Brooks Robinson to share tales from O's early years at Maryland Theatre
Baseball fans will have an opportunity to hear stories about the Orioles heyday, and perhaps some of Hagerstown’s history with baseball, from Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.
The Maryland Theatre is hosting An Evening with Brooks Robinson on Sunday, Nov. 17.
The Hall of Famer will share stories from his 23-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, including tales of games and other players.
“I enjoy events like this. I am a people person and I like sharing stories from my playing days with the Orioles,” Robinson said through an email.
Robinson, 82, said he’s also excited to return to Hagerstown.
In 1955, he played his first professional season with the York (Pa.) White Roses, which competed in the Piedmont League against the Hagerstown Packets. The Packets were affiliated with the Washington Senators.
During the Sept. 6, 1955, game at Municipal Stadium, Robinson hit two triples to help the Roses beat the Packets 12 to 5.
Near the end of that season, he was called up to the big leagues where he remained until his retirement in 1977.
During his career, Robinson accumulated 2,848 hits (48th all-time), 268 home runs, went to 18 All-Star games, and was named the American League MVP in 1964 and the World Series MVP in 1970.
But he is perhaps best known for his defensive wizardry.
Nicknamed “The Human Vacuum Cleaner” for how he seemed to capture every ball headed toward the hot corner, Robinson has the most career assists, 6,205, of any third baseman in major-league history, according to Baseball Reference. He also has 15 other assists from the few times he played second or shortstop.
Robinson got his start at second base for the White Roses, before moving to third.
While Robinson says he’s not a fan of “the shift,” he doesn’t think it has cut down on dramatic plays in the field.
“I watch a lot of baseball games and even with the shift I see a lot of great plays,” Robinson said.
As the Orioles go through a rebuild under the leadership of General Manager Mike Elias, the team is working more with analytics — data meant to help players at the plate and in the field.
“When I played, a lot of it was on a gut feeling. I think analytics help, but you have to have the gut feeling as well, so I think a combination of the two is good,” Robinson said.
As for the rebuilding O’s, who finished this year with the second-worst record in the majors after being in last place in 2018, Robinson said he tells fans to be patient.
“I came to the Orioles in 1955, one year after they moved from St. Louis. The team lost 100 games in 1954 and 1955. They didn’t really start reaping the benefits for their rebuild until the 1960s when players like Chuck Estrada and Ronnie Hansen made an impact,” Robinson said.
Hansen, a shortstop, was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1960.
The Baltimore Orioles, of the American League, won their first World Series, sweeping the Dodgers in four games, in 1966. They returned to the World Series, during Robinson’s career, in 1969, 1970 and 1971. In 1970, they won it all, beating a Reds team that featured Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Johnny Bench and Lee May.
“It takes guys that can play and this year was a trial to see who could play and who couldn’t,” Robinson said. “In the next few years we can see who will be able to prove themselves as major league players.”
Patrons also will have the chance, for an extra fee, of meeting Robinson beforehand at the downtown Hagerstown theater.
Smithsburg resident Trey Cobb got to meet Robinson last May in the run-up to the Brooks Robinson All-Stars game, for high-school players, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
“All the great stories you hear are definitely true of Brooks Robinson. He’s a legend,” said Cobb, former baseball coach for Smithsburg High and head coach for the Funkstown American Legion team.
Cobb said Robinson was unassuming, introducing himself and chatting with Cobb’s son, Ty, 8. (Yes, Ty Cobb for the Tigers’ Hall of Famer).
The main event at the theater will include a question and answer session.