Whether you want to or not, you do serve as a role model. People will always put more faith in baseball players than anyone else. ~ Brooks Robinson
One of my all-time favorite players, Brooks Robinson, “the Human Vacuum Cleaner,” turns 80 today! Robinson has always been loved by the community, as a 1964 Sports Illustrated article attests:
“Robinson’s warm personality wins him as much respect as his competitiveness and courage. He does nothing for effect. Bill Tanton, columnist for the Evening Sun, recalls the time he was on hand when Brooks went on a bowling party with some multiple sclerosis patients. ‘I’ve seen athletes in such situations before,’ Tanton says, ‘and the atmosphere is usually strained or even maudlin. But this time, everyone was at ease. You could tell Brooks was genuinely enjoying himself and, of course, they all adored him. He kidded them, and they kidded him right back—especially about his getting bald.'”
Robinson was an All-Star 18 times, won 16 gold gloves, won numerous other awards, and was even memorialized in a Norman Rockwell painting and highlighted in the Catholic Review. Not bad for a kid from Little Rock, AR.
A few years ago, I went on a pilgrimage to Little Rock to walk in the steps of the great Brooks Robinson. There were no big plaques or signs to let us know he’d grown up there. But what else would you expect from our quiet, unassuming here.
Happy Birthday, Brooks!
PS Check out the footage of Brooks at work:
And there’s this great comparison between Brooks and Manny:
Five is another important number in Orioles baseball history. Known as the “Human Vacuum Cleaner” and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983, third baseman Brooks Robinson remains one of Baltimore’s most beloved players. Brooks played for the O’s from 1955 to 1977. He was an All-Star 18 times, and was the MVP of the All-Star game in 1966. He was also AL MVP in 1966 and World Series MVP in 1970.The Orioles retired his number on April 14, 1978. Today Brooks can still be seen attending important Orioles events and is an owner of the independent Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
In August 2012, I visited Brooks’ hometown of Little Rock, AR, for the first time, seeing not only Lamar Porter Field, where he played during his youth, but also his alma mater, Little Rock Senior High School (later named Little Rock Central High School). It was pretty cool seeing where one of my idols came from. Although there were no big Brooks Robinson statues there like we have in Baltimore and York, PA. But maybe they’ll have one some day. After all, he’s that important.
I’ve written previously about Bobble Mania and my Bobble Quests. Recently, however, minor league teams have added a new one: The Gnome Quest. This evening, the Bowie Baysox had a Manny Machado gnome giveaway for the first 1,000 fans. From the line outside the stadium more than an hour before the game started, it would appear it was a hit. (Yes, I was in that line.)
It’s not surprising, then, that we like to collect all things Manny. This year alone, the Baysox have had three Manny-related giveaways: the Manny Machado bobblehead, the Manny Machado t-shirt, and, now, the Manny Machado Garden Gnome.
Not only do baseball fans love giveaways, we love Machado giveaways. I think this video from the Bowie Baysox pretty much proves it:
Ever been to Hot Springs, Arkansas? Me neither. But Brooks Robinson has – as well as Babe Ruth, Cool Papa Bell, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Monte Irvin, Jackie Robinson, and other baseball greats. But why Hot Springs? And why Arkansas? A few weeks ago I promised to get back to you on that question. But I had to do more research. You see, I have to admit I used to confuse Hot Springs with Warm Springs (though, in my defense, FDR did visit Hot Springs at least once). But once I heard about the Hot Springs Baseball Trail, I knew I needed to learn more.