Brooks Calbert Robinson, Jr. (born May 18, 1937 in Little Rock, Arkansas) is an American former third baseman in Major League Baseball. He played his entire 23-year career with the Baltimore Orioles (1955–77). Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.
Robinson grew up to play third base for the Orioles, and gained great renown for his fielding ability. Nicknamed "The Human Vacuum Cleaner", he is generally acclaimed as the greatest defensive third-baseman of all time. He won 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards during his career, tied with pitcher Jim Kaat for the second most all-time for any player at any position. He was also a productive hitter who in his best season offensively (1964) hit 28 home runs and led the league with 118 runs batted in.
In 1964, Robinson won both the American League MVP and All-Star Game MVP awards. In the AL MVP voting, he received 18 of the 20 first-place votes, with Mickey Mantle finishing second. Robinson was selected for the All-Star team in 15 consecutive years (1960-74). He also played in four World Series. In 1970, he received the World Series MVP Award presented by SPORT magazine, as well as the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year. After the 1970 World Series, Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson quipped, "I'm beginning to see Brooks in my sleep. If I dropped this paper plate, he'd pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first."
In his playing career, Robinson compiled a .267 batting average with 2,848 hits, 268 home runs and 1357 RBI. His Number 5 was retired by the Orioles at the conclusion of the 1977 season, his last. His 23 seasons with one team set a new major league record, since tied by Carl Yastrzemski.
Robinson also hit into four triple plays during his career, a major league record. He commented, "I wouldn't mind seeing someone erase my record of hitting into four triple plays."
When the Orioles started their team Hall of Fame, Brooks and Frank Robinson were the first two men inducted. Following his retirement as a player, Robinson began a successful career as a color commentator for the Orioles' television broadcasts. In 1982, local television WMAR's on air newsteam in Baltimore, Maryland went on strike and picketed the WMAR headquarters for the two months approaching the baseball season. When Robinson refused to cross the picket line, WMAR management re-opened the negotiations and the strike ended the next day.
Considered among the greatest all-time Orioles, Robinson and the man usually considered the greatest Baltimore Colt football player, Johnny Unitas, had plaques in their honor in the lobby of Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. When the Orioles played their last game there on October 6, 1991, Brooks and Unitas were invited to throw out the ceremonial first balls. (Unitas threw a football.) After the conclusion of the game, several Oriole players took the field in the uniforms of their time and stood at their old positions on the field, Brooks was chosen to be the first player to come out (Cal Ripken, Jr. was chosen to be the last). Throughout his Major League career he won 16 Gold Glove awards.
In the 1970s, Robinson published his autobiography entitled "Third Base is My Home." The book is notorious for the story about how he met his future wife. She was a flight attendant on an Orioles team flight, and he was so smitten with her, he kept ordering iced teas from her until he eventually ended up helping her in the galley.
In 1999, he ranked Number 80 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
A longtime supporter of Scouting, Robinson served for many years on the executive board of the Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scouts of America and is a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award. On December 5, 2006 he was recognized for his accomplishments on and off of the field when he received the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. On May 16, 2007, Radio Tower Drive, a road in Pikesville, Maryland was renamed "Brooks Robinson Drive" in honor of Robinson's 70th birthday.
On July 2, 2008, the minor league team in York, Pennsylvania, where Robinson got his start, held a ceremony honoring him for being voted as a member on the All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team. The award was created by Rawlings and voted by fans to celebrate the golden anniversary of the award.
Brooks Robinson started his career at Lamar Porter Field, a neighborhood baseball field in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In 2008, Brooks released a charity wine called Brooks Robinson Chardonnay with all of his proceeds donated to the Baltimore Community Foundation in a fund created in the name of Brooks and his wife Connie Robinson.
Brooks Robinson currently serves as president of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA), an organization that assists players and fans to interact off the field. MLB legends Bob Boone, George Brett, Chuck Hinton, Mike Hegan, Robin Yount, Rusty Staub, Carl Erskine and Al Kaline preside as Vice Presidents. As well as the non-profit missions of the MLBPAA, the organization assists former major-leaguers through its wholly owned for-profit organizations MLAM (Major League Alumni Marketing), and MLAS (Major League Alumni Services). MLAM goals include implementing a player pool and gaining compensation for former players through appearances and endorsements, while protecting the name and likeness of former players from unauthorized uses.
Robinson is one of the investors in the Opening Day Partners group, of which owns four teams in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The group named the Brooks Robinson Plaza at the entrance of Sovereign Bank Stadium in York, Pennsylvania in his honor.
Perhaps the greatest accolades he received as a player came from his opponents. After the 1970 World Series upon seeing him receive his World Series MVP award ceremony in which he received a brand new Toyota as part of his award, Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench said, "Gee! If we had known he wanted a new car that bad, we'd have chipped in and bought him one."
"I'm beginning to see Brooks (Robinson) in my sleep. If I dropped a paper plate, he'd pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first." - Sparky Anderson
"That kid plays third base like he came down from a higher league." - Umpire Ed Runge
"Brooks never had a candy bar named after him. In Baltimore, people named their children after him." - Gordon Beard
"Very nice (play)...where do they plug Mr. Hoover in?" - Lee May