Feb. 5, 2010
BERKELEY - Earl Robinson, a two-sport star for California in the 1950s who played both basketball and baseball for the Golden Bears, will be inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor at a ceremony during the Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament in March.
The Hall of Honor recognizes a former player or coach from each conference school who has made significant contributions to the tradition and heritage of the Pac-10. In addition to Robinson, the other inductees are: Mike Bibby (Arizona), Jeremy Veal (Arizona State), Kenya Wilkins (Oregon), Dave Gambee (Oregon State), John Arrillaga (Stanford), Reggie Miller (UCLA), John Block (USC), Eldridge Recasner (Washington) and Paul Lindemann (Washington State).
A 6-1 guard on the hardwood, Robinson played under Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell and helped Cal to conference titles in 1956, '57 and '58, earning a spot on the All-Coast team twice and the All-Pacific Coast Conference squad three times. The last two teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament - Cal's first trips in more than a decade - and reached the West Regional final. The '58 team nearly advanced the Final Four, only to lose to an Elgin Baylor-led Seattle team in overtime.
Robinson was voted Cal's Most Inspirational Player as a senior in 1958 when he also served as team captain. He had his best statistical season during his junior campaign when he contributed 12.1 ppg, and he finished his career with 882 points, which ranked among the school's all-time top five.
Robinson, whose college roommate was Golden Bear legend Joe Kapp, was also a standout on the baseball diamond, where he earned All-America honors as a shortstop. During Cal's run to the 1957 NCAA championship, he paced the Bears with a .352 batting average. Because of his relationship with Kapp - the Bears' quarterback - Robinson was also a Cal yell leader during the 1957 football season.
Robinson signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the spring of 1958 when the National League organization first moved to the West Coast. In an era before sports agents, Robinson relied on the services of Cal law professor Adrian Kragen to negotiate a better deal with the Dodgers, and his $75,000 signing bonus was a record sum for a black baseball prospect at the time. Robinson made his Major League debut as a rookie third baseman in 1958, then was traded to the Baltimore Orioles before the 1961 season, where he converted to the outfield. He remained with the organization through 1964 and finished his career with a .268 batting average.
Robinson returned to his alma mater as an assistant basketball coach in 1963 and stayed at Cal for three seasons. Then in 1966, Robinson was named head coach at Oakland's Merritt College, the first African-American head basketball coach in the California junior college system. He later moved to Laney College to teach speech classes and was credited with helping Rickey Henderson craft his well-received speech for the baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies this past summer. In addition, he also worked with the Oakland A's in the 1980s and spent time as an English teacher at Oakland's Castlemont High School.
Robinson will become the ninth Golden Bear enshrined n the Hall of Honor, following coaches Pete Newell and Nibs Price and players Kevin Johnson, Darrall Imhoff, Jason Kidd, Andy Wolfe, Russ Critchfield and Charles Johnson.
For more information on the entire 2010 class, click here.