© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sep 24, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Hall of Fame member and former Baltimore Orioles player Brooks Robinson waves to the crowd prior to a game between the Orioles and the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Jam
By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – Brooks Robinson, a virtuoso third baseman who was known as “The Human Vacuum Cleaner” because of his defensive prowess at the position during a Hall of Fame career spent entirely with Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, died on Tuesday. He was 86.
“We are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of Brooks Robinson. An integral part of our Orioles Family since 1955, he will continue to leave a lasting impact on our club, our community, and the sport of baseball,” the Orioles said in a statement posted on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Considered by many to be the greatest defensive third baseman the game has ever seen, and adored by fans for both his on-field exploits and his humble and gracious demeanor, Robinson helped Baltimore advance to the postseason six times and win a pair of World Series titles.
Robinson won 16 Gold Gloves as the best at his position and was named an All-Star 18 times. But it will be his stellar play at third base during the 1970 World Series against the powerful Cincinnati Reds for which will be remembered by most fans.
Robinson cemented his place in MLB’s annals during that “Fall Classic”, making one dazzling play after another at the position known as the hot corner. He also batted .429 with a pair of home runs to lead the Orioles to a 4-1 series win.
“I just happened to be in the right spot in that series. I tell people that I played 23 seasons and I never did have five games in a row like I did in that World Series,” Robinson once told MLB.com. “It was a once in a lifetime five-game series for me and it just happened to be in a World Series.”
In 1964, Robinson was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player after putting up the finest offensive season of his career, batting .317 with 28 home runs, 118 runs batted in (RBI) and 82 runs scored.
In 1966, Robinson was named the All-Star Game MVP despite being on the losing team.
Brooks Calbert Robinson was born May 18, 1937 in Little Rock, Arkansas. His father worked for a bakery before becoming a captain with Little Rock Fire Department. His mother worked for the state controller department.
Offered a full basketball scholarship from the University of Arkansas, Robinson instead accepted an offer to play professional baseball from the Baltimore Orioles.
Robinson, whose uniform No. 5 was retired by the Orioles in 1978, shortly after his final season, led all American League third basemen in fielding percentage 11 times and assists eight times. His 2,870 games at third base still tops the all-time list.
Following his retirement, Robinson remained active in baseball and served as an Orioles broadcaster and president of the MLB Players Alumni Association.
Robinson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.
He finished his career with a .267 batting average, 2,848 hits, 268 home runs and 1,357 RBI, but will always be remembered for his stellar defensive play.