Brooks Robinson, Orioles third baseman with 16 Gold Gloves, has died. He was 86

Obit Brooks Robinson Baseball FILE - Baseball Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson, who played 23 years for the Baltimore Orioles, stands near a vintage jersey June 12, 2007, at his office in Ellicott City, Md. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died. He was 86. The Orioles announced his death in a joint statement with Robinson's family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. The statement did not say how Robinson died. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)
Obit Brooks Robinson Baseball FILE - Brooks Robinson, third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, blows a bubble in 1969. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died. He was 86. The Orioles announced his death in a joint statement with Robinson's family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. The statement did not say how Robinson died. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - Baltimore third baseman Brooks Robinson makes a diving catch for a line drive hit by Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Bench to end the sixth inning of a baseball game, Oct. 13, 1970, in Baltimore. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died, according to a joint announcement by the Orioles and his family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson (5) leaps across the infield to congratulate pitcher Dave McNally (19) and Orioles catcher Andy Etchebarren (8) after the final out in a World Series baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Baltimore, Md., on Oct. 9, 1966. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died, according to a joint announcement by the Orioles and his family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty, File)
FILE - Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson, seeking his 1,000th major league hit, fouls the ball back past the head of Minnesota Twins catcher Jerry Zimmerman in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, June 6, 1964 in Twin Cities, Minn. Robinson singled a couple of pitches later to reach the 1,000th. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died, according to a joint announcement by the Orioles and his family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick, File)
FILE - Former Baltimore Oriole Brooks Robinson speaks during a ceremony in memory of Frank Robinson before a baseball game between the Orioles and the New York Yankees, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Baltimore. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died, according to a joint announcement by the Orioles and his family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)
FILE - Former Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson is honored during a ceremony for the Hall of Fame before a baseball game between the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles, Sept. 24, 2022, in Baltimore. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died, according to a joint announcement by the Orioles and his family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)
FILE - Former Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson speaks during a ceremony to unveil a statue of him before a baseball game between the Orioles and the Boston Red Sox in Baltimore, Sept. 29, 2012. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died, according to a joint announcement by the Orioles and his family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Obit Brooks Robinson Baseball FILE - Former Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson acknowledges fans as he rides along the warning track in a convertible before a baseball game between the Orioles and the Boston Red Sox in Baltimore, Sept. 29, 2012. Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died, according to a joint announcement by the Orioles and his family Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
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WTOP alum and Baltimore Orioles beat reporter Craig Heist discusses Brooks Robinson's career.

BALTIMORE (AP) — Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died. He was 86.

The Orioles announced his death in a joint statement with Robinson’s family Tuesday. The statement did not say how Robinson died.

The Orioles held a moment of silence before their game against the Washington Nationals, and the teams lined up outside their dugouts to pay their respects. Also before the game, fans gathered around the 9-foot bronze statue of Robinson inside Camden Yards.

“Great player, great guy on the field, great guy off,” said fellow Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who was overcome with emotion. “Respectful, kind. And you don’t meet too many guys like that. Brooks was a genuine person. There was no acting. Brooks was just a genuine person.”

Coming of age before the free agent era, Robinson spent his entire 23-year career with the Orioles. He almost single-handedly helped Baltimore defeat Cincinnati in the 1970 World Series and homered in Game 1 of the Orioles’ 1966 sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers for their first crown.

Robinson participated in 18 All-Star Games, won 16 consecutive Gold Gloves and earned the 1964 AL Most Valuable Player award after batting .318 with 28 home runs and a league-leading 118 RBIs.

“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 team said.

He finished with 268 homers, drove in 1,357 runs and batted a respectable .267 in 2,896 career games. Not bad for ol’ No. 5, the boy from Arkansas.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred described Robinson as “one of the greats of our National Pastime,” calling him a “model of excellence, durability, loyalty and winning baseball for the Orioles.”

MLB Player Association Executive Director Tony Clark cited Robinson’s role as an advocate for his fellow players.

“Tributes to Brooks Robinson will duly note his brilliance at third base … . But his impact transcended the field — as a prominent voice in the early days of the MLBPA and a relentless advocate for his fellow players through his work with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.”

The Hall of Fame applauded Robinson’s role as a member of its board.

“For generations of fans, Brooks Robinson’s talent on the field was surpassed only by his incredible character and integrity. His love of the Hall of Fame brightened Cooperstown, as did his devotion to the Museum as a long-standing and valued member of our Board of Directors.”

Robinson will be forever remembered for his work ethic and the skill he displayed at the hot corner, where he established himself as one of the finest fielding third baseman in baseball history, whether charging slow rollers or snaring liners down the third-base line.

“Brooks was maybe the last guy to get into the clubhouse the day of the game, but he would be the first guy on the field,” said former Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who died in 2013. “He’d be taking his groundballs, and we’d all go, ‘Why does Brooks have to take any groundballs?’

“I wouldn’t expect anything else from Brooks. Seeing him work like that meant a lot of any young person coming up. He was so steady, and he steadied everybody else.”

Robinson arrived in Baltimore in September 1955 as an 18-year-old after spending most of his first professional season in baseball with Class B York. He went 2 for 22 with the Orioles and struck out 10 times.

He jockeyed between the majors and minors until July 1959, when he stuck around in Baltimore for good.

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker recalled Robinson’s friendship during the early years of his own career, when he broke in with Atlanta in the late 1960s.

“I’m just sad. Another great one is called to heaven,” Baker said. “They got some all-stars up there.

“He was really nice to me when I was a rookie with the Braves. We used to barnstorm with him all the time and he was a real gentleman. … I never heard anything negative about him, ever. And he was on a team that with the Orioles had a number of African-American players. I think they had 10 or 12. They all loved him. That’s saying a lot. Especially back in that day.”

Brooks Calbert Robinson Jr. was born in Little Rock on May 18, 1937. He eventually made Baltimore his home but never really lost his southern twang, which was just fine with fans in blue-collar Baltimore, who appreciated his homespun charm and unassuming demeanor.

Dubbed “Mr. Oriole,” he was a sports hero in Charm City, in the pantheon with former Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas and Orioles infielder Cal Ripken, who performed for a different generation.

Many Orioles rooters who never got to see Robinson play still were able to enjoy his observations as he was part of team broadcasts.

Ripken was known as The Iron Man because he played in 2,632 consecutive games, but Robinson wasn’t fond of sitting on the bench, either. From 1960-1975, he played in at least 152 games in 14 seasons and in 144 games the other two years.

“I’m a guy who just wanted to see his name in the lineup everyday,” he said. “To me, baseball was a passion to the point of obsession.”

Robinson retired in 1977 after batting only .149 in 24 games. His jersey was retired that year.

Robinson’s most memorable performance came as MVP of the 1970 World Series, when the Orioles bounced back from their stunning defeat to the New York Mets the year before and Robinson redeemed himself after batting just 1 for 19 in that series. Because he was so sensational in the field during Baltimore’s five-game triumph over the Reds, few remember he hit .429 and homered twice and drove in six runs — or that he made an error on his first play in the field.

In Game 1, Robinson delivered the tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning. One inning earlier, he made a sensational backhanded grab of a hard grounder hit down the line by Lee May, spun around in foul territory and somehow threw out the runner.

Robinson contributed an RBI single in the second game and became forever a part of World Series lore with his standout performance in Game 3. He made a tremendous, leaping grab of a grounder by Tony Perez to start a first-inning double play; charged a slow roller in the second inning and threw out Tommy Helms; then capped his memorable afternoon with a diving catch of a liner by Johnny Bench. The Series ended, fittingly, with a ground out to Robinson in Game 5, a 9-3 Orioles win.

“I’m beginning to see Brooks in my sleep,” Reds manager Sparky Anderson said during the Series. “If I dropped this paper plate, he’d pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first.”

Anderson also said, “He can throw his glove out there and it will start 10 double plays by itself.”

Palmer and other teammates would say that the country got to see what Robinson did routinely during the regular season. Robinson used to blush when asked to recall his heroics in October 1970.

“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,” he said. “It was a once in a lifetime five-game series for me, and it just happened to be in a World Series.”

His legacy in Maryland continued long after his retirement.

There’s a Brooks Robinson Drive in Pikesville, and the annual state high school All-Star game played at Camden Yards is named in his honor.

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David Ginsburg is a retired AP Sports Writer. Freelance journalist Todd Karpovich in Baltimore contributed to this report.

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AP Baseball: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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