“I’m just playing a gig,” says Bruce Robinson. But not just any gig — the singer/songwriter was invited to play the main stage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland when the Indians host the Yankees August 24 and 25. Robinson, a former Yankee, was a major-league catcher during the late 1970s and early ’80s. “I always took a guitar with me on the road when I was playing baseball, but I never dreamed that one day I’d be writing music and performing.”
In 1975, Robinson, who was born and raised in La Jolla, was a first-round draft pick out of Stanford. His professional baseball career was derailed by injuries sustained when a drunk driver rear-ended his car. The final phase of Robinson’s baseball career saw him coaching on one of the A’s farm teams, where he mentored two young hitters — Mark McGwire and José Canseco.
After sports, Robinson, 58, who now splits his time between La Jolla and Idaho, turned his economics degree into a career that at various times encompassed land development, mortgage banking, and market intelligence. He still played guitar, but the composing didn’t start until recent days. “It was my fiancée that encouraged me to write songs. I’ve written 12 so far this year.”
How the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gig came about: “Because I played in the big leagues, I got to meet a guy in the administration at the Baseball Hall of Fame. In fact, I even helped him correct some of the errors in their displays. Well, he got a job at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We’ve stayed in touch...” Robinson has been there before, but as a visitor. He says connections got him a VIP insider’s tour. “I got to hold clothing the Beatles wore in Sgt. Pepper’s and Beatles song manuscripts. Things like that.”
Robinson says he will play an all-originals set on the stage inside the hall’s main rotunda. “I’ll probably go out for an hour, hour and a half. It’s going to be a mixture of country and blues and ballads. I wouldn’t call it rock and roll because it’s all acoustic. I play my Taylor guitar...and a ukulele.” What does the ex-jock sing about? “A lot of my songs are autobiographical, but I haven’t written a baseball song yet.”
Among the venues Robinson plays in San Diego are Le Papagayo in Leucadia and Jose’s Courtroom in La Jolla. “Baseball opened doors. I’m not the best musician or singer in the world, and I know that. But people seem to enjoy my music.”