Brooks to fans at statue ceremony: “I like to call you friends, not fans”

In typical Brooks Robinson fashion, he spent most of a roughly 17-minute speech after the unveiling of his statue today, talking about others and thanking them, much more than himself or anything about his career.

“You know Paul Blair, the last six or seven years we played together, he’d always say ‘when is your next Brooks Robinson day?’ This is it Paulie. You won’t have to do that anymore.

“I just want to say to all the fans here. I don’t like to call you fans, I like to call you friends,” he said to a huge applause. “You have been so wonderful to me and my wife since I came to Baltimore back in 1955. I just want to thank all of you.”

Brooks then turned his attention to the current team.

“Anyway, how bout ‘dem O’s,” he said as the crowd erupted again. “What a year, I’m telling you. I want to say to Buck [Showalter] and the players, you’ve had a magnificent year. You know, the Yankees lost, that is even better news. Also Dan Duquette and his staff have done a good job. Of all the teams I’ve seen over the years, you can really say this was a team effort. It really has been. I say to the fans, ‘this is just like the playoffs right now. Enjoy it and pull for the Orioles to win.’”

His “thank yous” included the Angelos family and Toby Mendez, the local sculpter of the statues in Legends Park. He thanked former Orioles front office staffer Charles Steinberg and one-time O’s bat boy Roy Firestone, who also spoke.

“I thank God for my life and for sending an angel into my life over a half century ago,” Robinson said of his four children who were in attendance, along with nine of his 10 grandchildren. “That angel has been my beautiful wife, Connie. She has stood by me with total love and devotion throughout and given me four wonderful children.

“I got to play with a lot of great players. Almost an All-Star at every position,” he said, then took time to mention several players including Boog Powell, Jim Palmer, Al Bumbry, Rick Dempsey, Blair and Ron Hansen.

“What can I say about this guy,” he said of Frank Robinson. “When I am asked about the greatest players I’ve ever seen in the history of the game and you’ve got Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron and you’ve got Willie Mays. Those are the three best, but I want to tell you something. This guy should be right with them, he is just as good as they were.”

Brooks joked that during his last season he taught Eddie Murray how to hit. “I taught you well, Eddie.

“Then there is the Earl of Baltimore,” Robinson said. “He became a great manager and got into the Hall of Fame. Earl, you’re too much.

“I want to tell you how much you fans mean to me. I love all of you. I hope you enjoy the game and the Orioles come out winning.”

Later, Brooks answered a few questions at a press conference.

He was asked if it is surreal to have a statue?
“It sure is, very surreal. You think, those things are never going to go away unless they tear them down and they don’t tear statues down very often. This is a wonderful ballpark and it’s wonderful for the fans to look at the guys that help make this franchise and that are in the baseball Hall of Fame. I played at the right time with some great players.”

Here is Brooks on Manny Machado at third base
“I like that kid playing third base, yeah. This kid seems like he can play anywhere. He has a great arm and a great instinct for the ball. There are a few things he could work on, not trying to criticism him. Things like men on first and second and none away, when do you know to go after a ball or not. Little things like that, but he is a terrific player and no one has fooled him at bat.”

Would you like to be around the Orioles more?
“Not really. I’m enjoying what I do now, being part owner of Opening Day Partners. We have four teams in Lancaster and York, one in Southern Maryland and we have a team in Texas, the Sugerland Skeeters. I’m having too much fun doing that. I’m having fun, that is the main thing.”

Are you surprised how the fans still love you here?
“I called all my friends and they showed up. I’ve met a lot of people in my day.”

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