August 6, 2011

A letter from Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson to our son, Randy Barning

Click on images to enlarge

When our eight-year old son Randy made an unassisted triple play in a T-ball game in May 1981, I was able to get his photo and a write up on the remarkable play in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" segment. At that point, Brooks had never heard of the Barnings (see August 3 post in this blog). We know that he had seen the item on Randy in SI because he sent him a note of congratulations. We were overwhelmed and a few years later Vivian and I thanked the Hall of Famer in person.

Baseball fans will remember that third-baseman Robinson was a right-handed thrower. All third basemen are. Few would know that he wrote with his left hand, which we saw him do while signing at card shows.

In the Faces in the Crowd section included here, note that along with Randy, among the others featured was a high school athlete from Alabama, Vincent Jackson. You may know of Vincent as Bo Jackson.


Anonymous said...

How canny of Randy to take his time and do the triple play that way. He must have been well coached (you, Frank?), because he knew that none of the runners knew to go back after a pop-up is caught and also knew that in most T-ball leagues, the defensive basemen can't catch too well ... lol. Smart boy!

Terrific of Brooks to write such a complimentary letter to an eight year old kid. He's a class act all the way.


Frank Barning said...

To Jim Ayres, in reply:

Thanks Jim. You really understand. Not just the game, but how eight year olds play, their skill level.

Randy was playing the pitchers mound position. A little pop up came down somewhere near between his position and third base. The kids on the bases were off and running. Randy grabbed the pop up, ran directly (instinctively, amazing for someone his age), toward third base, stepped on the bag, whirled to look at first, saw the runner in no man's land, cocked his arm and his coached yelled, "Take it yourself." So across the diamond he raced and Randy has his unassisted triple play.

That was 30 years ago. On its anniversary, May 18, he emailed me with the reminder. His childhood hero was Reggie (Kirby Puckett, too), and May 18 is Reggie Jackson's birthday. A few years ago, I think when he moved to Texas from San Diego, Randy gave his coach the ball. I keep it next to my computer.

In addition to Brooks Robinson, Randy received a letter from the president of the Hall of Fame, Ed Stack, who lived in the town where the game was played, Sea Cliff just down the road from our home in Glen Cove, NY. Glen Cove is where Roy Campanella had his accident, but you know this.

Your sense of the game, Jim, illustrates your passion.

Russ Mulroy said...

Also in "Faces in the Crowd" is a guy named Vincent Jackson, who later went by the name of "Bo".