2000 N.L. Champion Mets Hitting Coach: Tom Robson (1997 - 2002)

Thomas James Robson was born on January 15, 1946 in Rochester, New York. He attended Utah State University, getting drafted by the New York Mets down in the 50th round of the 1967 draft. 

He would start out at A ball Visalia, playing three seasons as the team's first baseman. In his first month he batted over .400 & was quickly promoted to a higher league at Durham. After it was proven he was promoted to soon, he went back at Visalia.

He had a huge 1968 year at AA Visalia, winning the league's HR Title, hitting 35 HRs with 102 RBIs & a .283 average. That season he was a teammate of future Mets Teddy Martinez, Ken Singleton & Jesse Hudson.


Wedding: That season Tom married his wife, Jeanette at home plate before a game against Modesto. Tom wore his Mets uniform as he & his bride walked under the archway of bats, his fellow teammates held high, in traditional baseball style.

The two would remain married for 52 years, until his passing. They had two boys, who both play pro ball.

Robson began the Mets 1969 Championship season at Visalia & was promoted to AA Memphis. There he suffered a thumb injury but was kept in the lineup, as his average fell due to the injury. He was back at Visalia & regained form working with Roy McMillan.

In 1970, he was traded to the Montreal Expos organization and would play with the Cincinnati Reds before landing with the Texas Rangers.

Record Setter: Robson set a Rangers minor league record by hitting 14 HRs in 1974,.

That got him a call up to the big leagues. He played in six games, batting .231 with Teas on 1974. He returned briefly for 17 games the next year, batting .200 with two RBIs.

He suffered a back injury & briefly played in Japan for 37 games batting just over .200.

Coaching:
After his playing days Robson went into a coaching career & began working with Texas manager, Bobby Valentine back in 1986. He was the batting coach on Bobby V’s staff until his departure from Texas in 1992. Two of his best pupils in Texas, were Ruben Sierra & Rafael Palmeiro.

Mets Coaching Career: Five years later, Robson arrived on Bobby Valentine’s New York Mets team, in Valentines first full year at the helm in 1997. 

Looking back it must be noted at how the team improved under Robson's tenure as batting coach. The team got to two straight post seasons, with the likes of Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, Robin Ventura & John Olerud, leading the offense. 

Olerud himself, called Robson the best coach he ever had. Personally he improved from batting .274 in Toronto in 1997, to batting a .294 with the Mets in 1998. Olerud followed that up by hitting .354 the next year, in 1998. 

Mets Drama: After an eight game losing streak in 1999 capped off by a subway series loss, GM Steve Phillips fired Robson, along with Bob Apodaca & Randy Nieman. Mets manager, Bobby Valentine was furious, he had known nothing about the firing of his two closest coaches, until he arrived at the ballpark. Robson was replaced by minor league hitting instructor Mickey Brantley. 

The powerful 1999 team were the second best hitting team in the NL with a .279 average & the league’s best team on base %. After the season Valentine fought to get Robson back as his hitting coach. GM, Steve Phillips gave in, admitting he was wrong to fire him. 

Robson was rehired for the 2000 season & his Mets hitters responded by going all the way to the World Series. The club had the leagues fifth best on base %, although they fell to tenth in batting average (.263). 

He was fired by the Mets, a second time after the World Series & was replaced with Dave Engle.

In May of 2001, as the Mets bats were struggling, Robson was asked by GM Steve Phillips to stop by & give the hitters some help. Phillips downplayed the idea that new hitting coach Dave Engle wasn’t doing a good job. The Mets hitters finished 15th in the league in hitting after the departure of Robson. 

At the end of that season, Robson was once again added to the staff as the bench coach replacing Bobby Floyd.

He stayed with the Mets for one more season, and left when Valentine & his staff were dismissed. 

Book on Hitting: In 2003 Robson wrote a book called the Hitting Edge with a forward by John Olerud.

Family: Robson's nephew is former Kansas City Royal, Mike Moustakas.

Passing: Robson passed away from natural causes on April 20th 2021 at age 75. 

Quotes: Bobby Valentine: "The best hitting coach & friend any team could have, left us today. Thank you for everything, Tom Robson." He also said: " As a hitting coach, Robbie was ahead of his times. He used kinetics & launch angle before anyone else did."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Vixen Founder / Guitarist; Jan Kuehnemund (1961-2013)

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

The 1970's Oakland A's Ball Girls- (MLB's First)

The Story of the New York Mets Logo

Remembering Christine McVie (1943-2022)