American baseball player
Brooks Robinson was one of baseball's greatest third basemen. Many say that he single-handedly turned the Baltimore Orioles from a no-name team into a legitimate contender year after year. Off the field, Robinson was kind and gentle, a true ambassador of the game, while on the field he was known primarily for his fielding. Opposing teams would try and keep the ball away from him. He won sixteen consecutive Gold Gloves, played in 2,870 major league games in a career that spanned twenty-three years. Brooks Robinson is an integral part of baseball culture and a fixture in the minds of the people in Baltimore.
Brooks Robinson was born on May 18, 1937, in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of Brooks Calbert Robinson and Ethel Mae Robinson. His father was a firefighter and mother a homemaker. Oddly enough, the man who would become one of the best defensive infielders in baseball did not play much as a child. His high school
didn't have a team, and he was actually discovered while playing second base for his local church league.
The Early Years
Robinson started with the Baltimore Orioles in 1960. In his first season he hit .294, belted fourteen home runs, and drove in eighty-eight runs. He won his team's Most Valuable Player award, as well as receiving his first gold glove. He would miss winning the American League MVP and take third in the voting.
During his second season, his numbers improved. In 1961 he hit .303 and knocked twenty-three home runs. His offense, though never stellar, peaked during the 1964 season. He knocked in 118 runs (leading the league in RBIs), hit .317 and slugged twenty-eight homers. Even though it was only his fourth season and he would play ball for nineteen more years, these would be his offensive career highs. He garnered the Most Valuable Player award and was voted Major League Player of the Year by the Sporting News for his 1964 season.
Though his batting average would fluctuate during his long career, Robinson's fielding remained superb.
One Man Show
In 1970, Robinson had three career milestones: he collected his 2,000th hit, his 1,000th RBI and 200th home run. The Orioles would also make it into the World Series, again, but this time the fall classic would be referred to by many as "The Brooks Robinson Show." His bat got hot again, and his glove, always hot, would blaze.
Robinson made some of the most memorable plays in World Series history in 1970, many of which went to put down Cincinnati rallies. Reds relief pitcher Clay Carroll talked about one of his fielding plays as follows: "He was going toward the bullpen when he threw to first. His arm went one way, his body another, and his shoes another." Reds manager Sparky Anderson said that the Orioles didn't beat the Reds, Brooks Robinson beat the Cincinnati Reds. "I'm beginning to see Brooks in my sleep," he said. "If I dropped this paper plate, he'd pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first."
Hanging it Up
On August 21, 1977, the Orioles dropped Robinson from their roster. Rick Dempsey, coming off the disabled list, filled into the space and Robinson decided it was time to retire. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983, on the first ballot. It was a landslide election.
|1937||Born May 18 in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Brooks Calbert and Ethel Mae Robinson|
|1951||Plays baseball with local church team because high school has no baseball team|
|1955||Plays for the first time with the Orioles baseball system|
|1956-57||Attends Little Rock University (now University of Arkansas at Little Rock)|
|1958||Hits into first triple play of a record four for his career|
|1960||Goes 5-5, hitting for the cycle|
|1960||Marries Constance Louise Butcher on October 8|
|1962||Becomes 6th major leaguer to hit grand slams in back to back games|
|1963||Benched for poor hitting, streak of 463 straight games playing third base comes to a halt|
|1967||Plays in longest All-Star game, 15 innings (three hours and 41 minutes)|
|1970||Hits 2,000th major league hit, a three-run homer|
|1971||Ties World Series record by reaching base five straight times on three hits and two walks|
|1977||Retires from baseball|
|1978||Becomes color commentator for Orioles games|
|1979||Takes position as assistant to management for Crown Central Petroleum Corporation|
|1979||Works with Shapiro & Robinson, a consulting firm|
|1979||Becomes vice-president of Baltimore Orioles|
|1983||Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in landslide election|
For fifteen straight seasons, Robinson was the American League's starting All-Star third baseman. He led American League third basemen in assists eight times, and led in fielding eleven times. Robinson holds almost every lifetime record for third basemen, often by a large margin. He holds the records for most games played, for best fielding percentage (.971), most putouts (2,697), most assists (6,205), most chances (9,165) and most double plays (618).
His uniform, #5, was officially retired on opening day 1978. In 1999, Robinson was named to the ESPN All-Century Team, honoring the best twenty-five players in baseball during the 20th century.
At the end of the 1964 season, Washington Post columnist Shirley Povich wrote: "It is not quite proper to say that the Baltimore Orioles have brought Robinson's talents to notice with their resolute pennant rush. It is Robinson who has taken Baltimore to its present eminence."
Brooks Robinson's consistent superlative presence at the third base spot, year in, year out, is perhaps only a small reason that even today he's well known in baseball lore. He added a new dimension to the third base position, often forcing teams to change their plans if they'd wanted to bunt. He had skill and flare, and his highlight-reel playmaking took the Orioles from obscurity to a major presence in professional baseball. A truly generous and decent individual, everyone seemed to like Brooks, and no one said anything bad about him. With his wife Connie and their four children, he's a staple in the Baltimore area and more than a few people in Baltimore have named their children after Robinson.
As Robinson neared retirement, due to some naive business dealings, he was having financial difficulty, and the Orioles kept him on those last few seasons, in part, to help him out. When he finally left the playing field, he entered broadcasting. In addition to doing color commentary for the Baltimore Orioles, he also serves as vice-president of Personal Managment Associates, a company that provides athletes comprehensive counseling and support in their professional, financial, and personal lives. Robinson is also is a special assistant with the Crown Central Petroleum Company.
|BAL: Baltimore Orioles.|
Email: [email protected] Online: brooksrobinson.com.
SELECTED WRITINGS BY ROBINSON:
(With Fred Bauer) Putting It All Together, Hawthorn, 1971.
(With Jack Tobin) Third Base Is My Home, Word, Inc., 1974.
(With Fred T. Smith) Brooks Robinson's Baseball Quiz, privately printed, 1979.
(With Jerry Coleman, Ernie Harwell, Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, and Ned Martin) The Scouting Report: 1983, ed. by Marybeth Sullivan, Harper, 1983.
(With Dave Campbell, Denny Matthews, and Duke Snider) The Scouting Report: 1984, edited by Marybeth Sullivan, Harper, 1984.
(With Dave Campbell, Denny Matthews, and Duke Snider) The Scouting Report: 1985, ed. by Marybeth Sullivan, Harper, 1985.
(With Dave Campbell, Harmon Killebrew, and Duke Snider) The Scouting Report: 1986, ed. by Sullivan, Harper, 1986.
Awards and Accomplishments
|1960-74||American League All-Star Team|
|1960-75||American League Gold Glove Award|
|1964||American League most valuable player; Sporting News American League Player of the Year|
|1966||All-Star Game most valuable player|
|1970||World Series most valuable player; Hickok Belt|
|1977||Joe Cronin Award|
|1983||Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame|
|1999||MLB All-Century Team; Uniform number 5 retired by Baltimore Orioles|
(With Ted Patterson) The Baltimore Orioles: Four Decades of Magic from 33rd Street to Camden Yards, Taylor, 2000.
Davis, Mac. 100 Greatest Baseball Heroes. New York: Grosset, 1974.
Hirshberg, Al. Greatest American Leaguers. New York: Putnam, 1970.
Libby, Bill. Heroes of the Hot Corner. New York: Watts, 1972.
Peary, Danny, ed. We Played the Game: Memories of Baseball's Greatest Era. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Pub, 1994.
Robinson, Brooks, with Ted Patterson. The Baltimore Orioles: Four Decades of Magic from 33rd Street to Camden Yards. Taylor Publishers, 2000.
Robinson, Brooks, with Fred Bauer. Putting It All Together, Hawthorn, 1971.
Robinson, Brooks, with Jack Tobin. Third Base Is My Home. Word, Inc., 1974.
Robinson, Brooks, with Fred T. Smith. Brooks Robinson's Baseball Quiz, privately printed, 1979.
Robinson, Brooks, with Jerry Coleman, Ernie Harwell, Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, and Ned Martin. The Scouting Report: 1983, ed. by Marybeth Sullivan. New York: Harper Collins, 1983.
Robinson, Brooks, with Dave Campbell, Denny Matthews, and Duke Snider. The Scouting Report: 1984, edited by Marybeth Sullivan. New York: Harper Collins, 1984.
Robinson, Brooks, with Dave Campbell, Denny Matthews, and Duke Snider) The Scouting Report: 1985, ed. by Marybeth Sullivan. New York: HarperCollins, 1985.
Robinson, Brooks, with Dave Campbell, Harmon Killebrew, and Duke Snider) The Scouting Report: 1986. ed. by Marybeth Sullivan. New York: Harper Collins, 1986.
Zanger, Jack. The Brooks Robinson Story. New York: Messner, 1967.
Los Angeles Times (August 1, 1983).
National Observer (October 12, 1964).
News-American (Baltimore) (April 6, 1975).
Newsweek (February 3, 1971).
Newsweek (September 5, 1977).
New York Times (July 17, 1966).
New York Times (September 25, 1977).
New York Times (August 29, 1982).
New York Times (January 13, 1983).
New York Times (July 31, 1983).
New York Times (August 1, 1983).
O'Shea, Tim. "Tips on Third Base Defense Shared by Brooks Robinson. Baseball Digest (no. 6, 1995).
People (May 23, 1983).
Sport (June, 1972).
Sporting News (January 24, 1983).
Sporting News (August 1, 1983).
Time (October 26, 1970).
"Brooks Robinson." http://www.baseball-reference.com/ (November 10, 2002).
"Brooks Robinson." http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ (November 10, 2002).
"The Official Brooks Robinson Homepage." http://www.brooksrobinson.com/ (November 10, 2002).
Sketch by Eric Lagergren
"Robinson, Brooks." Notable Sports Figures. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/robinson-brooks
"Robinson, Brooks." Notable Sports Figures. . Retrieved February 22, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/robinson-brooks