Brooks Robinson, one of the greatest third basemen and defensive players in baseball history, has died at the age of 86. Robinson spent his entire 23-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, winning two World Series titles, 16 Gold Glove awards, and the admiration of fans and peers alike.
A legend in Baltimore
Robinson was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1937 and signed with the Orioles in 1955 for $4,000. He made his debut later that year at the age of 18 and became a regular starter in 1960. He quickly established himself as a star, winning his first Gold Glove and making his first All-Star appearance that year.
Robinson was the leader of the Orioles teams that dominated the American League in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He won the AL MVP award in 1964 and helped the Orioles win their first World Series title in 1966, sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games. He also won the World Series MVP award in 1970, when he led the Orioles to another championship over the Cincinnati Reds with a dazzling display of hitting and fielding.
Robinson was known for his exceptional glove work at the hot corner, earning him the nickname “The Human Vacuum Cleaner”. He set several records for third basemen, including most games played (2,870), most putouts (2,697), most assists (6,205), most double plays (618), and highest fielding percentage (.971). He also had a solid bat, hitting .267 with 268 home runs and 1,357 RBIs in his career.
Robinson retired after the 1977 season and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983, becoming the first third baseman to be elected in his first year of eligibility. He was also honored by the Orioles with a statue outside Camden Yards and his number 5 retired by the team. He was widely regarded as one of the greatest Orioles of all time and one of the most beloved figures in Baltimore sports history.
A gentleman off the field
Robinson was not only a great player, but also a great person. He was known for his humble and gracious demeanor, his charitable work, and his loyalty to the Orioles and their fans. He was involved with several organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, and the MLB Players Alumni Association. He also remained close to the Orioles franchise, serving as a broadcaster, coach, consultant, and ambassador.
Robinson faced several health challenges in his later years, including prostate cancer, diabetes, and a spinal infection that left him partially paralyzed. He underwent surgery and rehabilitation and was able to walk again with a cane. He continued to make public appearances and attend Orioles games until his final days.
Robinson is survived by his wife of 62 years, Connie; his four children; his nine grandchildren; and his two great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind a legacy of excellence, integrity, and kindness that will be remembered by generations of baseball fans.
Tributes pour in for Robinson
The news of Robinson’s death sparked an outpouring of tributes from across the baseball world and beyond. Many former teammates, opponents, colleagues, friends, and admirers expressed their condolences and shared their memories of Robinson on social media and in statements.
Some of the notable tributes include:
- MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: “All of us at Major League Baseball are saddened by the loss of Brooks Robinson, one of the greats of our National Pastime and a legend of the Baltimore Orioles. Brooks stood among the greatest defensive players who have ever lived. He was a two-time World Series Champion, the 1964 American League MVP, and the winner of 16 consecutive Gold Gloves at third base. He was a model of excellence, durability, loyalty and winning baseball for the Orioles. After his playing career, he continued to make contributions to the game by working with the MLB Players Alumni Association. I will always remember Brooks as a true gentleman who represented our game extraordinarily well on and off the field all his life. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Brooks’ family, his many friends across our game, and Orioles fans everywhere.”
- Orioles statement: “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.”
- Cal Ripken Jr., Hall of Fame shortstop: “Brooks Robinson was my hero growing up. I loved watching him play third base with such grace and skill that it seemed effortless. I had the privilege of playing alongside him for one season in 1981 and learned so much from him. He was a mentor, a friend, and a legend. He embodied everything that is good about the game of baseball and the city of Baltimore. He will be dearly missed, but never forgotten.”
- Frank Robinson, Hall of Fame outfielder and former teammate: “Brooks Robinson was more than a teammate, he was a brother to me. We shared so many great moments on and off the field, and I will always cherish them. He was one of the best players I ever played with or against, and one of the finest human beings I ever met. He was a true gentleman, a loyal friend, and a generous soul. He loved the game, he loved the Orioles, and he loved the fans. He was a joy to be around and a pleasure to watch. He was simply the best.”
- Johnny Bench, Hall of Fame catcher and former opponent: “Brooks Robinson was the greatest third baseman I ever saw. He made plays that seemed impossible and made them look easy. He was also a great hitter, a great leader, and a great competitor. He was a class act on and off the field, always respectful and courteous. He was a role model for me and many others who played the game. He was a true legend and a wonderful person. I will miss him dearly.”