Softball: Former Clown Robinson dies at 91

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By Mike Cote

JL “Robbie” Robinson, an original member of Pierotti’s Clowns, died earlier this month at the age of 91.

Robinson, a pitcher whom Clowns’ ace Bernard L. “Bun” Ryan credited for helping him improve his delivery, died Dec. 3 following a brief illness. Robinson lived in San Pedro, just outside of Española.

Pierotti’s Clowns was a traveling five-man softball team from Los Alamos. The Clowns, who were sponsored by the Los Alamos Kiwanis Club, was started by businessman Lou Pierotti.

Pierotti’s Clowns played exhibition games for charity regularly between 1953-1977, winning 177 of the 200 games they played during that span. The Clowns raised approximately $250,000 for charity during their playing days.

Like most of the Clowns, Robinson worked for S-Site at Los Alamos National Laboratory when he joined the Clowns.

Prior to moving to Los Alamos, Robinson was a professional softball pitcher in eastern Texas, earning as much as $20 per game.

Pierotti, the manager and biggest showman on the team, said Robinson was among the quietest of the Clowns.

“He was very soft-spoken. A gentleman,” Pierotti said. “There were two guys on the team I considered gentlemen, Verdi (Raper) and Robbie Robinson.”

Robinson had a good riseball and drop ball, but didn’t have the kind of fastball that fireballer Ryan was known for.

However, in the early part of his career, Ryan was wild.

Ryan said that Robinson worked with him, helping him to slow down his delivery and get more of his fastballs over the plate

Before joining the Clowns, Robinson also played with the nine-man S-Site team and with the team sponsored by Hunter Motors in Española.

Robinson moved to New Mexico in 1948. He retired from the lab in 1981.

Ryan said that whatever Robinson did, he gave it his all.

“He was as diligent as anybody I knew,” he said. “Whether it was pitching, or square dancing or running his tractor, he was very diligent.”

When he wasn’t playing softball, Robinson enjoyed fishing and boating.

Surviving family members include daughters Comora Arlene Riginger, Alice Mae Naranjo and Brenda Faye Law, as well as three sisters, 15 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and 17 great-great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by Comora Irene Robinson, his wife of 64 years, as well as his son, David.

Robinson, who was born in 1917 in Texarkana, Texas, is the second of the Clowns to die this year. Noe Lujan died in July.

Pierotti said that 10 former Clowns have died. Robinson is the third of the original Clowns to pass on, following Stan Ewing and Walt Garcia.