THE ROBIN YOUNT COLLECTION
Baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount represents a ball player from a bygone era. As a 20-year member of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1974 to 1993, Yount spent his entire MLB career competing for the Brew Crew. With free agency looming large, this remarkable run of loyalty put him in elite company with fellow Cooperstown members such as George Brett (21 seasons in Kansas City), Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons in Boston) and Brooks Robinson (23 seasons in Baltimore). And whether he was playing shortstop during his early days in the bigs or patrolling center field in the second half of his career, delivering in the clutch at critical junctures of baseball games was just part of Yount’s gift.
Born in Danville, Illinois, on Sept. 16, 1955, Yount and his family soon moved to Woodland Hills, Calif., where Robin blossomed on the baseball diamond at William Howard Taft High School. Selected by the Brewers with the third overall pick in the 1973 draft – one pick ahead of the Padres taking Dave Winfield – Yount made his debut for Milwaukee on April 5, 1974, at the tender age of 18. Never looking back, he quickly became the Brewers starting shortstop. In fact, with nearly two full seasons under his belt before turning 20, he broke Mel Ott’s longstanding, 47-year-old record for most MLB games played as a teenager with 243.
An early proponent of weight training, something much of the league ignored in those days, Yount watched his power numbers steadily improve through the remainder of the 1970s. His slugging percentage alone grew from .319 in 1976 to .519 by 1980. That was also the season Yount blasted a league-leading 49 doubles with 10 triples and 23 home runs. The start of the new decade ignited a streak of 11-of-12 straight seasons where Yount launched double-digit home run totals topped by 29 round-trippers in 1982. The ’82 campaign, as it turns out, was his finest season statistically. He led the American League with 210 hits, which included 46 doubles for a league-leading .578 slugging percentage. More importantly he led the Brewers to their first (and only) World Series appearance after helping the team post a regular-season record of 95-67.
Yount’s stellar play carried through the playoffs as Milwaukee edged the California Angles, three games to two, in the ALCS, before bowing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the Fall Classic. Despite the heartbreaking World Series defeat, he batted a team-leading .414 with 12 hits and six runs batted in.
Injuries began to take a toll on Yount and he was forced to move to the outfield in 1985. Undeterred he proved to be a quick study and wound up winning his second A.L. MVP Award in eight years while playing center field. That season he batted .318 with 21 home runs and 103 RBI, while posting a near flawless .984 fielding average.
Durable as the day is long, Yount averaged playing better than 142 games per season over the course of 20 years and his hit totals continued to grow into his 30s. Perhaps no hit meant more to Yount than his 3,000th – a single in the bottom of the seventh inning off Jose Mesa – on Sept. 9, 1992, against the Cleveland Indians. It was yet another crowning achievement in a career full of milestone moments, a feat where he became just the 17th MLB player to do so and at the age of 36, the third youngest in history.
The following year, 1993, would mark Yount’s final season in the majors. He collected 117 hits in 127 games to end his prolific career with 3,142 hits, the most in Brewers’ history. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 in his first year of eligibility. Now 23 years since his retirement, Yount still holds several other team records including games played (2,856), RBI (1,406) and runs scored (1,632). On May 29, 1994, the Brewers retired Yount’s uniform number 19 making him just the third player in franchise history to be so honored. He was preceded by Hank Aaron and Rollie Fingers.