The call finally comes for Chris Robinson

* C Chris Robinson (Dorchester, Ont.) was promoted to the majors by the San Diego Padres. Another CBN blogger makes the majors -- anyone else interested? .... MLB open workouts 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors  2013 Canadian collegians playing summer ball 2013 Canadians in College  Letters of Intent


Chris Robinson blog

By Bob Elliott

Over the last 11 years it has been the same routine for me at the annual Baseball Canada banquet and fund raiser.

Once work is done for the next day’s paper, I return to the room where the press conference was held to examine silent auction items in the ball room of the Renaissance Toronto Hotel at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

A quick tour of the jerseys, ticket packages, signed pictures and autographed balls up for bids is to see A) what friends are bidding on ... all the better to tell them someone just doubled their bid and B) try and gauge how much of a success the night is going to be.

It is an important night for the program since the Olympics dropped baseball erasing Olympic funding by the Canadian government for baseball.

Invariably, I’d stand head down looking at the bid sheet when I can feel some one beside me:

“So, are you bidding on this?”

It could be a framed Baseball America photo of Canuck first rounders Adam Loewen and Jeff Francis.

Or maybe an autographed Roy Halladay jersey.

Possibly tickets for a Blue Jays weekend with a free flight and free tickets.

“You bidding on this?”

I have never bid myself -- a Lucille Ball-like experience at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation in Beverly Hills, Calif. clinched that -- but I’ve always made the tour and always asked the question:

“So, are you bidding on this?”

In January of 2010 I stood in front of a package donated by Ryan Dempster of the Chicago Cubs: a trip to Chicago, tickets to Wrigley Field.

Head down I asked the person next to me.

“So, are you bidding on this?”

“NO” was the emphatic reply.

Slowly, I turned ... and there was catcher Chris Robinson, who hit .326 at triple-A Iowa -- the Cubs top affiliate.


“I hope to get there some day and not need a ticket,” said Robinson.

Robinson never made it with the Cubs.

He never made it with the Baltimore Orioles or the Detroit Tigers, who drafted him in the third round from the University of Illinois, as the top Canadian drafted in 2005.

Yet, Robinson did get the call Thursday from the San Diego Padres, an organization he’d been with for all of 29 games.

Robinson was promoted to replace catcher Nick Hundley who returned to San Diego Wednesday evening from Denver, where the Padres played a day game at Coors Field on maternity leave

Robinson arrived before batting practice in advance of Thursday’s game against a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets.

“He’s a veteran catcher, a good catch-and-throw guy, solid defensively, comes with a lot of experience, calls a good game,” Padres manager Bud Black told reporters in San Diego. “Our scouts felt he was a guy you can trust your young Minor League pitchers with or a Triple-A staff with, and they had no problem with him catching in a Major League game if needed.”

Hundley’s wife, Amy, gave birth to a girl at 11:43 a.m. on Thursday and he can miss three games.

If the roots of Baseball Canada program start with Larry Walker, then branch out to Stubby Clapp, Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie, Phillippe Aumont, the Robinson limb is just as solid.

He’s known as the ultimate Capt. Canada since:

Canada didn’t lose a beat when Russell Martin decided not to play in this spring’s World Baseball Classic in Phoenix.

When Rich Harden, who didn’t pitch in the first round of the 2006 WBC, came to the Canada dugout during Canada’s 8-6 win over Team USA, offering his services to pitch in the second round if Canada advanced, it was Robinson, one of three catchers, who told manager Ernie Whitt he didn’t mind being “hurt” for the next round.

More than one person e-mailed me Thursday stating “I shed a tear of happiness for Robbie today. So happy.” Or Happy, happy, happy as Phil Robertson says on Duck Dynasty.

Every time we see Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, Robinson's manager at Iowa, always asked "how is is favourite catcher doing?"

When Robinson bunted for a base hit against Mexico -- concerned about the tie-breaking run differential -- with a large lead and the next hitter Rene Tosoni was plunked ... on the third attempt, the Canadian dugout emptied in support of Tosoni and Robinson.

He was squatting at the 2008 Olympic Qualifier in Taiwan and later at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

And he was there for Canada’s 2009 bronze in the World Cup, the 2011 double: Pan Am Games gold win and bronze.

Plus he was a reasons Canada got the job done at the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Germany.

Now, in his ninth minor-league season, the last four at triple-A, Robinson finally received the call.

The Dorchester, Ont. resident a graduate of the London Badgers, was hitting .298, with three homers and 15 RBIs at triple-A Tucson.

He had spent the first 29 games this year with triple-A Norfolk in the Baltimore Orioles system.

He has played 624 games in the minors at class-A Oneonta, class-A West Michigan, class-A Lakeland, class-A Daytona, double-A Tennessee, triple-A Iowa and two stops this year.

Altogether, he’s hit 121 doubles, seven triples, 12 homers and driven in 262 runs. He had a .675 OPS.

When Robinson appears in a game for the Padres he’ll be the 19th Canadian to reach the majors this season, while 110 Canadians have appeared in the minors this season.