Today is William “Smokey” Robinson’s 76th birthday. For me, he is America’s greatest singer/songwriter and he has filled me with “More love and more joy
Than age or time could ever destroy.”
People say I love baseball and “People say I’m the life of the party, Because I tell a joke or two,” but many people aren’t aware of the pleasure that I get from rhythm and blues, blues, and what used to be called “soul” music. So frequently as I have listened to the music, I gazed at the speakers and said, “You’ve really got a hold on me.”
And while others may try to convince me there is an alternative to the exemplar in the field, I am loyal to Smokey. “‘I’m sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter, Like birds of a feather we stick together, I’m tellin’ you from the start I can’t be torn apart from my guy.”
Nine to Know: MLBers nicknamed “Smokey*”
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee as a Manager in 1983, was the great Walter Alston. Smokey won four World Series rings with the Dodgers including the franchise’s only one in Brooklyn. John Flynn Dreyspool wrote about Alston in Sports Illustrated in 1955: “When the old man wasn’t there to play catch with me, I was bouncing the ball around on the barn door. That’s how I got my nickname, ‘Smokey,’ ‘cause I used to have a real fast fireball.”
In 23 years of managing the Dodgers, he won 90+ games 10 different seasons and only had four losing seasons.
When Alston was first hired in the fall of 1953 by the Brooklyn Dodgers, he signed a one-year contract. It was the first of 23 one-year contracts he signed.
Alston is in another unique group: Alston’s entire MLB career consisted of one at bat for the Cardinals against the Cubs on September 27, 1936. Alston played in that game, briefly at first base.
Charlie Maxwell was more frequently called “Paw Paw” by Tigers fans but he was also a “Smokey.” An outstanding outfielder, Maxwell played 15 seasons with the Red Sox (1950–54), Orioles (1955), Detroit Tigers (1955–62), and White Sox (1962–64).
When I first became aware of “Sunday Charlie,” I heard of his role as a Yankee killer in part because of his performance on May 3, 1959 when he hit four home runs in four successive official at-bats in a Sunday double-header against the New York Yankees at Briggs Stadium. Of the 148 homers he hit in his career, 29 were against the Yanks, the most of any opponent.
The Tigers fan favorite was born in Lawton, Michigan and two years after he was married in 1952, he built a home for him and his wife just 12 miles away in Paw Paw.
Maxwell was an All-Star in 1956 and 1957.
Other players nicknamed “Smokey”
Smokey Robinson has an enormous and brilliant discography
Here are nine greats:
- “Going to a Go-Go”
- “Ooo Baby Baby”
- “More Love”
- “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”
- “Tracks of My Tears”
- “I Second That Emotion”
- “The Tears of a Clown”
- “Mickey’s Monkey”
Here are nine more greats that Smokey wrote for others:
- “You Beat Me to the Punch”
- “My Guy”
- “My Girl”
- “The Way You Do The Things You Do”
- “Since I Lost My Baby”
- “Get Ready”
- “I’ll Be Doggone”
- “Ain’t That Peculiar”
- And of course, “Don’t Mess With Bill”