Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My favorite Baltimore Oriole... Brooks Robinson

I love the game of baseball, have for well over forty years. Even though I grew up a fan of the Detroit Tigers, I followed all the big league clubs, and players. I watched every game I could on the game of the week, every All-Star Game, and every World Series.

So, I thought I would make a list of my favorite players from all 30 ball clubs, even those clubs that are no longer in existence, like the Washington Senators and the St. Louis Browns, and also players from the old Negro Leagues like the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Detroit Stars.

Let's start in the American League East, then we'll work our way around the rest of the current teams, defunct teams, and the Negro Leagues.

Baltimore Orioles 

The O's moved to the City of Baltimore in 1954, leaving St. Louis, where they were known as the Browns, and changed their name to the Orioles. The O's franchise actually started in 1901, as the Milwaukee Brewers, but moved to St. Louis in 1902.

The Orioles have had great teams in Baltimore since the mid 1960's, and in 1966 they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the Orioles first World Series Championship. The Orioles were also in the World Series in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1979, and 1983. The Birds won in '70 and '83, the last appearance for Baltimore in the Fall Classic.

The 1970 Series was the first time I saw every game of a World Series. I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks when I was ten, and I got to watch TV every day as the Birds beat the Cincinnati Reds behind the MVP of the Series, Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson, who hit .429.

But what Brooks did with his glove at third base made him a baseball superstar. Robinson made spectacular play after spectacular play from the hot corner, robbing the Big Red Machine time and time again.

Brooks Robinson is the single best third baseman I have ever seen since I began following baseball.

Robinson played for the Orioles for his entire 23 year career, hitting .267, with 268 home runs, and driving in 1,357 runs while winning 16 Gold Glove Awards at the hot corner. Brooks, known as "The Human Vacuum Cleaner", set numerous fielding records in his career, including leading the American League in fielding percentage eleven times.

Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.

To me, and many Orioles fans, Brooks Robinson is Mr. Oriole.

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