MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Robinson's father a source for guidance on and off field

Robinson's father a source for guidance on and off field

WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder/first baseman Clint Robinson doesn't hesitate when he says that his father, Arney Robinson, is his best friend.

This father did a lot for his son. It was Arney who is credited for getting Clint into baseball. Arney built a batting cage that included Astroturf and stadium lights in their backyard in Alabama. The way his son saw it, Arney was hardcore when it came to baseball.

Even when Clint was just 8 years old, Arney had a feeling that his son was going to become a baseball player.

"He just liked to play and we lived in the deep south in Alabama," Arney said. "So I like baseball, and I decided to build a cage for him so he could play a lot. If he wanted to play, I wanted him to be as good as he could be."

Outside of baseball, Arney taught Clint about life. It was about taking responsibility for your own actions, getting an education, being a good father and husband.

"He has always been there for me," Clint said. "[Without him] I wouldn't be in the position that I'm in -- baseball wise. Coming out of the Draft, not making any money in the Minor Leagues, he made it possible for me to work hard in the offseason and not get offseason jobs and all that kind of stuff. He is probably one of the biggest reasons where I am today."

Take the offseason of 2008: Robinson was set to take an offseason job with a communications company. It meant he wouldn't be able work out as much and prepare for the baseball season. Arney wasn't too happy to learn about his son's offseason plans -- he wanted him to concentrate on his craft.

He told Clint to quit that job and gave him a monthly stipend.

Arney said to Clint, "I'll pretty much be your employer. Your job is to go work out and get ready for the season."

Clint paid his father back by finally making it to the Major Leagues in a regular role with the Nationals this year. Clint has been a quality player off the bench. Of course, Arney is proud that is son is the big leagues. He said he is Clint's biggest fan and critic.

"I couldn't be happier that he is at least getting an opportunity. I love that he is getting a chance. That's all he asked for," Arney said.

But Arney wants Clint to be something better than a big leaguer. Clint and his wife will soon be parents to a baby girl.

"Baseball sure, that's great. but I want him to be a good man and a happy man," Arney said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.