Bill Robinson Dead at 64

Bill Robinson, a 16-year veteran of the big leagues and the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor league hitting coordinator, died at age 64. Robinson, who was in Las Vegas to work with the 51s, was found dead in his hotel room at Paris Las Vegas on Sunday morning -- only hours after he threw batting practice and coached first base for the 51s in Saturday's 5-4 win over Round Rock at Cashman Field.

"We've lost a special part of our family, the Dodgers family," 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said. "Personally speaking, he was just a good friend and a good baseball man."

The official cause of Robinson's death was not known.

"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 will be missed by everyone in the game of baseball and our deepest sympathies are with his family, particularly Mary Alice, Bill Jr. and Kelley."

Bundy said he tried unsuccessfully to reach Robinson on his cell phone Sunday morning and learned of his death in the third inning of Sunday's 5-3 win over the Express.

"We played with some heavy hearts today, so it was nice to come out on top," he said. "I told the guys afterward he'd be very proud of the way they hung in there."

Robinson was in his second season in the Dodger organization following four years as a member of the Florida Marlins coaching staff, where he was the hitting coach for the 2003 World Championship team. He also served in that role for the New York Mets from 1984-89, which included their 1986 World Championship.

"Bill was a true gentleman and the consummate professional," said Dodger Director of Player Development, De Jon Watson. "He worked tirelessly with our young players, sharing his wisdom and knowledge of the game. He will be greatly missed by the Dodger players and staff and our deepest condolences go out to his family."

51s hitting coach Mike Easler was a close friend and former teammate of Robinson's on the 1979 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates, and he said Robinson had dealt with health issues for a while. "I knew he wasn't well at times," Easler said. "He said he had problems with his heart or something like that, but he never really talked about it."

Easler said Robinson asked if he could replace him as first base coach in the eighth inning Saturday.

"I said, 'Fine, Bill, no problem. I love you, buddy,' " Easler said. "Earlier, before he went out there, he said, 'I've been in Vegas five days; I should've brought my family with me.' It's devastating. It is shocking. He was just here yesterday."

51s first baseman John Lindsey said Robinson looked great Saturday. "Right now it's just a shock. I can't believe it," Lindsey said in a somber 51s locker room. "We were just joking around and talking. He was looking great and healthy. He looked in better shape than I do."

Robinson was born in Mc-Keesport, Pa., on June 26, 1943, and was an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Pirates from 1966-69 and 1972-83.

Robinson also earned World Series rings with the 1986 New York Mets and 2003 Florida Marlins as a hitting instructor and first base coach.

Easler called him his mentor on the Pirates. "He was an elder statesman when I was coming in, and, along with Willie Stargell, he kind of coddled me and took care of me and helped me get acclimated," said Easler, who used Robinson's bat to hit his first career home run. "I learned baseball from him. I respect him, that's the bottom line.

"He was outstanding. He loved baseball and being around the game and being around the players."

Robinson served as an analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" in 1990-91 and also coached in the Yankees and Phillies farm systems. --Official Dodger press release and Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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