We here at Birds Watcher are thrilled to be able to wish Brooks Robinson a happy 86th birthday. Robinson is one of the greatest baseball players ever to wear an Orioles uniform. His #5 is one of just five numbers to be retired by a historic Baltimore Orioles franchise (42 was the sixth number retired when MLB retired the number from all of baseball).
Robinson made his major league debut with the Orioles on September 17, 1955, at just 18 years of age. In that game he went 2-4 with one RBI in an Orioles 3-1 win over the Washington Senators. Robinson went on to play parts of 23 seasons in the major leagues, all with the Orioles, retiring after the 1977 season at 40 years of age.
Robinson is one of the greatest third baseman of all time. Robinson had a .267/.322/.401 career slash line with 2,848 hits, 268 home runs, 1,357 RBI's and 1,232 runs scored. All of this was good enough for a .723 OPS and 105 OPS+. Robinson ranks in the all-time top 20 among third basemen in hits (3), RBI's (6), runs (8), home runs (18) and WAR 78.4 (8).
As good as Robinson was offensively, he was most known for his defensive prowess. Nicknamed the Human Vacuum Cleaner, Robinson set a major league record by winning 16 consecutive gold gloves from 1960-1975. Robinson retired with a .971 career fielding percentage, which was best among third basemen at the time, and currently sits fifth in history.
Robinson's best individual year was his MVP season of 1964. In 163 games that season he hit .317/.368/.521 with 28 home runs and an American League leading 118 RBI's. That started a three-year run in which Robinson finished first, third and second in AL MVP voting. Overall, Robinson garnered MVP votes in 12 seasons, finishing in the top four vote getters in five years.
Brooks was a key member of the 1966 and 1970 World Championship teams in Baltimore, and the 1969 and 1971 American League champions. Robinson was the 1970 World Series MVP when he had nine hits, two home runs, six RBI's and scored five runs while helping the O's beat Cincinnati's Big Red Machine four games to one. Robinson was so dominant in that series that Hall of Fame Reds Manager Sparky Anderson was later quoted saying "I'm beginning to see Brooks in my sleep. If I dropped a paper plate, he'd pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first."
During his career Robinson was an 18-time all-star and he received the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award in 1972. In 1983, Brooks Robinson was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility when he received 91.83% of votes. In 1999, Robinson was elected to the all-century team as one of two third basemen, alongside Mike Schmidt. Robinson has continued to be a fixture in Baltimore and still makes an occasional appearance at Orioles games where he receives a hero's welcome. Happy birthday Mr. Robinson.