When the public memorial at Camden Yards began this morning, held fittingly on the foul ground right near the third base bag, emcee Scott Garceau from the Orioles broadcast team began the program saying - “I’m sure we’re all here for the same reason – we love Brooks Robinson.”
Over the next hour or so that love was on display as fellow Hall of Famers, former teammates, representatives from all around Major League Baseball, current Orioles and fans, or as Brooks would call them, "friends," honored the player that many call the greatest third baseman ever.
Early in the ceremony, among the speakers were Grant and Brooks Farley, two of Robinson's grandchildren and his son Brooks David Robinson.
“RIP Dad, we love you and if there is anything you can do up there to help the Orioles bring another championship to Baltimore, we'd greatly appreciate it," the younger Brooks said.
O's Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray spoke, as did former O's first baseman Boog Powell and former third baseman Doug DeCinces.
"My mom and dad encouraged me to be like Brooks," Ripken said. "Not for how he played but for how he handled himself.
"I would have loved to have been teammates with Brooks. We will miss him," Ripken said as he became choked up.
"He was my great friend and I'm going to miss him. Connie and the Robinson family, you had a great man there," said Murray.
DeCinces said: "He was more unassuming and down to earth than any superstar I ever met. Trying to replace him was a tremendous honor."
On "Thanks Brooks Day" in September of 1977, DeCinces took third base out of the infield and handed it to Brooks and said he told him "third base will always be yours."
Robinson died at age 86 on Tuesday after a career that began in 1955 with the Orioles and ended in 1977. Along the way he played in 18 All-Star games, won 16 consecutive Gold Gloves while playing in 2,896 games, all as an Oriole. He was the 1964 AL MVP and was on two World Series winners in 1966 and 1970, winning the World Series MVP award in 1970. At the end of his life he was still serving the club as a special advisor and community liason.
Current O's attended including Grayson Rodriguez, Tyler Wells, Ryan Mountcastle, Kyle Bradish, Adam Frazier, Ryan O’Hearn, Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, coach Darren Holmes and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel.
Both O's owner John Angelos and O's executice vice president and general manager Mike Elias attended.
Jim Kaat, who also won 16 Gold Gloves, spoke and so did Joe Torre representing MLB and the commissioner's office. Torre mentioned that for over 30 years Brooks was on the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors and said he was very active because he cared so much about the game.
Kaat mentioned Robinson's involvement for 33 years as president of the MLB players alumni association. He helped the organization grow from 600 members to now over 20,000.
Added Torre: "He has left an impression on so many people and has changed so many lives for the better. What a life to look back on. 2023 start to the playoffs, not ever fair to the other teams you have another player up there. Great man, I loved him dearly."
Powell said when he came to the Orioles the first player he met was Brooks. Powell's dad was also there that day and Brooks told him he would take care of his son.
"Brooks was like a brother to me," said Powell. "He surely was the best third baseman ever. My friend Brooks was the kindest man I ever knew. I am not good at saying goodbye. See you on the field again someday. I love you my friend and I miss you."
At the end of the memorial they played the Orioles video tribute to Brooks. During that, he said: "I get questions like what was really the highlight of your career? Winning an MVP in the World Series or during the season? I say the longer I am out of the game I appreciate one thing - the fact I played longer with one team than anyone in the history of baseball. I played 23 years with the Orioles. And believe me it has come back ten fold to me."