Brooks Robinson 1958 #307
by William Szczepanek
After brief trips to the Big Leagues in 1956 and 1957, 1958 was Brooks Robinson's first full season in the Majors. He played 23 seasons, all for the Baltimore Orioles. This card from 1958 was not his first. His rookie card occurred in 1957, so it is somewhat a rarity for a second year card to beat out a rookie card as most popular. This card could make the Ugly Card Hall of Fame since Robinson's expression on the card is not very complimentary.
Brooks Robinson was the epitome of what a third basemen should be. He won 16 consecutive Gold Gloves for third basemen, 1959 through 1975. He played more games at third base than any other player, 2,870, with a career leading 6,205 assists and with the third highest fielding percentage of all time, .971. He had the highest fielding percentage for a third baseman when he retired. His fielding percentage is incredible considering his range. He threw out many runners on which other fielders would have played it safe and not attempted a throw.
Brooks was elected to 15 All Star teams from 1960 through 1974, starting in 11 of them. He was American League MVP in 1964 hitting .318 with 28 home runs and leading the league with 118 RBIs. He came in second for the MVP honor to teammate Frank Robinson in 1966.
In the 1970 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, Brooks was named the MVP. His defense was incredible and he tied the record for most hits (9) in a five game series. It was in this series that he earned the nickname "Hoover" as in" the human vacuum cleaner".
Brooks played in 39 World Series games for 5 championship teams. He batted .303 overall and drove in the game-winning run seven times. While his batting skills were very good his reputation is bet summed up as the best fielding third baseman of all time.
"I could field as long as I can remember, but hitting has been a struggle all my life." - Brooks Robinson
Robinson also hit into four triple plays during his career, a major league record. He was somewhat slow afoot on the base paths, but had tremendous quickness and agility as a third sacker.
"I'm beginning to see Brooks (Robinson) in my sleep. If I dropped a paper plate, he'd pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first." - Sparky Anderson