Baltimore has caught up to York.
On Saturday, a great injustice was un-done when a long overdue statue of Brooks Robinson was unveiled in Baltimore across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. For years, it was a head-scratcher to all that there was no monument to the living legend in the Charm City. The project turned out to be six years in the making, taking into account securing the funding, finding a site and completing the artwork. DownTown was so excited, he spent the day in Baltimore to check it out…
The statue is located on Washington Blvd. next to the stadium. For those of you who frequest O’s games, it’s right next to Pickles Pub. The gold glove is no accident, representing the 16 consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Brooks won between 1960 and 1975. You might remember that in 2008 at a Revolution game, Brooks was honored as the third baseman on the All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team, making Sovereign Bank Stadium the only minor league ballpark to host one of the ceremonies for the team’s nine members. The new statue is quite impressive, it’s nine feet tall not including it’s base and 1,500 pounds. It’s facing first base at Oriole Park, as if Brooks were throwing a runner out as he usually did when the ball came his way. The piece was actually sculpted in Italy and shipped to Baltimore.
The statue seen from the back, in front of the stage used at the ceremony. Brooks was the last to speak, and had to pause a few times as he teared up after all the dignitaries that preceeded him heaped on the praise in his honor. You can see Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in this photo below the statue, as well as actor Josh Charles, a Baltimore native. Both spoke at the ceremony, as did Jeff Idelman, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, another Baltimorean. Baltimore sportscaster Scott Garceau MC’d the day’s festivities.
In typical DownTown fashion, here he is finding the camera. I had to yell at him to move so we could actually see the statue in the background!
Oh DownTown. Sneaking into another photo…
There was a nice sign that said “Thanks Brooks!” which anyone could sign to share their good words. DownTown finallly remembered why were there, and sent his best wishes to Mr. Robinson as well.
Of course Cylo came to crash the party. The two mascots then engaged in a dance-off, pictured here. Just like that playoff series, the Revolution and DownTown came out on top in this clash as well.
On the base below the statue, sits this plaque with all the sponsors who made this wish a reality. Underneath Major Sponsors, you’ll notice the second from the bottom is Opening Day Partners, the ownership group of the Revolution. Of course, Brooks is a partner in the Revs parent company, making him a minority owner of the team. But he is honored with the Brooks Robinson Plaza and the statue of him in his younger days in the York White Roses uniform at Sovereign Bank Stadium, as York is where he played his first professional game in 1955 when the White Roses were an Oriole farm club. (Brooks signed with the Orioles right out of high school, coming to York from Arkansas.) As impressive as the new statue in Baltimore is, no one can ever change the fact that York was the first to honor Brooks with a well-deserved statue. It’s just a shame it took so long for this to come to fruition in Baltimore for one of the most beloved Hall-of-Famers ever. Big kudos to the people listed above who recognized this and made it happen.
Now there are two Brooks Robinson Plazas. An impressive gathering of Oriole fans turned out for the ceremony, many sporting #5 Robinson jerseys and t-shirts. Most impressive was that the majority of those fans wearing Brooks’ number and name were either not old enough to have been alive during his playing days, or even since his Hall-of-Fame induction in 1983. A true testament to the legend he became in Baltimore, an aura that has not faded, even remotly, over three decades removed from his retirement as a player.
Brooks is a true class-act, and you’ll never hear anyone say any different. The occasions I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with him in person, he couldn’t have been more humble and gracious, and again, I’ve never heard otherwise from anyone else. Hanging on my wall at home is an autographed copy of the Norman Rockwell painting of him, on which he wrote “My best always, thanks for your friendship, great job you’re doing.” As a memorabilia collector, it’s by far my favorite piece, moreso because of what he wrote on it, rather than the celebrity he is. And that is usually the prevailing opinion about Brooks Robinson whenever anyone speaks of him; as great a ballplayer as he was, he is an even better gentleman. I will never forget hearing him talk to reporters in York during that 2008 All-Time Gold Glove Award celebration, when very tongue-in-cheek he exclaimed that “pitchers don’t count” when asked about Greg Maddux being the only man to have more Gold Glove awards that he. Brooks was obviously kidding, but I think it’s safe to say, in respect to Maddux, that Brooks is the greatest defensive player the game has ever seen. 16 consecutive Gold Gloves is just aweing, and certainly no one has duplicated that.
It was a privilege to have now been at both dedications of statues and the “Brooks Robinson Plaza,” both in York and Baltimore. Congratulations again Brooks.