Andre Robertson Field honors past; links to future outreach for West Orange-Stark

Published 12:10 am Monday, February 13, 2023

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WEST ORANGE — Overcast skies and chilly weather did not stifle the overarching feeling of pride beaming from the people that packed the stands for West Orange-Stark’s field dedication for “Legend Day” at the newly christened Andre Robertson Field.

The large crowd was filled with alumni and students alike, who burst into applause as the man of the hour, former big leaguer and WOS graduate Andre Roberson, made his way across the diamond to receive his commemorative plaque. He accepted the plaque graciously, standing and smiling on the field he grew up playing on which now bears his name.

An Orange native, Robertson has led a remarkable life. He broke down color barriers being part of the first African American little league players to play in Orange, and then again when he became the first ever African American player ever to receive a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Texas.

West Orange-Stark baseball coach Sergio Espinal is looking to revitalize the baseball program with West Orange-Cove Consolidated School District. (Courtesy photo)

From there he was drafted by Toronto and traded to the Yankees, who he won a World Series with as a rookie call up in 1981. Robertson spent the next five years as a big leaguer with the Yankees before suffering a career ending injury, but compiled an impressive accolades, nonetheless.

“This means a lot to me, the hard work that went into putting this together, it’s really appreciated,” Robertson said. “I don’t try to get things like this given too me, but I’ll be here to back up what they’ve (WOS school board) done. I’m going to try to be a presence and help these kids the best I can.”

Robertson wants to find ways to give back to the community that he loves, and he has a plan to do just that.

WOS baseball coach Sergio Espinal said the once great Mustangs baseball team churned out more than a dozen professional players but is in need of a boost. Which is why he is excited to have Robertson getting more involved to help revitalize the program.

Action takes place on the field at Andre Robertson Field. (Courtesy photo)

“(Robertson) has been a great role model, he’s come out and just given advice to a lot of the kids,” Espinal said. “With the things that he’s accomplished, just having him around has been awesome.”

Now to help the youths of the area, Robertson and Espinal have teamed up to run the “Andre Robertson Baseball Academy,” a free three-week baseball camp for all students enrolled in the West Orange Cove Consolidated Independent School District.

They teach the fundamentals of baseball and make it fun. Both men hope these camps help reignite the interest in baseball in the area.

For Robertson this camp is all about paying it forward.

“I just want to show the kids that when you work hard and dedicate yourself, it can be done,” Robertson said. “I’ve went all the way up in baseball, and now I just want to come back and pass on what I’ve learned. Hopefully in the future these kids will do the same thing. It’s giving back that’s important.”

— Written by Brett C. Strahan