The baseball world is in mourning as Brooks Robinson, the legendary third baseman who spent his entire illustrious 23-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career with the Baltimore Orioles, has passed away at the age of 86. Robinson, affectionately known as ‘Mr. Oriole’ was a renown icon of the sport, celebrated not only for his outstanding games on the ground but also for his sportsmanship.
Brooks Robinson Career:
Robinson’s impact on baseball was immense, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his condolences, stating, “All of us at Major League Baseball are saddened by the loss of Brooks Robinson, one of the greats of our National Pastime and a legend of the Baltimore Orioles.” Manfred highlighted Robinson’s exceptional defensive skills, his two World Series championships, his 1964 American League MVP award, and his remarkable achievement of winning 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards at third base.
Brooks Robinson’s connection with the Orioles ran deep, and the team, in conjunction with Robinson’s family, released a statement acknowledging his profound influence on the franchise and the sport itself. His impact extended beyond his playing days, as he continued to contribute to the game by working with the MLB Players Alumni Association.
Robinson’s nickname, “The Human Vacuum Cleaner,” was a testament to his exceptional defensive prowess at third base. His 16 Gold Glove Awards remain a record for any non-pitcher in baseball history and are tied for the second most by any player, alongside pitcher Jim Kaat. Only Greg Maddux has 18.
Throughout his career, Brooks Robinson was an 18-time All-Star, a two-time World Series champion (in 1966 and 1970), and the MVP of the 1970 Fall Classic. In 1983, he was rightfully inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, becoming the first third baseman to be elected in his first year of eligibility.
Born on May 18, 1937, in Little Rock, Arkansas, Robinson’s journey to becoming a baseball legend began when he signed with the Orioles for a modest sum of $4,000 in 1955 at the age of 18. While his early years saw him spend time in the Minor Leagues and contend with injuries, Robinson eventually solidified his place as a cornerstone of the Orioles’ lineup for nearly two decades.
Brooks Robinson’s breakout season came in 1960 when he earned his first All-Star selection and his initial Gold Glove. He continued to shine, earning All-Star honors every year through 1974 and winning Gold Gloves through 1975.
While Robinson was more than capable with the bat, it was his incredible fielding that left fans and fellow players in awe. The late Frank Robinson, another Hall of Famer and Orioles legend, once marveled at his defensive prowess, declaring him the best defensive player at any position.
Brooks Robinson’s contributions to the Orioles were pivotal during their successful years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, leading the team to its first two World Series championships in 1966 and 1970. In the latter, he had a standout performance, going 9-for-21 with two doubles, two home runs, five runs scored, and six RBIs in a five-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.
As the 1970s progressed, Robinson’s playing time decreased, eventually transitioning to a player-coach role in 1977. He officially retired at the age of 40, but his connection with the Orioles endured. In 1978, the team retired his jersey number, 5, in his honor. He also served as a color commentator for the Orioles’ television broadcasts from 1978 to 1992.
Robinson’s love for Maryland was unwavering, and he continued to reside there with his wife, Connie, whom he met on an Orioles team flight in 1959. Together, they had four children. Despite health challenges in his later years, including successful treatment for prostate cancer and injuries, Brooks Robinson remained connected to the Orioles. In 2012, a statue of him was unveiled in Legends Park at Camden Yards, commemorating his legacy.
The Orioles frequently invited Brooks Robinson back for special events, honoring his contributions to the team and the city. His humble nature endeared him to fans, and he left an indelible mark not only on the Orioles but also on the sport of baseball.
Robinson’s legacy will continue to inspire generations of baseball fans, and his memory will live on as a true gentleman who embodied excellence, durability, loyalty, and winning baseball on and off the field.