Orioles legend Brooks Robinson, a Hall of Famer whose on-field prowess led the Orioles to a pair of World Series championships and whose off-field charm made him a beloved figure for generations of Baltimoreans, has died, the club announced Tuesday evening. He was 86.
“We are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of Brooks Robinson,” Robinson’s family and the Orioles said in a statement. “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.”
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement that Robinson, “stood among the greatest defensive players who have ever lived. … 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.”
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Robinson was the son of a semiprofessional baseball player who signed with the Orioles and went on to become the most legendary figure in club history; he was known as Mr. Oriole to generations of fans.
Robinson, one of six Orioles to have their number retired by the organization, was a star of the club’s golden generation. He was an 18-time All-Star, won 16 Gold Glove awards, and was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1964. Robinson debuted with the team at 18 years old in 1955, and played 23 seasons — all for the Orioles — before retiring in 1977.
His 16 Gold Gloves are a record for position players, with his defensive prowess earning him the nickname “Hoover” in the 1970 World Series win against the Cincinnati Reds. Robinson was the MVP of that World Series, the second he won with the organization after they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers for the championship in 1966.
Robinson ended his career with 268 homers, drove in 1,357 runs and hit .267 in 2,896 career games.
He 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 basemen 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,” former Orioles manager Earl Weaver said. “He’d be taking his ground balls, and we’d all go, ‘Why does Brooks have to take any ground balls?’
“I wouldn’t expect anything else from Brooks,” Weaver continued. “Seeing him work like that meant a lot of any young person coming up. He was so steady, and he steadied everybody else.”
Like many Orioles stars of that time, he became a beloved part of the community. He lived in the area with his wife, Connie — whom he met on a team flight from Kansas City and married in 1960 — and their four children.
After his retirement, Robinson spent time as a color analyst on Orioles broadcasts, and more recently, served as a special advisor and community ambassador for the team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.