It didn't matter where the ball was hit, if Brooks Robinson was anywhere in the vicinity, he would scoop it up and rob the batter of a hit. For 23 seasons, Robinson was the anchor in the infield of the Baltimore Orioles, and after his playing days were over, he was still synonymous with his careerlong team as a television broadcaster.
Baseball was Robinson's life, and so were the Orioles. He signed with The Birds right after graduating high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, and he never left. He joined the team in 1960, and soon began racking up accomplishment after accomplishment and record after record.
“Baseball is the only thing I have ever done in my life,” he said in 1969, “and it is the only thing I have ever loved.”
Here are just some of the reasons that Robinson remains one of Baltimore's most beloved professional athletes:
- Was an 18-time all-star
- Won the Gold Glove award for fielding 16 years in a row
- Named American League MVP in 1964
- Played a record 2,870 games at third base
- Had 2,848 hits and 268 home runs
- Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1983, the first year he was eligible. He got almost 92 percent of the votes.
- Was the MVP of the 1970 World Series when the Orioles beat the Cincinnati Reds in five games. He was also at third base when his team beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games in the 1966 Series.
Robinson's ability to reach any ball that came his way and make clutch catches at pivotal moments earned him the nickname "the Human Vacuum Cleaner."
Given his extraordinary accomplishments and longevity, Robinson could well have become full of himself, spoiled by his fame. Nothing could be further from the truth.