- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
My sophomore year in college at Yale, in 1974, I was I trying to think of a really good Halloween costume. It occurred to me that wearing Brooks Robinson's uniform would be a great thing to do. I picked Robinson because he was my favorite. I thought he was cool, terrific. I got some nice engraved Yale stationery and wrote to him: "Dear Mr. Robinson, If your uniform isn't doing anything near the end of October, would you consider letting me borrow it for Halloween? I promise I'll take really good care of it and send it right back."
I received a letter from him, in his handwriting, a week or two later, saying that he thought it was a great idea but the uniform didn't belong to him, it belonged to the Orioles, and I should write to vice-president for business affairs Jack Dunn and tell him Brooks said it was O.K. That letter—I don't know what it would be worth now on the collectors' market. I showed it to a friend, and he said, "Wow! That's like getting a letter from God!"
I wrote the letter to the Orioles, to Dunn, and then I received this package with Robinson's home uniform, and the cap, the socks, the stirrups. You could tell it was real because there was a button missing and the leg was worn from sliding. I had it for about a week before Halloween, and every night after dinner I would lay it out on my bed and people would come over and just look at it. I was on cloud nine. I didn't actually put it on until Halloween, and it was a thrill.
I sent it back, and a couple of years later I went to photo night at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and brought along a picture taken of me in the uniform, and asked Robinson to sign it. Maybe someday I'll be the answer to a trivia question: "Who's the only other person to wear number 5 for the Orioles?"
Weiss, 63, is the statistician for the five minor leagues west of the Rockies. He works out of his house in San Mateo, Calif .
I learned at a very young age, growing up in Chicago, that I was no athlete. If I wanted to have anything to do with baseball, it certainly wouldn't be on the field. I was very much interested in baseball records and players' records—not just watching the game, but the statistics of the game. Statistics just seemed like a natural for me, and it's what I decided I wanted to do in life.
As a kid, I used to hang around the American League office in Chicago on Saturday afternoons and go through the library of old record books and look up players' careers and that sort of thing. I was always more interested in minor league players than in major league players, because you could easily find the backgrounds of the major league players in Who's Who in Baseball and The Sporting News, but with the minor league players you had to go back and pick them out year by year, going through the old baseball guides.
After World War II, when I was working in Chicago at a lot of odd jobs, the National Association, which ran the minor leagues and was located in Columbus, Ohio, sponsored a seminar for front-office personnel in the game, and also for hopefuls—because there was a burgeoning number of minor leagues employing young men who had never had any contact with the business rules of baseball.
At the seminar I struck up an acquaintance with another aspirant, Jim Burris, who later became president of the American Association. Jimmy and I were standing on the street corner in Columbus waiting for a bus, and a man not much older than ourselves—I was 22 at the time—came along and asked, "Is this where you get the bus to go to 696 East Broad Street?" Well, that was the National Association address. We said yes and introduced ourselves, and this fellow turned out to be from Texas. His name was Howard Green and he was president of the Class D Longhorn League, which he had single-handedly organized the previous year. He was also half owner of the Abilene Blue Sox in the West Texas-New Mexico League. So we got to talking, and before I got off the bus I had a job.