By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Former Reds great Frank Robinson - moved by a ceremony honoring him and the unveiling of his statue in Crosley Terrace before Friday's game at Great American Ball Park - raised his right fist in a triumphant gesture at the end of his speech and declared: "You can come back home; I am home!"
After the Reds traded Robinson following the 1965 season - and then did not even call or write him upon his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, let alone send an emissary to Cooperstown - the wound was opened wide.
Reds chief operating officer John Allen began the healing process with the retirement of Robinson's number (20) in 1998, and the Reds completed it with the unveiling Friday of his statue in Crosley Terrace. Robinson lifted the cover and smiled widely, pleased to see the powerful swing - and the sleek legs, hips and butt he had asked sculptor Tom Tsuchiya to thin out after seeing a one-quarter scale model last April.
"You come into this game with a lot of thoughts on what you might accomplish before you are finished," said Robinson, 68. "You don't allow yourself to think about being voted into the Hall of Fame. You do come in, maybe with visions of being an MVP, being on a pennant winner, being on a World Series winner. But it never, never enters your mind that someday, somehow, somewhere, someone is going to unveil a statue in your honor. And this is why it's kind of overwhelming here today."
He apologized for not visiting Cincinnati enough after his trade in 1965. He had lived here through every offseason of his 10-year career here: "People thought I was a little crazy. They said, 'Why don't you come back to California?' I said: 'Because I love Cincinnati. That's where I worked. I'm treated well there. I appreciate the people of Cincinnati and the surrounding areas and how they come out and support me during the summer, and how they treat me in the winter. I want to be there.' That was 10 wonderful years, and I will never, never, never forget that."
Robinson was feted by Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman, the master of ceremonies; Chuck Harmon, the first African-American to play for the Reds; former Negro Leaguer Sonny Webb, his Cincinnati friend of 50 years; Expos catcher Michael Barrett; Expos general manager Omar Minaya; the Reds' Allen; and sculptor Tsuchiya.
"Everything you heard about Frank - his toughness, determination, aggressiveness, his will to win - is true, and sometimes, as Nichelle and Barbara will know, we are victims of it," said Minaya, laughing. Barbara is Robinson's wife of 42 years; Nichelle, their daughter, was born here.
BOB HUGGINS - ONE YEAR LATER
Coach aims for biggest rebound
Friends worried: Will Bob make it?
COLLEGE FOOTBALL SATURDAY
Miami 42, UC 37
Ohio St. 20, Northwestern 0
Florida 24, Kentucky 21
Bearcats bracing for a dogfight
UC-MU telecast falls victim to labor strike in Oxford
Bucks' second season begins
Gators hope freshman QB gets offense firing again
Louisville's start more than luck to Petrino
Big off-field changes coming in college football
Irish mum about starting QB
Top 25 games today
BENGALS / NFL
Battle of Ohio cooling down
Isolation booth: Braham vs. Davis
Bengals' keys to victory
Dillon ready to run against Browns, but Schobel doubtful
Injured athlete voted homecoming king
Hughes 12, Western Hills 7
Colerain 51, L. West 0
Danville 26, Highlands 25
Elder 49, Covington Catholic 21
Anderson 42, Glen Este 28
Beechwood 62, Ludlow 14
Reading 28, Madeira 12
Clinton-Massie 25, Batavia 20
Shroder Paideia 22, Aiken 18
Your 'Audible': Kings 49, Norwood 43 (3 OT)
Roundup: Ohio's other games
Roundup: Kentucky's other games
Scores, how poll teams fared
Predict the winners
'Call An Audible'
REDS / BASEBALL
Saturday's Game: Reds 4, Expos 2
Friday's Game: Expos 5, Reds 1
Reds interview Minaya today for GM post
Notes: Reith gets to take starting shot
Robinson touched by statue
Sound off in our Barry Larkin poll
24 photo gallery of Larkin's career
Family too busy for Clemens' finale
NL: Wild-card berth belongs to Marlins
AL: Tigers edge closer to infamous mark
WORLD CUP SOCCER
Hamm's final World Cup shaping up to be her best
Americans excelling at set pieces in World Cup
Sadler claims pole at Talladega
Armour holds slim lead in Texas
Crafty Shaw attempts to repeat today at Turfway
ON THE AIR
Sports on TV, radio
Return to Reds front page...