PITTSBURGH -- Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, who died on Thursday at the age of 83, and Lou Piniella were teammates briefly on the Baltimore Orioles in 1964.
That was Piniella's only season with the O's, and he had one at-bat -- when he made his Major League debut on Sept. 4, 1964, in the fourth inning. He pinch-hit for Roberts, who started the game against the Los Angeles Angels.
"I grounded out to shortstop, and when I got back to the dugout, he said, '[Heck], I could've done that,'" Piniella said, laughing.
Actually, according to the box score, Piniella grounded out to the second baseman, but you get the picture. Roberts lost the game, 7-1, at Dodger Stadium.
"I get back to the dugout, and he said, '[Darn], rook, I could've done that. What the [heck] did they send you up to hit for me?'" Piniella said.
Piniella would see Roberts during the offseason because he lived near him in the Tampa, Fla., area.
"I followed his career because I was a fan of the 'Whiz Kids' back with Richie Ashburn and Curt Simmons and that whole group, and Robin was a mainstay of that pitching staff," Piniella said. "They used to train right in Clearwater, 18, 20 miles from home, so I used to go see them play."