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1st Round Draft Pick in 1975 // Has Catcher's Gear Flap Modification in Hall of Fame in Cooperstown ; "Robinson Rule" preventing sales of players for cash
It has been thirty-five years since the Goldpanners first took a chance on a high school senior by the name of Bruce Robinson - at a time when high schoolers on the club were very rare -- but time has not dimmed the lustre of his involvement with the ballclub. Not only did his career with the team include three championship seasons (four overall: 1972-73-74-75 - plus one game in 1993), but his legacy extends to the team through his sons, as well. Tommy was with the 2005 Goldpanners squad, but it was Scott who carried on the family tradition with an amazing revival of the “Robinson mystique.”
It has also, perhaps not coincidentally, been thirty-five years since the first Goldpanners’ NBC World Series title - a tournament they have won more than any other club over its 80 year history - but, again, time has not minimized the accomplishment that came from having finally reached the goal that had seemed barely out of reach since a second-place finish in 1962.
In 1972, Bruce came to a club relentlessly determined to exact revenge on arch-rival Anchorage for having dealt the club a national championship loss on a Glacier Pilots double with two outs in the 9th inning. The resolution which had been building for months during the off-season finally had an opportunity to play itself out on the field, and from the first game of that season until the third consecutive national championship won on the last game of the 1974 season, that drive produced the most brilliant three-year stretch ever seen in amateur baseball... and Bruce was a large part of that, averaging over .300 at the plate, with a season best of .346 in 1974.
“Robinson is a true-blue Goldpanner” wrote Lew Freedman in the 2000 paperback Diamonds in the Rough -- and he is right.
It was an amazing time to be a part not only of the organization, but also to be a part of what was happening in Alaska as well. After having conversed at length on this subject with Goldpanners GM Don Dennis, Freedman wrote, “Dennis considers the early 1970s to be his all-time favorite Goldpanner period. Not only because the Goldpanners were great. The Pilots were, too, and the rivalry was frantic, intense, and of such unbelievably high quality it transcended Alaska and had its final seasonal chapter played out each season in Wichita. Stunningly, the Alaska teams owned not only the 49th state, but the other forty-nine states. The Glacier Pilots materialized virtually out of the mists to win the national championship in 1969. In 1970, they were runnersup. In 1971, Anchorage won again. In 1972, the Goldpanners beat the Glacier Pilots for the title. In 1976, Fairbanks again topped Anchorage in the finale. If more seemed at stake on distant territory, emotions were sometimes wild in Alaska.
“It got vicious at times,” said Lowell Purcell. “With fistfights at Growden Park. We sent busloads of fans both ways.” Robinson, who played in his share of Goldpanner-Glacier Pilot confrontations, said it is tough to convey just how hard-fought they were. “That made the whole Alaska atmosphere,” said Robinson. “It was like the World Series.”
Plenty of mileage has gone down the road for Robinson over the years, with stints in the major league ranks, yet Robinson still savors the memory of his championships in Fairbanks. “They were the best years of my life,” said Robinson.” Quite a statement coming from a New York Yankee! Freeman continued, “So many years later, Robinson still loves and misses Alaska. His children, Scott, Kelly and Tommy are good ballplayers. Robinson is already lobbying Dennis to choose Scott for the Goldpanners in a couple of years. “I’d love for him to have that experience,” said Robinson. And if Scott is as good as the old man was, it doesn’t seem likely the Goldpanners will turn him away.” A very insightful observation from Lew, considering that Scott followed the tradition of his father in more ways than one, having been named MVP of the 2002 NBC World Series championship club, which, yet again, defeated the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in the title game!" (2007 Yearbook)
2001 Team Set
Fairbanks resident Bruce Robinson, a former Alaska Goldpanner, has been called up by the Oakland Athletics from the team's AAA minor league club in Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League.
Bruce Robinson - Player Profile
Bruce Robinson has just completed his sophomore year at Stanford University, yet as far as the Alaska Goldpanners are concerned, he is looked upon as a veteran performer.
Having been recruited by the Goldpanners directly out of high school, Robinson is now in his third year with the club, and the hope exists that this will be the summer he breaks loose and shows some of the unlimited potential that was predicted of him when he first came to the Panners in 1972.
Much of that potential was based on his ability as a catcher, but his career at the position has been hampered somewhat, first because he has not been given the chance to catch at Stanford, then through misfortune last summer with the Goldpanners.
As a senior at La Jolla High School in California, Robinson was selected as the catcher on the high school all-American team, then was picked on the fourth round of the free agent draft by the Chicago White Sox.
But he turned down the Sox offer, in favor of attending Stanford, only to be moved to the outfield to make room for another outstanding young catcher, Dave Baker, who is likewise the catcher for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots.
Robinson's first summer in Alaska was spent pretty much as an understudy to regular receiver Steve Swisher. Playing infrequently, he batted .220.
Last year however, Robinson stepped into the catching position on a regular basis at the outset of the season, only for him to break fingers on his right hand, not just once, but on two different occasions, which limited his playing time to a mere 25 games, during which he batted .294.
As a freshman at Stanford, playing primarily in the outfield, Robinson, whose brother Dave played briefly in the big leagues with the San Diego Padres in 1969, hit .261, and he improved on that slightly this spring, when he batted an overall .274.
In Pacific-8 conference activity however, he came on strong, and was named along with teammates Mark Lucich and Mike Williamson, to the Pac-8 all conference team, as the Cardinal barely missed dethroning powerful Southern California in the southern division standings. One of the top hitters in conference play, Robinson batted .367.
It could be a preview of what's to come this summer.
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