By John Delcos
Photo Credit: Getty Images
The New York Mets were roasted during their first year at Citi Field because the new stadium showed more a Brooklyn Dodgers feel than that of the Mets.
That never would have happened had Buck Showalter been running the show. Showalter, who is cut from the original old school cloth, gets it when honoring the game’s past.
Frank Robinson was in Orioles’ camp Monday and Showalter casually asked 19-year-old prospect Josh Hart if he knew about the Hall of Famer, a member of the 500-homer club and one of the three greatest players in club history along with Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken.
Incidentally, Robinson was also the first African-American manager in major league history, and as a black man, you would think that’s something Hart would want to know.
When Hart said he didn’t know, Showalter assigned the rookie to write a one-page report on Robinson. Kind of like ``I will not talk in class,’’ 100 times on the blackboard.
Hart not knowing Robinson ranks just below on the ignorance scale of LeBron James – who prides himself as a basketball historian – leaving Bill Russell off his NBA Mt. Rushmore.
The Robinson-Hart reminds me of something that happened in spring training several years ago, and also involved Robinson.
Then Mets-GM Omar Minaya asked former prospect Lastings Milledge to follow him across the field to the Washington dugout to introduce him to then-Nationals manager Robinson.
Milledge could not have been less interested and showed Robinson zero respect. And, in doing so showed the same amount to Minaya.
It was a precursor of things to come for Milledge, who was chastised by manager Willie Randolph for not honoring the game’s unspoken traditions, and later by his teammates, who posted a sign on his locker saying, ``Know your place, Rook. Signed, your teammates.’’
Milledge never did get it and his career fell into ``what might have been,’’ status. Here’s hoping Hart gets the message.
***John Delcos has covered Major League Baseball for over 20 years, including the Mets and Yankees since 1998. He is a Hall of Fame voter and owns and operates a Mets website, New York Mets Report.com