/They began as collaborators, became friends Trailblazers Frank Robinson and Jackson’s Janet Marie Smith

They began as collaborators, became friends Trailblazers Frank Robinson and Jackson’s Janet Marie Smith

Smith, a Baltimore resident, said that Frank is well-known for his baseball achievements, but that he was also an extraordinary man who was passionate about what he did. Smith spoke by telephone from Baltimore. His contribution to Camden Yards’ design is so important that it often gets overlooked. Frank was a key part of the design process, and I can confirm that. Frank had very clear ideas about the layout of the playing field and clubhouse, and his input was invaluable. Frank values things and Camden Yards was no exception.” Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened to great acclaim in 1992. It set off a new trend for ballpark design. This new trend is still in fashion today. It moved away from the all-purpose, symmetrical stadia to what could best be described as a retro look back to the early 1900s, when Major League baseball parks were built to fit into local neighborhoods. Robinson and Smith, both 1975 Callaway High graduates, have collaborated on many other projects. Smith stated that although Robinson was a well-known name, Smith started as a colleague. We became good friends, as was the case with many others who worked alongside Frank. Frank will be missed by me. You see, you read about Frank’s toughness as both a player or a manager. He was a gentle soul. Robinson was a special person who made everyone around him feel special. Robinson hit 586 homers in 21 seasons. Robinson is the only baseball player to have been voted Most Valuable Player both in the National and American Leagues. According to the New York Times, his playing style was described as follows: “He was an intense, often intimidating presence, leaning forward from his right-handed position, daring pitchers (which they did,198 times), and then retaliating by long drives, ‘pounding pitchers,’ as Roger Kahn, the baseball writer, once wrote. With his fearsome slides, he broke up double plays. Robinson demanded that his teammates share his will to win.” Jackie Robinson broke the Major League color lines as a player. Frank Robinson, the Cleveland Indians’ first African American manager, became Major League Baseball’s first African American baseball manager on April 8, 1975. Frank Robinson, a still active player, celebrated with a homer in the Indians’ 5-3 win over the Yankees. Frank Robinson managed the San Francisco Giants and Orioles, as well as the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals during his entire career. Robinson was a hard worker. According to the Times, Robinson was the Orioles manager from 1988 to 1991. He was awarded the American League Manager Award for 1989. His Orioles record of 87-75, which included 33 more wins than the previous season, earned him the title of American League Manager Of The Year. Robinson and Smith first met during this time and started to discuss the Orioles new ballpark. Smith stated that Frank had specific ideas about the field dimensions, foul territory, dugout and clubhouse. “Our president Larry Lucchino desired an old-fashioned baseballpark with modern amenities. Frank elevated this to a whole new level. Frank was passionate about fair play. He loved the idea of left and right field being different sizes with different outfield walls. His credibility allowed us do something special.” Smith, who gave the keynote speech at the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Cooperstown Symposium, made sure that everyone knew about Frank Robinson’s achievement that was not mentioned at the Hall of Fame. Smith said, “We had an important secret weapon: Frank Robinson was our manager and had played in classic, older ballparks.” Smith spoke of the advantages of smaller foul areas to hitters and defensive strength of knowing outfield quirks. This added credibility to our advocacy for an old-fashioned park. Smith worked on stadium projects for four Major League Baseball clubs, including the Orioles (Atlanta Braves), the Boston Red Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. She is now vice president for planning & development. She changed the game of baseball in Baltimore with Camden Yards. George Will, an author, wrote the following passage. “The three most important events in baseball history since WWII were Jackie Robinson’s entry on the Brooklyn field in 1947, the arrival of free agency in 1975 and the opening of Orioles Park at Camden Yards in 1992. Although the last one was a heroic act of nostalgia, baseball fans can live with cricks in both their necks and backwards. Major League Baseball owes a debt of gratitude to a Mississippi woman. Janet Marie Smith replied to those who claimed that you can’t go back in time. She is credited as the architect who saved Fenway Park in Boston. In Atlanta, she was responsible for the conversion of Olympic Stadium into Turner Field. She was charged with the modernization of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. While she is still working with the Dodgers and preparing for the 2020 Major League All-Star Game in the renovated Dodger Stadium in 2020, Smith also consults with the Boston Red Sox regarding the construction of a Class AAA Stadium in Worcester, Mass. Smith kept in touch with Frank Robinson’s wife Barbara and his daughter Nichelle throughout all of the projects. Smith was responsible for the design of six sculptures of Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson and Earl Weaver. Toby Mendez’s work was reviewed by Frank Robinson. Frank Robinson’s sculpture was the first one to be cast and unveiled. He took it upon himself that all six figures, as well as the five men he highly respected, would be accurately represented. Smith stated that Frank played for, or was associated with, or managed each one of them. “He was a stickler to detail, down to Earl Weaver’s countenance and Jim Palmer’s leg kick.” Robinson demanded that Smith be brought in to supervise the installation of Frank Robinson’s sculpture at Progressive Field. Smith ensured that Frank Robinson was present when the Los Angeles Dodgers revealed a statue honoring Jackie Robinson in 2017. Smith stated that Frank Robinson had been championing the sculpture for many years. Smith stated that he gave Branly Cadet a lot feedback while the sculpture was still in clay form. “Frank was very aware, and I believe very proud, of his contributions to civil rights in this country.” He was proud to be the first Major League manager of color, after Jackie Robinson broke down the color line as an athlete. Smith stated that Frank and Barbara and Nichelle invited him and his wife to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “I will never forget Frank’s joy when he saw the exhibit on his contribution.” Frank Robinson’s family requested that donations in his name be made to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington. Smith said, “It tells us about Frank’s passions and serves as reminder that Frank is more than a great athlete.”