Buck Showalter doles out homework

Baltimore Orioles minor league outfielder Josh Hart hasn't spent much time, if any, gazing at the photo gallery of Hall of Famers at the team's facility in Sarasota, Fla.

But there's a reason they're there, manager Buck Showalter says.

You have to know your Orioles history.

It's the same reason Showalter demanded a homework assignment of Hart about one of those players that lines the clubhouse hallways.

Hart, a 2013 supplemental draft pick, gladly obliged, writing a one-page report on Frank Robinson on Monday night.

Showalter, during an appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" on Wednesday morning, gave the paper an "A-plus."

But more important than the grade, Showalter said, was Hart's new-found understanding of what Robinson has meant to the franchise.

"It's important that we realize there were some people that paved the way to have that strong fan base, the people that live and die with everything the Orioles do," Showalter said on "Mike & Mike." "There's not a city in America that loves their baseball team more than Baltimore.

"This should be a hero of his. It should be. And it is now. I guarantee you. He and the other guys now will know."

Showalter later admitted to feeling badly about the media attention garnered by the assignment, telling the Sun, "I actually feel bad right now, I really do."

Robinson made a spring-training appearance earlier in the day, and Hart had acknowledged to Showalter he didn't know who Robinson was.

"I said, 'You go home, you research it and you come back tomorrow and have it on my desk,' " Showalter said, according to The Baltimore Sun.

"He agreed to do it and kind of wanted to, too. That's what made me feel great, not just that he agreed to it but that he wanted to do it."

According to Hart, it was an easy assignment.

"I wasn't nervous at all, but I knew he was serious," said the 19-year-old Hart of Showalter, according to masnsports.com. "He's a serious man. He takes his job as strictly business and I respect that. Whatever he says, it's done, and that's a big plus. You've got to show him respect all the way.

"I took it as, I figured it was a compliment that he wanted me to do research. (Robinson) played for the Orioles and played in four World Series. That's just history down the line."

Hart said he learned quickly what role Robinson played in the history of the Orioles and of his wider importance to Major League Baseball.

"The kid actually said, 'Holy cow, I knew he was famous, but I didn't know how" Showalter told the Sun, "'He was rattling it off, said he needs more paper."

Robinson was visiting Sarasota to speak to the team, and Hart was walking by as Showalter and Robinson were heading out the door.

"I knew he was a Hall of Famer, but specifically, I didn't know anything about him, but I did my research and he's accomplished a lot," Hart said, according to the Mid-Atlantic Sports website. "To be a manager and player at the same time, a 14-time All-Star, win Most Valuable Player in the National League and American League, that's an accomplishment. That's walking proof that he's legendary."

And the fact that Hart now knows that makes Showalter happy he gave him the assignment.

"We have some pretty good history here in Baltimore, and I want our guys to not be a prisoner to the past," Showalter told "Mike & Mike." "These are the good ol' days. Sometimes, we spend so much time in the past and you honor those people because they meant so much to us. But I want these to be the good ol' days. I want them to be talking about Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones and Nick Markakis and Manny Machado and Matt Wieters and on and on. But you don't want to become a prisoner to it. You never confuse change with a lack of respect for tradition, so it's always a balancing act to not live in the past but also be respectful and realize there's some people that live and die with everything you do.

"Josh is a good prospect. He has a chance to be a really good player for us, and I think it helped him. I felt kind of bad that it got out there publicly. I didn't want to embarrass the young man; he's a good young man. But at the end of the day I think he's better for it."