Baltimore Orioles: The Popularity of Brooks Robinson

Courtesy of Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Courtesy of Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /

Is Brooks Robinson the most popular player in the history of the Baltimore Orioles? In my opinion he is, however what do you think and why?

Baltimore Orioles’ great Brooks Robinson celebrated his 79th birthday this past week. Anyone who’s ever followed the Birds knows who Robinson is, and his effect on baseball. There’s a guy named Schmidt who was pretty decent at the hot corner up the road in Philadelphia as well – but for my money Brooksie’s the greatest third baseman of all time.

If you don’t believe me, his 16 consecutive gold gloves will convince you. Schmidt had nine – which mind you is an unbelievable feat – but Robinson’s 16 STRAIGHT gold gloves ends the discussion in my view. The knock on Robinson is that Schmidt had better numbers at the plate, and he did. However the “greatest ever” discussion in my view is primarily a defensive one when it comes to a position like third base. All of this is debatable – this is just my view.

But here’s an interesting point; has there ever been a more popular player in Baltimore than Brooks Robinson? I’m of the generation that grew up with the Ripkens, Murray’s, Dempsey’s, and later the Anderson’s of the world. But I can tell you that my Dad, my Uncles, and most relatives of their generation idolized Brooks. And not just for his prowess on the field, but because of who he is.

First baseman Jim Gentile was the first big “star” after the Orioles came to Baltimore. My Dad remembers him well, and they loved watching him play. But Robinson was of a totally different quality to anyone who had ever played in Birdland. Furthermore, he seemed to understand what he meant to the community in which he played. There are a lot of current Orioles who seem to get that now, but on many teams that’s just not the case.

Furthermore there’s no more humble of a man or an ambassador for the Orioles or the game of baseball than Brooks Robinson. That plays a big role – the fact that he’s a humble person of strong character, and that he was a superstar. You never hear a cross word uttered about Robinson, and that’s not necessarily true of a lot of former and current players.

However it goes further than that. He helped put Baltimore on the map. The city itself is well-documented as having the appearance of being a stop-over between New York and Washington. When Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts won the NFL Title in 1958, it put the city on the map in a sense. Brooks Robinson, his humble persona, and his golden glove at third base did exactly the same thing.

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There are a lot of players beloved by Orioles fans. Some are the usual suspects, and some are more unsung players. However I would submit that there’s no player who’s more beloved by Orioles fans of all ages than Brooks Robinson. He set the standard for all future stars, including those of today.

On that note, players of today all look to Robinson as the standard-bearer in terms of being a star in Baltimore. Today’s players follow his example by serving in the community and helping the people that live here. And that makes a world of difference in people’s minds.

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