At the invitation of the Indians, Robinson flew from his Texas home on Monday with his wife Bette, MLB.com reports
Robinson's isn't a famous name in Cleveland sports — at least nowhere near as famous as Bob Feller or Lou Boudreau or Larry Doby, all members of the '48 team as well.
But he's alive! Seeing as the Indians have been so eager to honor players like Kenny Lofton and Carlos Baerga in the current World Series — pitcher Dennis Martinez, also a face from the 90s, will throw out the first pitch in Game 6 — it seemed odd that Robinson, the last-surviving Indians champion, would be neglected.
Joe Posnanski, writing on his personal blog, offered a few reasons
for the team's hesitancy:
Back in the late 1940s, Major League Baseball was unsteadily ushering in an era of black athletes. Jackie Robinson, famously, broke the baseball color line in 1947. The Indians' Larry Doby also played in 1947. He was for the American League what Robinson was for the National League.
Posnanski mentions two anecdotes, secondhand from Lou Boudreau, "and confirmed by various others," concerning Eddie Robinson and Doby. In the first, Robinson was one of only two players in the Indians clubhouse who refused to shake Doby's hand when Doby was being introduced to the team. In the second, Robinson — the starting first basemen — allegedly refused to lend Doby his first-basemen's mitt so Doby could take some ground balls. In one version of that story, Robinson declined on account of Doby's race, though Robinson later said he was merely protective of his position, and was resentful that Doby, trained at second base, was edging in.
Posnanski gives Robinson the benefit of the doubt, and argues — like writer George Echlin did
— that the Indians should indeed bring him back for this historic Fall Classic.
"We don’t know what Eddie Robinson had in his heart all those years ago. And, truth is, we can’t know, not really," Posnanski writes. "There will be some who will say he should not be honored. There will be some who will say he should. And there will be some who say it was wrong to even bring any of this up, it happened so long ago, what difference does it make? Well, it’s history. Eddie Robinson is 96 years old, [sic] and like all of us he connects to the past in both good ways and bad."
If nothing else, maybe he'll bring some good luck with him. Robinson knocked in the series-clinching run in the eighth inning of Game 6 against the Boston Braves back in '48.
Ninety-five-year-old Eddie Robinson, the last surviving member of the Cleveland Indians team that won the World Series in 1948, will be watching Game six live from a suite at Progressive Field.