There are certain players from the past who transcend generations such as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, etc. We all have heard about them, but never have seen them play, save for a few clips. On Tuesday, baseball lost one of those players in Brooks Robinson, a legend at third base for the Baltimore Orioles.
I heard of his passing on Wednesday morning. In fact, I heard it from a Facebook post by Mike Rowe. He wrote an amazing piece of his love affair with Robinson’s play and the position of third base in general. It’s a must read. He talked about the encounter he had with him and how they talked about moments they will never forget.
Brooks Robinson and his impact on the Baltimore Orioles and baseball
I never had the pleasure of watching him play … at least what I can remember. What I do remember was seeing the clip when he stole extra bases away from Lee May on what was the greatest play by a third baseman I have ever seen. I had to watch the play four or five times before I was sure he got him out on the throw!
18 All Star games, 16 Gold Gloves (in a row!), AL MVP in 1964 and two-time World Series champion. The honors for the Baltimore Orioles legend read like someone who was larger than life at third … and he was! No wonder he had the nickname, “The Human Vacuum Cleaner.”
Not to be overlooked are his offensive contributions. Six seasons, he had 20 or more home runs. Two seasons over 100 RBI to go along with a .267 lifetime average. Those numbers may seem pedestrian by today’s standards, but in the 1960s when you’re facing the likes of Luis Tiant, Dean Chance (just look at his 1964 season) and Denny McClain, it was certainly an accomplishment.
Brooks and Baltimore go together perfectly. This next quote, taken directly from his official Hall of Fame page said: He was so beloved in Baltimore that sports writer Gordon Beard wrote: “Brooks (Robinson) never asked anyone to name a candy bar after him. In Baltimore, people named their children after him.” When you play 23 seasons in front of the same crowd in the same city, you become an institution. It is well known that Brooks was a humble and gracious human being. He would always take the time to talk with fans, shake hands, and sign autographs. He never thought of himself as a celebrity…he was just Brooks.. and the city loved him for it.”
I’m hoping right now somewhere, there’s a game going on. Penciled in at third base is a guy wearing number 5. The crowd is chanting “Brooksie, Brooksie.” There’s a smash down the line … Robinson snags it. Throw to first … out!