Hot corner Hall of Famer

Brooks Robinson was a defensive specialist

2001 Fleer Greats of the Game #22

2001 Fleer Greats of the Game

#22 Brooks Robinson

3B, Baltimore Orioles

The 1969 season marks my earliest memories of Major League Baseball. We had a new team — the Seattle Pilots! — and the Miracle Mets won the World Series. I remember diving catches by outfielders Tommy Agee and Ron Swaboda (Mets), and Paul Blair (Orioles). And the visceral excitement of the underdogs’ triumph.

But memory is a funny thing. I also remember Brooks Robinson making circus play after circus play at third base. Maybe some of them happened in ’69, but most probably came in the ’70 Series, when he also hit .429 and won MVP, and the ’71 Series, when he hit .318. They all blur together, like a random career highlight reel of top-10 plays. Except, these weren’t from a career. They were from one World Series (or two, or three). And it seemed like many more plays than 10. It seemed that every opposing batter scorched a screaming drive down the third-base line. And it seemed Brooks snagged every single one of them — backhand, forehand, diving, leaping, charging, bare-handing, making ridiculous throws from improbable contortions.

You can find highlights on YouTube. They’ve aged like fine wine. I’m sure there are other Brooks Robinson clips on there too, probably even films of top-10 career stops. Or top 20. Or 50. I bet there is also film of him batting; the dude finished with 2,848 hits, for gosh sake! I’m certain I speak for my generation, however, when I say Brooks Robinson will forever be lionized as the bar for hot-corner defense.

…It was his phenomenal play at third that earned him 16 straight Gold Gloves, his card informs us, and the distinction of being the greatest defensive third baseman of all time.

Amen.

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