Paying homage to an old friend in the Rockcats Organization

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We all know them.  They’re “run inta” guys.  You run into them here, you run into them there.  You don’t quite remember when you first met them or the last time you saw them, you just “run inta” them.  For me “Buddy” Robinson was one of those guys.  For years Edgar F. “Buddy” Robinson of Vernon was the team photographer for the Eastern League New Britain Rock Cats.  I’m not sure when I first ran into “Buddy”, only that I know for sure it was around baseball, a game, a practice, a hot stove session.  I actually believe it was at spring training in Winter Haven, Florida when the Red Sox Eastern League affiliate called New Britain home.  “Buddy”, I believe, had just taken a picture of me sitting in the stands at Chain O’ Lakes Park with my dad, a Winter Haven resident and season ticket holder of the Winter Haven Red Sox.  Later that summer “Buddy” presented me with the picture.  He got to know my dad quite well and, knowing he was in failing health, frequently inquired about him, something I always appreciated.  That’s the way “Buddy” was.  I’d run into him at a Rock Cats game and he’d ask about my dad.  I’d run into him at the annual hot stove luncheon and he’d ask how my winter was going.  I’d run into him at the annual Rock Cats media day and he’d comment on a commentary I’d done or a column I’d written.  To “Buddy”, it seemed, the other guy always came first.  A short man with an almost elf-like presence and an impish smile half hidden by a neat, dark mustache, “Buddy” always came with accessories, his cameras and his tripod, or “sticks”, as those in the profession refer to it, as much a part of his personality as that constant and consistent congeniality.  Many a night, during WTIC broadcasts of Rock Cats games, I’d share the photographer’s well next to the dugout with “Buddy”, who’s combined understanding of the nuances of the game and the unique characeristics of the angles around him made him quite adept at dodging foul balls and overthrows, a talent he eventually, and thankfully, passed on to me.  Some “run inta” guys, and in the sports world there are probably more than anywhere else, make a greater impression than others, and, for me, “Buddy” was right at the top of that list.  So much so that I not only can’t remember when it was I first ran into him, i can’t remember the precise moment when “Buddy” stopped being a “run inta” guy and just became a friend, but it’s a relationship that has been at that level for many years now.  I don’t remember the last time I saw “Buddy”, because his presence at the ballpark last summer was more sporadic than it had been in the past.  It was with great sadness that I learned yesterday that “Buddy” Robinson passed away last Thursday at the age of 70.  For Rock Cats team officials, coaches and players and scores of ballpark regulars there will be a major void at New Britain Stadium this summer.  As much as I personally will miss “Buddy” Robinson, I know in my heart that sometime, somewhere down the road I’ll “run inta” him again.  With a fond farewell to a special friend in the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.


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