Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#150 Brooks Robinson

Brooksie! It's hard to beat back-to-back Hall of Fame contemporaries with Baltimore ties who played their entire 20-plus year careers in one city.

Fun facts about Brooks Robinson:

-Brooks was born in Little Rock, AR and signed with the Orioles in 1955.

-He hit .331 with a .489 slugging percentage for the Class B York (PA) White Roses to earn a September callup to the majors in his first pro season. He's fond of telling the story of his debut on September 17, 1955. Getting the start at third base, the 18-year-old went 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 3-1 win over the Senators. He called home and bragged to his parents that he didn't know why the O's hadn't promoted him sooner. He then proceeded to go 0-for-18 with 10 strikeouts for the remainder of the season!

-After injuries, offensive struggles, and a few returns to the minor leagues, Brooks finally enjoyed a measure of success in 1960. He batted .294 with 27 doubles, 9 triples, 14 home runs and 88 RBI. He led the Orioles in doubles, triples, and batting average, as well as runs scored (74). That year he made the first couple of his 18 career All-Star appearances, and won the first of his record 16 Gold Gloves for his extraordinary play at third base.

-His best single-season performance came in 1964, when he set career highs with a .317 average, .368 on-base percentage, .521 slugging percentage, 145 OPS+, 28 home runs, and an American League-best 118 RBI. He breezed by Mickey Mantle in MVP voting, becoming the first Oriole to win the honor.

-Over the years, Robinson participated in nine postseason series with the Birds, accumulating a .303 average in 39 games. He totaled 17 runs scored, 8 doubles, 5 home runs, and 22 RBI. One of those homers came off of Don Drysdale in Game 1 of the 1966 World Series, and gave the O's a 3-0 lead in a game they won 5-2.

-Brooksie's 1970 postseason gets its own bullet point. He went 7-for-12 (.583) with a couple doubles and a pair of RBI in Baltimore's 3-game ALCS sweep over the Twins. For an encore, he was named MVP of the World Series. He was 9-for-21 (.429) with 5 runs scored, 2 doubles, 2 homers, and 6 RBI, and frustrated the Reds with a number of acrobatic plays at the hot corner. He earned the nickname "Hoover" for his glovework, and prompted Johnny Bench to quip, "If we had known he wanted a new car that bad, we'd have chipped in and bought him one".

-He set a big league record (tied by Carl Yastrzemski) by playing his entire 23-year career with one team. Though his bat faltered in his last few seasons, he gave Oriole fans one last thrill with a pinch-hit, walk-off three-run homer off of Cleveland's Dave LaRoche on April 19, 1977. It was his first walk-off home run in five years, and the final four-bagger of his career.

-Brooks retired in August 1977 with a .267 career average, 482 doubles, 268 home runs, and 1,357 RBI. He is still the career leader at third base in games played, putouts, total zone runs, assists, and range factor per nine innings. Of course, he also holds a record for grounding into triple plays, having managed the regrettable feat four times.

-The Orioles retired his #5 at the end of the 1977 season, and he and Frank Robinson are the charter members of the Orioles Hall of Fame. He was a first-ballot inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.

-Robinson has stayed active. He spent several years as a color analyst on Orioles' TV broadcasts, and is currently the president of the MLB Players Alumni Association, which promotes interaction between retired players and fans as well as assisting former major leaguers financially and legally. He is also an investor in Opening Day Partners, which owns four independent minor league clubs in the Atlantic League. One of those teams, the York Revolution, named a plaza at the entrance to their stadium in his honor. There is also a statue there depicting Brooks as a member of the York White Roses.



  1. Best card yet!!!! Brooks is one of a kind.

  2. Also a street named after him in york (it is basically the parking lot so the team could use the address 5 Brooks Robinson Plaza)