Brooks Robinson, a Hall of Fame third baseman with the Baltimore Orioles for 23 seasons and the MVP of the 1970 World Series, died Tuesday, his family and the team said. He was 86.
No cause of death was given.
“We are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of Brooks Robinson,” his family and the Baltimore Orioles said in a joint statement. “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.”
Robinson, who led the Orioles to four World Series appearances and two World Series titles, is widely regarded as the baseball’s greatest defensive third baseman.
Robinson’s plays almost singlehandedly dismantled Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” during the 1970 World Series, when he also batted .429.
Robinson was an 18-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove at third base for 16 consecutive seasons, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Robinson was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player and formed a core of players that stunned the Los Angeles Dodgers with a four-game sweep in the 1966 World Series. He, along with fellow Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Jim Palmer, were the key players for a team that would reach the postseason six times, The Washington Post reported.
“Watching Brooks play third is like watching Oscar Robertson play basketball every day,” Frank Robinson once said, according to The Baltimore Sun.
While the Orioles were shocked by the New York Mets in the 1969 World Series, Baltimore bounced back in 1970 in a Series victory against the Reds that showcased Brooks Robinson’s defensive skills.
Still, the Mets had respect for Robinson’s glove.
“I’m not hitting the ball to Robinson in this Series,” New York’s Donn Clendenon said. “He’s the vacuum cleaner, don’t you know that?”
Robinson set the tone in Game 1 of the 1970 World Series, backhanding a hard ground ball by Lee May that took him far into foul territory, the Post reported. Robinson whirled and threw out May to snuff out a Reds rally.
“He was going toward the bullpen when he threw to first,” Reds reliever Clay Carroll said at the time. “His arm went one way, his body another, and his shoes another.”
‘Where do they plug Mr. Hoover in?” May asked after the game.
Robinson homered in the next inning to help the Orioles win, 4-3.
In Game 3, Robinson grabbed Tony Perez’s grounder, stepped on third and completed a double play, according to the Post.
“I’d pay to watch him play,” Reds star Pete Rose said, according to the Sun.
In the ninth inning of the Orioles’ series-clinching Game 5, Robinson dived into foul territory to snag a hard-hit line drive by Cincinnati’s Johnny Bench. He would fittingly made the final out of the Series, grabbing a ground ball and throwing to first to secure Baltimore’s second World Series title.
“I’m beginning to see Brooks in my sleep,” Reds manager Sparky Anderson said after the game. “If I dropped this paper plate, he’d pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first.”
In 1999, Robinson was named to Major League Baseball’s All-Century team, the Sun reported. In 2007, baseball fans named him the best defensive third baseman of all time in balloting conducted by Rawlings, receiving 61% of the vote.
In 1969, fans voted Brooks Robinson “the greatest Oriole in modern-day history,” the Sun reported.
©2023 Cox Media Group