Q&A With Mr. Oriole, Brooks Robinson
On Saturday, Sept. 29, the Orioles will unveil the final sculpture in their Legends Celebration Series as they honor Brooks Robinson. In 2007, PressBox celebrated Robinson's 70th birthday with the publication of "Brooks Robinson: The Original Oriole," and Stan "The Fan" Charles talked with No. 5 about his incredible career at third base -- and how it almost wasn't.
PressBox: Could you have ever imagined yourself playing a position other than third base? And how much of the greatness you had defensively was from playing a position that demanded that much focus?
Brooks Robinson: Well, actually, I started as a second baseman and I played my first 50 games at second base in York, Pa. Paul Richards and George Stallard just felt like, in the long run, third base would be my best position. They saw I had the quick reflexes, the quick two or three steps, and really that's what third base is all about. I just always had the great hand-eye coordination, being where the ball was, even in basketball in high school, having the quick hands, and just kind of the anticipation you have doing certain things. And that had to be a God-given talent more than anything else. It's just the way it was.
When I moved over to third base, it was not any big transition for me. As I said before, third is a reflex position. I felt that I got rid of the ball quick. That was one of my biggest assets. I didn't have a great arm, say like a Clete [Boyer] or Aurelio Rodriguez or Sal Bando. But I got rid of the ball and got it on its way and got in a position to throw.
PB: Was the 1966 World Series the greatest thrill of your career?
BR: Yes, it was. I think that looking back, as a youngster growing up in Arkansas, I dreamt of signing a professional contract. I was a pretty good player. No one was going to give me a lot of money. I got $4,000. If you got more than that, you were a bonus player and had to come directly to the major leagues. But certainly I had a lot of question marks. I didn't run real well. I had an average arm.
As a kid, you dreamt about signing a contract. I had several scholarships, basketball scholarships. One to Arkansas to play up there, and it was a big decision and my parents left it up to me. I had seven or eight teams that were interested in signing me, all for the $4,000, and I signed with the Orioles.
I dreamt about signing a contract and playing in the minor leagues, getting to the big leagues, winning a pennant and being on a World Championship team. That was it. And then in '60 we had a good shot to do it and we didn't quite make it, didn't quite make it in '64 and then in '66, we got over the hump and we were the World Champions.
Click here to read Stan "The Fan" Charles' full interview with Brooks Robinson, conducted before Robinson's 70th birthday in 2007.
Plus: Jim Henneman remembers the first time he saw Brooks Robinson.
Posted Sept. 26, 2012