Baltimore, September 27, 2023 – Baltimore, a city steeped in sports history with iconic figures like Johnny Unitas, Cal Ripken, and Jim Palmer, boasts a name that resonates through generations: Brooks Robinson. A banquet celebrating the retirement of Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson in 1977 showcased the deep admiration and affection Baltimore had for their sports hero, and this love continues to endure.
Sportswriter Gordon Beard, among the many who paid tribute that night, noted, “In New York, they named a candy bar [The Reggie Bar] after Reggie Jackson. Here in Baltimore, we name our children after Brooks Robinson.” Indeed, Brooks Robinson’s legacy in Baltimore extends far beyond his remarkable career as a baseball player.
Robinson’s impact as a player was immense. During his illustrious 23-year career, he collected numerous accolades, including 16 Gold Gloves, the American League Most Valuable Player award in 1964, 18 All-Star selections, and a record-breaking 2,848 hits. His clutch hitting prowess and durability made him a true legend of the game.
But what truly set Robinson apart was his extraordinary defensive skills. His methodical approach to fielding, calm demeanor, and exceptional reflexes at third base made him the finest defensive third baseman in baseball history. Robinson’s barehanded catches and flawless throws were textbook examples of how to play the position. His defensive brilliance shone brightest during the 1970 World Series against the Reds, where he made a series of spectacular plays earning him the nickname, “The Human Vacuum Cleaner.”
Former teammates and opponents alike attested to his greatness and character. Frank Robinson, a former teammate, reflected, “I’ve never known anyone in any profession more adored than Brooks. We’d go on road trips, and he’d stop on the street to talk to total strangers. It’s amazing that he was that good a player and that nice to everyone he met.”
Beyond his on-field achievements, Robinson’s kindness and generosity left an indelible mark. He actively participated in charitable endeavors throughout his career, including his involvement with BAT (Baseball Assistance Team), which provided aid to former players in need. When Robinson faced financial hardships due to business ventures, the people of Baltimore rallied behind him, a testament to the reciprocal love and respect he had for his community.
Robinson’s connection with fans remained strong throughout his life. He participated in the Orioles’ fantasy camp, where fans cherished the opportunity to play alongside him, even into his late 60s. His impact on individuals was so profound that many chose to name their children after him, a testament to his lasting legacy.
As we celebrate the enduring legacy of Brooks Robinson, it’s clear that he wasn’t just a baseball legend but also a beloved figure whose kindness and generosity continue to inspire generations. In Baltimore, his name will forever be synonymous with greatness, on and off the field.