The photographers wanted them to move closer to each other and to shake hands. As they did, Frank Robinson almost whispered to Maury Wills: "We're makin' history."
"Indeed we are," Wills said.
Five minutes later, the posing done, they resumed what had caused that ceremonial picture. Robinson walked back toward the San Francisco dugout and Wills toward the Seattle dugout; major-league baseball, at last, was conscious enough for two black managers, and this day they were going at one another for the first time.
"The first thing I did at Cleveland," said Robinson, his mind drifting back six years, to his being the first black manager, "was to ask if I could bring Maury Wills to spring training for two weeks. He'd been making the rounds coaching base running, but I knew he could do so much more.
"So I told him not to limit his time to teaching my players how to run the bases. I told him to feel free, like he was one of the coaches.Yes, I would have loved to have had him as a full-time coach. But I couldn't afford him. He was doing television at the time, and I wouldn't embarrass him by asking him to work for that sort of salary cut."
Robinson was implying that baseball had gotten its black managerial priorities turned around with he and Wills, that Maury should have come first. And that some others should have come long before Wills.
During his 21-year career in the majors, Robinson was asked, who were the black players he considered most qualified to manage?
"You don't have enough paper to write down all the names," he said, laughing but not being funny. He volunteered Wills.
"A self-made player," Robinson said. "A little man successful in a big man's game. A man who knew his capabilities and who never tried to play outside them. He did what he had to do."
Robinson and Wills are trying to make do with two of baseball's sad teams, fundamentally awful and awful fundamentally. The Mariners all but tied a bright bow around the six-run lead the Giants carried into the top of the ninth Monday. The Giants still found a way to lose.
They botched a double-play grounder near second and allowed Seattle to tie the game before anyone made out. The Mariners scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly, seven times in all before the sleeping Giants stirred.
Ironically, Robinson and Wills were sharing their historic moment at a time when the percentage of black major-league players is at its lowest in 10 years.
"It isn't the only way out any more," Robinson said. "Baseball used to be the only way out, socially and financially. Now a kid has other chances, such as college. And football and basketball. It takes longer to get to the big leagues than it does to the NFL or NBA. Or so lots of kids now think. Many of them think about all those years in the minors and just don't want to take the chance.
"So they chose the other sports. Or the non baseball alternatives."
As a recycled manager, Robinson is both stricter and more relaxed.
"There are more rules here than Cleveland," he said. "There, I thought I was dealing with major league players, whether they were 18 or 31. I felt they could, and would, handle themselves properly. I was wrong."
Longtime Robinson watchers are pleased that he seems more at ease with the Giants than he did with the Indians. Outwardly at least. He was patient as reporter after reporter approached with essentially the same angle in mind, and even treated a baseball bat as an imaginary banjo between television interviews.
It was strum-along-with-Frank as he moved from one setup position to another, although he refused to sing. "Oops, take two," he would chirp when a camera angle needed to be changed during one of his answers.
"I can be myself," he said later, "because this is a different situation. I don't feel I have the pressure to win here immediately. There are other things I can do, besides point to the won-lost record, and say I am a good manager.
"The way we execute, for instance. The way we go about playing the game. And our attitude. It's 100 percent better now than it was. The glayers understand me. And I understand players better."
Robinson thought a bit about his days as an Oriole player, when he was the mop-wigged judge in a nonsensical court dispensing goodhearted justice for assorted sins after victories, and said: "It's necessary to enjoy what you're doing. You can't do something day in and day out and be afraid."
He was both stern and silly within minutes.
As Coach Don Buford tried to slip a curve past Mike Ivie during batting practice, Robinson bellowed: "They never change. They all want to be pitchers, even if the only time they ever saw the mound before was running by it on the way to the outfield."
To Ivie, on whom much depends this season, Robinson snapped three pitches later: "Okay, you've had it your way. Now do it right. Lay back. Do it right here and you'll do it right in a game."
As an honest answer to a question about the difference between how the Dodgers and Orioles approached baseball fundamentals. Robinson said the Dodgers were overrated in that area, adding; "Willie Davis never hit a cutoff man in his life. In '72, when I was there, I worked on two cutoff plays from the outfield (during spring training) and that was it."
Later, somebody mentioned that perhaps the time will come when Robinson is seen not in pioneer terms but as just another manager.
"I don't think," he said, enjoying himself now, "that it's possible for me to be just another anything."