he would immediately begin to shine the following year. With Stargell, Parker and Oliver all missing some time, Robinson filled in beautifully, cracking 21 homers and hitting .303 in less than 400 ABs. He ripped three taters in a 15 inning game against San Diego on 6/5/76. He would continue that level of production through 1979 as he averaged 20 homers and 81 RBI in that span.
At age 36, Robinson hit 24 homers and drove in 75 for the 1979 World Champs. His post-season accomplishments were more modest (no hits in 3 at bats in the NLCS and five hits in 19 tries in the World Series). But, he was on base when Stargell stroked what proved to be the game winning homer in Game 7.

Robinson left behind a wife, Mary Alice, and two children.

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6 Responses to “Former Buc Bill Robinson Found Dead Sunday”

  1. Tony Ferrante Says:

    My lasting memory of Bill was him holding up the #1 sign after he and Willie rounded the bases when Willie blasted that homer in Game 7 in ’79….

  2. R Perez Says:

    I was the unfortunate one to be part of the group to find Bill Robinson at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. Sad on a note as I knew him , we met in 1977 at Dodger Stadium and I was just a kid then, who would have known I would help find him watching TV with the group, but passed away, eyes shut, peaceful, as we thought he was sleeping. Who would have thought some many years later I would assist in finding his exiting this world, May god bless him, Bill he was a gracious man and left us with many good memories. He made a differece for all of us…

  3. bob and pat spence Says:

    we loved this guy-great teammate–better man-we played together in triple A along time ago–God bless Mary and family

  4. bob and pat spence Says:

    we loved this guy-great teammate–better man-we played together in triple A along time ago–God bless Mary and family

  5. Nance Says:

    It is with shock that I just learned that Bill Robinson passed away! I am a fan of his and a Pittsburgher, yet I hadn’t heard of his passing! I loved those glory years of the Pirates, and Bill Robinson was my favorite player. During the one series, he spoke very openly in the media about his love of Christ, and I reall admired him for that. I met him one day at a department store where he was doing some promotion. I didn’t have the nerve to speak to him, so I wrote a note to him and told him that I had really been pleased to hear his comments about the Lord. He accepted the note, but I didn’t wait around to get a response. I’m sad to know he’s gone, but he’s definitely in a better place, and I look forward to seeing him again someday. 🙂 Nance

  6. Tom Gealy Says:

    I am still sad to this day….I have fond memories of Bill playing ball, I saw him when the Pirates came to town in Los Angeles.. My father went to high school with Bill, and when we would go to the games he would call out his nickname, which was wheezer….and he would come over and talk with my dad, and then shake our hands and ask me how little league was going….I will always treasure that…..Thanks Bill….we will miss you…..
    Tom Gealy


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