Thursday marked a special day in Baltimore as Orioles legend and Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson celebrated his 80th birthday.
A civic treasure and one of the most beloved figures you’ll find in any community, Robinson remains “Mr. Oriole” more than 20 years after he humbly tried to anoint Cal Ripken with the title. If you’ve lived in the greater Baltimore area for any meaningful period of time, you know what he means to the city.
I was born six years after Robinson played his final game with the Orioles, so I won’t pretend to have any unique insight or observations about his playing career. His accomplishments and highlight reels speak for themselves.
However, one of the great memories of my sports media career came on Opening Day in 2010 when I was covering my first Orioles game. A number of former players were present that day to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 World Series team, and I found the opportunity to approach the man regarded by all as an absolute gentleman. Echoing a sentiment he’d undoubtedly heard in some form from thousands upon thousands over the years, I wanted to thank him and tell him how much of a hero he had been to my father, who had died six years earlier.
Instead of wondering why a youthful member of the media was acting like a fanboy, Robinson warmly patted me on the shoulder, thanked me for sharing, and offered his belated condolences. It was a brief moment not unlike countless others he’s shared with adoring fans, but it sure meant a lot to a Baltimore native who was covering his first Orioles game and thinking a lot about his dad on that day.
Happy birthday, Brooks.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 18, 2017