Bill Robinson, former '79 Pirate, dies at 64

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Bill Robinson, who earned a World Series ring while playing for the 1979 Pirates, died today. He was 64.

Robinson, a graduate of Elizabeth Forward High School, was working as the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor-league hitting instructor.

The cause of death was not known.

Robinson was in his second season with the Dodgers after spending four years as a member of the Florida Marlins' coaching staff, where he was the hitting coach when the Marlins won the 2003 World Series. He was also hitting coach for the New York Mets from 1984 to 1989, which included their 1986 world championship.

He spent 16 years in the majors and compiled 1,127 hits, 166 home runs and 641 RBIs as an outfielder for the Braves, Yankees, Phillies and Pirates from 1966 to 1983. He played in a career-high 148 games for the 1979 world champion Pirates, when he batted .264 with 24 homers, 75 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

Robinson's best season was 1977, when he batted .304 and set career highs in hits (154), runs (74) homers (26) and RBIs (104), which ranked eighth in the National League. He also finished 11th in National League MVP voting that season.

In addition to his major league coaching career, Robinson served as the hitting coach for the Columbus Clippers -- the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate -- from 1999 to 2001 and was a minor league coach and manager in the Phillies' farm system from 1994 to 1998. He managed the Caracas Leones to the Venezuelan League Championship and a berth in the Caribbean Series in 1988.

Robinson also was as an analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" from 1990 to 91.

"Bill was a wonderful family man and a great baseball player, coach, manager and friend to everyone he met," said Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti. "Even though he never played for the Dodgers, it was an honor that he chose to be a part of the organization. Everyone he came into contact with was better for having known him. He had everyone's best interest in mind at all times and he cared deeply about the development of our young players."

He is survived by his wife, Mary Alice; two children, William III and Kelley Ann; and three grandchildren, Bret, Ty and Will.

Memorial services for Robinson are pending.


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