Known as “The Human Vacuum Cleaner,” Brooks Robinson is regarded as arguably the best defensive third-baseman the game has ever seen – he could make even the most difficult of plays look routine.
Hall of Famer Frank Robinson recalled what it was like to watch his teammate go to work: “He was the best defensive player at any position. I used to stand in the outfield like a fan and watch him make play after play. I used to think, ‘WOW, I can’t believe this.’ ”
Robinson began his career with the Baltimore Orioles, the only team he ever played for, in 1955, and for 23 years dazzled fans on the field with his glove. Off the field, he was humble and gracious. Joe Falls of The Detroit News pondered “How many interviews, how many questions — how many times you approached him and got only courtesy and decency in return. A true gentleman who never took himself seriously. I always had the idea he didn’t know he was Brooks Robinson.”
In total, the 18-time All-Star and winner of a record 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards led the Orioles to six post-seasons including two World Series Championships. In 1964, Robinson took home American League MVP honors, putting up the finest offensive season of his career, leading the league with 118 RBI. In 1966, he won the All-Star Game MVP Award despite the American League losing the game, and in 1970, was named the World Series MVP where he batted .429 with two home runs and six RBI.
Robinson retired after the 1977 season and the Orioles wasted no time in retiring his number 5. The Orioles played their last game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium on October 6, 1991. At the game’s conclusion, some of the team’s all-time greats were invited to take the field at their position during the closing ceremonies. The first player called to take the field was Brooks Robinson.
He was so beloved in Baltimore that sports writer Gordon Beard wrote “Brooks (Robinson) never asked anyone to name a candy bar after him. In Baltimore, people named their children after him.”