It was with deep sadness that I read that the great Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson passed away recently at the age of 86. He is considered one of the greatest defensive third basemen of all time and was known as the “human vacuum cleaner” for his stellar fielding at the hot corner. He was the American League MVP in 1964, hitting .317 with 28 homers and 118 RBIs.
But his death brought back memories of my contact with him in 1957.
I was working out with the Orioles at Yankee Stadium, before being signed to a minor league contract, when I was told to warm up with a young player by the name of Brooks Robinson, who was not yet a regular starter.
While we were warming up, some kids were at the railing near us, asking for our autographs. Brooks said to me, “Let’s give them our autographs.” I wasn’t on the team roster, but he said, “They don’t know that. You’re wearing an Orioles uniform.” So there I went, both of us, signing our autographs for these kids.
So someone, somewhere, has my autograph next to Brooks Robinson’s.
I ended up playing for Phoenix, Arizona, and later becoming a lawyer and not a professional baseball player. But I’ll never forget my interlude with the legendary Brooks Robinson, who, in the words of Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, “I will always remember Brooks as a true gentleman who represents our game extraordinarily well on and off the field all his life.”
I certainly agree with that accolade.
A statue of Brooks Robinson was unveiled at the Baltimore Orioles stadium, Camden Yards, in 2012.
One fine body…