Mike Robbins, a former Oakland hills resident and former Skyline High baseball star, will appear at a Friday book reading at A Great Good Place for Books
Mike Robbins, a former Oakland hills resident and former Skyline High baseball star, will appear at a Friday book reading at A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair Village.

OAKLAND -- Mike Robbins grew up in Oakland with Major League Baseball dreams.

Those dreams ended when Robbins blew out his pitching arm. An up-and-down stint in the dot.com world followed. But never one to wallow in despair, Robbins went on to establish himself as a respected motivational speaker and coach and noted author.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Robbins will appear at A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave., in Montclair Village, to promote his latest book, "Nothing Changes Until You Do," and perhaps touch on some other subjects.

Robbins, the author of two previous books -- "Focus on the Good Stuff" (published in 2007) and "Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken" (2009) -- speaks fondly of his late mother, Lois Robbins, in "Nothing Changes Until You Do."

"The first and last chapter are about my mom, who died of lung cancer in 2011, and a lot of the lessons she taught me when she was sick and dying," Robbins said. "The last (chapter) is about when she was getting close to the end. (The lesson was) that we're all going to die, and that a lot of the things that we lose sleep over and stress about are not that important in the bigger scheme of things."

Friday night's appearance by Robbins further honors his mother's memory as A Great Good Place for Books owner Kathleen Caldwell was a close friend of Lois Robbins.

"I grew up down the road from Montclair in the Glenview District, and I delivered the Montclarion, actually," said Robbins, who lives in Novato with wife Michelle, and daughters Samantha and Rosie. "My sister (Lori) still lives in the neighborhood where we grew up, so Montclair still feels like home to me."


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During their Glenview days, Lois Robbins raised Mike, now 40, and Lori -- whose is four years older -- as a single mother. Mike Robbins also credits his mom, a former PE teacher, for teaching him how to play baseball.

Those lessons went extremely well. After completing his studies at Montera Middle School, Robbins moved on to Skyline High, where he played baseball as a left-handed pitcher, first under current Bishop O'Dowd coach Chris Kyriacou -- "he and I are still good friends," Robbins said -- and then Anthony Sanchez.

But Robbins did more than just impress his high school coaches. Drafted by the Yankees upon graduation from Skyline in 1992, Robbins instead opted to bring his game to Stanford University.

Upon arrival to "The Farm," Robbins's time at Skyline High School came into greater focus in ways that transcended baseball.

"I had a great time at Skyline; interesting diversity," Robbins said.

"When I went to Stanford, it became clear that my high school experience was different (than that of many fellow students -- some of whom went to prep schools in New England). In a lot of ways, it made me appreciate (Skyline) that much more."

"Nothing Changes Until You Do" is the new book by Mike Robbins, a former Oakland hills resident and baseball star. Robbins devotes part of the
"Nothing Changes Until You Do" is the new book by Mike Robbins, a former Oakland hills resident and baseball star. Robbins devotes part of the book to his late mother, Lois Robbins.

At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Robbins also continued his success as a pitcher. As a junior in 1995, he appeared in the College World Series, and the Kansas City Royals selected him in that year's draft. Robbins signed with the Royals and played in their farm system until a sore left arm ended his career in 1998.

Fortunately for Robbins, the dot.com boom was at its peak. But in the vein of the California Gold Rush, the boom eventually turned to bust, and Robbins found himself unemployed again.

"A mentor of mine asked me what I wanted to do," Robbins said. "I said I wanted to write, I wanted to speak and I wanted to motivate people. My wife was very supportive and told me to go for it."

And go for it, Robbins did, becoming motivational speaker and coach, his full-time business since 2001.

His lengthy list of clients includes the Gap, Wells Fargo, Google, Twitter, the San Francisco Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Microsoft and the National Basketball Association.

But for Robbins, it all started in Oakland. And when he returns, as will be the case in Friday's visit to A Great Good Place for Books, it will all come full circle.

"(My mom) also instilled a love of books in me and my sister, and was a huge fan of books, bookstores and author events," Robbins said.

IF YOU GO
What: Mike Robbins, former Oakland hills resident and Skyline High baseball star who is now a successful motivational author and speaker, will read from his new book, "Nothing Changes Until You Do."
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave., Montclair Village, Oakland
Information: http://www.ggpbooks.com/ and www.mike-robbins.com.