Robinson in 1955
|Born: May 18, 1937|
Little Rock, Arkansas
|September 17, 1955, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 13, 1977, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Runs batted in||1,357|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||91.98% (first ballot)|
Brooks Calbert Robinson Jr. (born May 18, 1937) is an American former professional baseball player. He played his entire 23-year major league career for the Baltimore Orioles (1955-1977), which still stands as the record for the longest career spent with a single team in major league history (tied with Carl Yastrzemski). He batted and threw right-handed, though he was a natural left-hander. Nicknamed "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" or "Mr. Hoover", he is considered the greatest defensive third baseman in major league history. He won 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards during his career, tied with pitcher Jim Kaat for the second-most all-time for any player at any position. Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.
Robinson was born on May 18, 1937, in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Brooks Calbert and Ethel Mae (née Denker) Robinson. His father worked for Colonial Bakery in Little Rock and later became a captain with the Little Rock Fire Department. Meanwhile, his mother worked for Sears Roebuck & Company before accepting a position with the state controller's office. Young Brooks drew a salary himself from delivering the Arkansas Gazette on his bicycle, as well as operating the scoreboard and selling soft drinks at Lamar Porter Field.
Brooks Sr. had played second base for a semi-pro baseball team. He would play the game with his son during Brooks Jr's younger years. Growing up, Brooks Jr. rooted for the St. Louis Cardinals; Stan Musial was his favorite player. In high school, he played American Legion Baseball for the M. M. Eberts Post No. 1 Doughboys, among the greatest American Legion teams in that part of the country. The team reached the regional finals when Robinson was 15 in 1952, then advanced to the sectional tournament in 1953. Robinson graduated from Little Rock High School on May 27, 1955, impressing the University of Arkansas enough with his basketball ability that the school offered him a full scholarship. However, Robinson desired to become a professional baseball player. Lindsay Deal, who went to Capitol View Methodist Church with Robinson, had been a teammate of Baltimore Orioles manager Paul Richards on a minor league team, and he wrote a letter to Richards praising Robinson's ability. In fact, 12 out of 16 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams contacted Robinson, but the Orioles signed him as an amateur free agent in 1955.
After some games in the minor leagues, Robinson made his first appearance with the Orioles on September 17, 1955 at Memorial Stadium against the Washington Senators, batting sixth in the lineup. He had two hits in four at bats, singling in the fourth inning against Chuck Stobbs for his first hit before driving in a run on a single in the eighth inning in the 3-1 win. After that, he went hitless in his next 18 at bats before sitting for the season's final two games. After the season, the Orioles assigned him to the Willard Blues, a Colombian winter league team where Baltimore sent some of its best prospects.Earl Wilson hit Robinson in the head with a pitch in one of the games, but Robinson's batting helmet protected him.
In 1956, Robinson was allowed to stay in spring training with the Orioles until March 21, but Baltimore acquired Bobby Adams to play third base, thinking the 18-year-old Robinson was not quite ready for the major leagues. He spent most of the year with the Class AA San Antonio Missions, where he tore cartilage in his right knee while sliding into a base in August. The injury was initially feared to require surgery, but rest and heat reduced the swelling, and he only missed a few games. Promoted to Baltimore after the minor league season, he appeared in 15 games, demonstrating fielding ability beyond his years though he only batted .227.
Robinson competed with future Hall of Famer George Kell to be Baltimore's everyday third baseman in 1957, though Kell happily mentored the younger player. Both made the starting lineup (Robinson at third base, Kell at first), but two weeks into the season, Robinson completely tore the cartilage in his knee while swerving to avoid a tag at first base. He missed all of May and spent most of June rehabbing in San Antonio but regained the starting job when he returned. On August 2, he was again hit in the head with a pitch, this time by Ned Garver; he got a concussion but only missed five days. On August 14, Pedro Ramos threw him a pitch that he turned into his first major league home run. In 50 games, he batted .239. Because of the time he had missed, the Orioles had him play winter baseball again to continue his development. This time in Havana, he led the league with nine home runs.
When the Orioles played the New York Yankees in late April 1958, Yogi Berra said that Robinson had "got a great future" after the third baseman dove to catch a Gil McDougald ground ball, stood up, and still threw out Berra trying to score. Offensively, Robinson batted .406 through April. Towards midseason, he developed a pitch in his swing and started hitting too many pop flies. In August, he began losing playing time to Dick Williams due to the slump. He helped Hoyt Wilhelm throw a no-hitter on September 28 by making several terrific fielding plays. In 145 games, he batted .238 with three home runs in 463 at bats, weak offensive numbers, but his defense was more impressive. "I think Brooks is in a class by himself as a defensive third baseman," said Oriole manager Paul Richards.
Following the 1958 season, Robinson served six months in the Arkansas National Guard, which spared him the risk of being drafted by the United States military and having to serve continuously for two years. The service kept him from being in optimal baseball shape, and shortly after the 1959 season started, Robinson was sent to the Vancouver Mounties of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. On May 17, he had a scary moment when, as he fell into a Capilano Stadium dugout to catch a ball, he caught his right biceps on a hook, tearing tendons and creating severe bleeding. The injury just missed tearing a nerve, which would have ended his career, but he only had to miss 25 games. Fulfilling a promise he made when he demoted Robinson, Richards recalled him at the All-Star break. The time in the minors had helped his hitting; biographer Doug Wilson wrote that "He was no longer overmatched by big league pitchers." He batted .284 in 88 games, and Richards said that he was "the best player in the American League [for] the last five weeks of the season."
By 1960, Robinson was unquestionably the Oriole third baseman. He started the year in the sixth slot in the batting lineup but ascended to third after batting .333 in June and .351 in July. In July, he was selected to his first of 18 straight Major League Baseball All-Star Games; he would be a part of both games from 1960-62, in which two games a year were played. On July 15, he recorded five hits in five at bats, including a home run and three RBI in a 5-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. For the first time since their arrival in Baltimore, the Orioles were contenders for the AL pennant, part of a three-way race with the Yankees and the White Sox as September arrived. In the first game of an early September series against the Yankees in Baltimore, Robinson had the first RBI, then fielded a ball hit off of Milt Pappas's leg in the ninth and threw out Hector Lopez at first base. He drove in the only runs in the second game, in which the Orioles took over first place in the AL on September 3. Baltimore swept the series, but a fever briefly hospitalized Robinson at the end of the series, and he went into a batting slump. After getting swept in a four-game series against New York later in the month, Baltimore finished in second. In 152 games, Robinson batted .294 and hit 14 home runs. He finished third in AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting, was named the Most Valuable Oriole by sportscasters and sportswriters around Baltimore, and won his first of 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards at third base.
For most of 1961, Robinson batted first in Baltimore's lineup. He further solidified his defensive reputation in 1961; sportswriter Bob Addie reported, "The 'young old-timers' in the press box are beginning to compare Baltimore's Brooks Robinson with the great third basemen of the past." One of two players in the AL to appear in every game of the season, he batted .287 with 192 hits (second in the league only to Norm Cash's 193) and seven home runs.
After two straight second-place finishes, the Orioles slumped to seventh place in the league in 1962, but Robinson had another fine year. In consecutive games on May 6 and 9, Robinson hit a grand slam, one of six major leaguers to ever do so at the time.Sports Illustrated proclaimed him "the best third baseman in the league." He batted higher than .300 for the first time (.303) and topped 20 home runs (23), recording 86 RBI. He did not perform as well offensively in 1963, batting just .219 after the All-Star break and seeing a streak of 462 consecutive games played come to an end when manager Billy Hitchcock benched him hoping to improve his hitting. For the year, he batted .251 with 11 home runs and 67 RBI.
Robinson spent extra time in 1964 spring training practicing offense with hitting coach Gene Woodling. The coach encouraged Robinson to stop swinging at bad pitches, and Robinson started using a slightly heavier bat. Against the Yankees early in the year, he made what Wilson said "was generally agreed to be the play of the year," diving to stop a hard-hit ground ball off the bat of Bobby Richardson and throwing him out while still seated on the ground. With the Orioles, Yankees, and White Sox in a three-way race for the pennant on September 7, Robinson batted .464 with 28 RBI in the season's final games, though the Orioles again finished behind the Yankees. Maxwell Kates of the Society for American Baseball Research said "Robinson had perhaps his best season in 1964." In 163 games, Robinson hit for a .318 batting average with 28 home runs. He led the league with 118 RBI, winning the AL MVP Award. For much of 1965, Robinson batted over .300 again, though his average fell to .297 by the end of the year.
During the 1965-66 offseason, the Orioles acquired former National League (NL) MVP Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds; Frank would bat third in the lineup, right in front of Brooks. Halfway through the year, Brooks had 70 RBI. In the All-Star Game, he made several outstanding defensive plays and recorded three hits, getting named the game's MVP even though the AL lost 2-1. Over 28 games in August, he struggled, batting .187 with just three RBI. Still, the Orioles clinched the AL pennant on September 15 for the first time in Robinson's tenure with the team. In 157 games, Robinson batted .269 with 23 home runs and 100 RBI, his second (and final) season with at least 100 RBI. He finished second to Frank, that year's Triple Crown winner, in the AL MVP voting; teammate Boog Powell came in third.
Against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, Frank and Brooks hit back-to-back home runs off of Don Drysdale in Game 1, a 5-2 victory. In Game 4, the Orioles nursed a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Jim Lefebvre led off with a single. The next batter, Wes Parker, hit a ground ball that Robinson had to stretch to catch. After stumbling, Robinson threw the ball to second baseman Davey Johnson, who threw out Parker at first base to complete a double play. The score remained 1-0 through the end of the game, and the Orioles completed a four-game sweep of the Dodgers for Baltimore's first World Series championship. A picture of Robinson leaping into the air as he ran to the pitcher's mound to congratulate Dave McNally after the game remains one of the most iconic Oriole photos. After the season, he and multiple other baseball celebrities went on a tour of Vietnam, visiting US troops stationed there during the Vietnam War.
In 1967 spring training, Phil Niekro hit Robinson in the head with a pitch, causing a mild concussion. Robinson slumped early in the year but improved towards the end of June, posting 17 hits over 39 at bats in one 10-game stretch, including five home runs. On August 6, he hit into a triple play for the fourth time in his career, a major league record. "I wouldn't mind seeing someone erase my record of hitting into four triple plays," he said. Towards the end of the year, he went hitless in 49 out of 51 at bats. In 158 games, he batted .269 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI. He played all 162 games for the Orioles in 1968, batting .253 with 17 home runs and 75 RBI.
Through May 1969, Robinson batted .216, only raising his average to .234 by the end of the year. Manager Earl Weaver attributed his struggles to swinging at bad pitches, as well as his slow pace, which prevented him from getting as many infield hits. On August 13, he had three RBI in an 8-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics, including his 193rd career home run against George Lauzerique, which broke Al Rosen's record for most home runs by an AL third baseman. Robinson hit 23 home runs and drove in 84 runs, and the Orioles won the newly created AL East division to advance to the postseason.
In Game 1 of the AL Championship Series (ALCS) versus the Minnesota Twins, Robinson had four hits in Baltimore's 4-3 win. He gloved a hard-hit line drive off the bat of Rod Carew in Game 3, an 11-2 victory that clinched the Orioles a trip to the World Series to face the New York Mets. During Game 1, Rod Gaspar hit a slow, bouncing ball towards third base that both Gaspar and pitcher Mike Cuellar thought would be a hit. Robinson caught it barehanded and threw it to first before he had fully stood up, retiring Gaspar as the Orioles went on to win 4-1. He made a similar play to keep Jerry Grote from getting a hit in Game 2 and had an RBI single against Jerry Koosman, but Baltimore lost 2-1. With the Orioles trailing the Mets 1-0 in the ninth inning of Game 4, Robinson batted against Tom Seaver with runners on first and third and one out. He sent the ball towards right field but was robbed of a hit when Ron Swoboda made a diving catch; Wilson wrote that the catch "is one of the all-time great plays in World Series history." Baltimore lost 2-1 in 10 innings, then went on to lose the series in five games.
Robinson started using a heavier bat in 1970, which he attributed to an improved start to the season, as he batted .311 in April. On May 9, he hit his 200th home run. His 2,000th hit came on June 20, a three-run home run that provided the margin of victory in a game against the Washington Senators. Against the Red Sox on September 4, he recorded five hits, two home runs, and four RBI in an 8-6 victory. Robinson had his highest batting average (.276) and RBI (94) totals since 1966, adding 18 home runs as the Orioles again won the AL East.
In the ALCS, against the Twins, Robinson batted .583 with three runs scored and two RBI as Baltimore completed the sweep, sending them to the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. With Game 1 tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning, Lee May hit a one-hop ball fair past third. Playing behind the base, Robinson lunged, backhanded the ball, spun 180 degrees, and made a one-hop toss to first that narrowly beat May to the bag. Years later, Jayson Stark of ESPN considered this the third-greatest play of all time. Against Gary Nolan in the seventh inning, Robinson's solo home run provided the winning margin in Baltimore's 4-3 triumph. During Game 2, he darted into the gap between him and shortstop Mark Belanger to field a ground ball hit by Bobby Tolan in the first inning. Throwing sidearm to second, he forced out Pete Rose. Then, in the third, he snagged a hard line drive off May's back, whirling and throwing almost immediately to second to start a double play that ended the inning. Baltimore won the game 6-5. He made an over-the-head catch of a bouncing ball off of Tony Pérez's bat in the first inning of Game 3, outracing Rose to third base and throwing to first to start a double play. Fielding a slow grounder hit by Tommy Helms in the second inning, Robinson partially circled the ball before picking it up, allowing him to throw to first on a better angle. He dove to his left to rob Johnny Bench of a hit in the sixth inning, barely holding onto a hard line drive. Offensively, he had two RBI in Baltimore's 9-3 win. In Game 4, he had four hits and a home run, though Baltimore lost 6-5. Finally, in Game 5, he made a diving back-handed catch of a line drive off of Bench's bat in the ninth, as Baltimore won the game 9-3 to clinch their second World Series victory. Though Robinson batted .429 with two home runs in the series, his defensive prowess was what really stood out, as he started two double plays and fielded 23 chances while making several outstanding plays. His performance won him the World Series MVP Award. During the Series, Reds manager Sparky Anderson quipped, "I'm beginning to see Brooks in my sleep. If I dropped this paper plate, he'd pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first." "I've never seen anything like him in my life," Rose said. "He has to be the greatest third baseman of all time," said Pérez, who played the same position. "I just enjoy watching him play. He's in the right place every time." Wilson wrote that Robinson's outstanding play in the series, which was televised nationally, helped his ability to be appreciated by baseball fans outside the Baltimore area. After the season, he won the Hickok Belt, presented annually to the top professional athlete of the year.
Before the 1971 season, Robinson signed a $100,000 contract, becoming only one of 12 players with such a high baseball salary at the time. He played 50 games in a row without committing an error and received the most votes of AL players in the All-Star Game. On July 28, he uncharacteristically made three errors in a game, though Baltimore still won 3-2. Wilson pointed out, "men had literally walked on the moon before Brooks Robinson had made three errors in a game." In 156 games, he batted .272, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 92 runs as he finished fourth in AL MVP voting.
For the third year in a row, the Orioles won the AL East. In Game 2 of the ALCS against the Athletics, Robinson hit a home run against Catfish Hunter. He had two RBI in Game 3 and batted .364 in the series as Baltimore swept the Athletics, advancing them to the World Series where they would face the Pittsburgh Pirates. In Game 2, Robinson had three RBI and reached base safely five times, joining Babe Ruth and Lou Brock as the only other players to do so. During the eighth inning, he landed on his chest after diving for a bouncing ball off the bat of Manny Sanguillén, but he stood up in time to throw the runner out. Baltimore won 11-3. After the Pirates got two baserunners in the first inning of Game 3, Robinson snagged a hard line drive off the bat of Bob Robertson, throwing to second for a double play. Baltimore would lose that game 5-1. With the Orioles facing elimination in Game 6, Robinson hit a 10th-inning sacrifice fly against Bob Miller that scored the winning run in a 3-2 victory. He batted .318 in the series and tied with other Orioles and Pirates for the most RBI in the series (five), but Pittsburgh defeated the Orioles in seven games.
Robinson served as the Major League Baseball Players Association player's representative for much of his career with the Orioles. In 1972, he and Belanger were among the 47 who voted in favor of the 1972 Major League Baseball strike. "I want to play," Robinson told reporters. "All players do. It all boils down to whether the owners are willing to make some concessions. I think our fellows are willing to make some, too, and that seems to be the best chance." The strike only wound up cancelling games on 10 days of the 1972 season, but Robinson was booed in his first at bat of the year at Memorial Stadium.
In 153 games in 1972, Robinson batted .250. His eight home runs and 64 RBI were his lowest totals in those categories since 1961. However, he still won the Commissioner's Award, presented annually to the individual who best represented baseball as a player and as a person.
Robinson hit two home runs on Opening Day in 1973, but his batting average was under .200 by the middle of June. He still made the All-Star Game, but sportswriters observed that his selection had more to do with popularity than it did with his performance that season. On May 4, he had his 2,417th career hit, breaking Pie Traynor's record for most hits by a third baseman. Defensively, he started two 5-4-3 triple plays; one on July 7 against the Athletics, and one on September 20 against the Detroit Tigers. In the season's final two-and-a-half months, he batted nearly .300. He played 155 games, batting .257 with nine home runs and 72 RBI as the Orioles returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence. In the ALCS against Oakland, he batted .250 with a run scored and two RBI as the Athletics defeated Baltimore in five games.
Though Robinson made more errors than usual in 1974, he was batting .311 at the All-Star break. In the second-to-last game of the year, Robinson scored from first on a pinch-hit double by Andy Etchebarren. The run provided the margin of victory in a game that, coupled with a Yankee loss later that day, made the Orioles AL East champions. Robinson batted .288 with seven home runs. His batting average was the best it had been since 1965, though his RBI total was at its lowest since 1959. The Orioles again faced the Athletics in the ALCS; in Game 1, Robinson dove to catch a ball hit by Dick Green, then threw him out at first, adding a solo home run in Baltimore's 6-1 win. He would bat just .083 in the series, which Oakland won in four games.
Plagued by a sore thumb and declining ability in 1975, Robinson missed the All-Star Game for the first time since 1960. His batting average was .159 at one point, and on July 7, a pinch-hitter was substituted for him for the first time since 1958. In 144 games, he batted .201 with six home runs and 53 RBI. On the bright side, he led AL third basemen in fielding percentage for the 11th time.
The Orioles had a young third base prospect named Doug DeCinces, and on May 17, 1976, Weaver informed Robinson that DeCinces would be taking over his position; though still a fine fielder, Robinson was only batting .165. Robinson requested a trade to a team that would give him more playing time and was nearly sent to the White Sox, but he vetoed the deal because Chicago did not want to give him a contract through 1978. In 71 games, he batted .211 with three home runs and 11 RBI. 1977 would be his final season; his playing time was infrequent. He made his final batting appearance on August 5 at Anaheim Stadium, pinch hitting for Belanger in the top of the eighth inning and lining out. However, he would play briefly in one more game, eight days later at Memorial Stadium against the Athletics. He entered as a pinch hitter for Al Bumbry against the left-handed Bob Lacey. When Oakland manager Bobby Winkles replaced Lacey with right-hander Doug Bair, Weaver replaced Robinson with left-handed Tony Muser before the at bat even started. With the Orioles needing another roster spot when Rick Dempsey returned from the disabled list, Robinson retired on August 21, with more than a month to go in the season.
In his playing career, Robinson was selected to 18 consecutive All-Star Games (1960-74) and played in four World Series. He compiled a .267 career batting average with 2,848 hits, 268 home runs and 1357 runs batted in. In 39 postseason games, he batted .303 with 5 home runs and 22 RBI. Several of these numbers came during what biographer Wilson terms the "second dead ball era" (1962-68), in which very few players hit over .300. Robinson led the American League in fielding percentage a record 11 times, and at the time of his retirement, his .971 career fielding average was the highest ever for a third baseman. His totals of 2870 games played at third base, 2697 career putouts, 6205 career assists, 8902 career total chances and 618 double plays are also records for third basemen. Robinson's 23 seasons with one team set a new major league record, since tied by Carl Yastrzemski. Only Yastrzemski (3308), Hank Aaron (3076) and Stan Musial (3026) played more games for one franchise.
Robinson was very animated while waiting to hit. He would grab the top of his helmet, swing his bat with his left hand, and rock forwards and backwards before pitches. Though he was not a fast baserunner, he would swing his arms as he ran the bases, emphasizing the fact that he was running as fast as he could. As a hitter, Robinson's trademark was his custom-made batting helmet with a 1-inch bill that was much shorter than the standard.
His strong defensive play caused him to be nicknamed the "Human Vacuum Cleaner," as he was so skilled at catching balls hit towards third base. As a fielder, he was always on the move, not typical for third basemen of the time. His arm did not appear to be one of baseball's strongest partly because he was so quick at letting go of the ball. Instead of cocking his arm back before throwing, he would transfer the ball from his glove to his hand and fire it "in one seamless motion," according to Wilson. He had a knack for knowing which play to make, and he was well-known for running towards the plate to field bunts or other slow ground balls. "He didn't have a typical athletic body, he was kind of slump-shouldered, not a real muscular guy, and he didn't appear to have a strong arm," said teammate Chuck Estrada. "But then watching him play, you found out that none of that mattered, because he had great hands, a quick release, and the runner was always out." Jim Murray of The Los Angeles Times wrote during Robinson's career that "In the future, Brooks Robinson will be the standard every third baseman will be measured by"; writing 40 years later, Wilson said "That statement has withstood the test of time."
Following his retirement as a player, Brooks began serving as a color commentator for the Orioles' television broadcasts, travelling to around 50 road games for the Orioles and calling 10 home games as well. In 1982, local television WMAR's on-air news team in Baltimore, Maryland went on strike and picketed the WMAR headquarters for the two months approaching the baseball season. When Robinson refused to cross the picket line, WMAR management reopened the negotiations and the strike ended the next day. He served as a broadcaster until 1993, when he decided to spend more time focusing on his business pursuits.
Robinson's jersey number (5) was retired by the Orioles on April 14, 1978. In 1983, Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, one of 16 players to have been honored on the first ballot (not counting the inaugural class of 1936). He and Frank were the first members of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame in 1977, and Brooks was selected to the Arkansas Hall of Fame the following year. Robinson and former Baltimore Colts football player Johnny Unitas had plaques in their honor in the lobby of Memorial Stadium. When the Orioles played their last game there on October 6, 1991, Robinson and Unitas were invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitches. Robinson threw a baseball, while Unitas threw a football. After the game, Robinson led 119 former Oriole players in uniform out onto the field, where they took their old positions.
A longtime supporter of Scouting, Robinson served for many years on the executive board of the Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scouts of America and is a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award. On December 5, 2006 he was recognized for his accomplishments on and off of the field when he received the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. On May 16, 2007, Radio Tower Drive, a road in Pikesville, Maryland, was renamed Brooks Robinson Drive in honor of Robinson's 70th birthday.
Three statues of Robinson have been created. The first was placed in the Brooks Robinson Plaza outside PeoplesBank Park in York in 2008. On October 22, 2011, the second was unveiled on Washington Boulevard in downtown Baltimore. This statue depicted Robinson preparing to throw out a runner at first base. Present for the unveiling of the statue, Robinson commented that it "gave him more hair than he deserved." The Orioles unveiled a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of Robinson at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 29, 2012, as part of the Orioles Legends Celebration Series during the 20th anniversary of the ballpark.
In 1982, Robinson helped start the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, an organization that helps retired players secure benefits, promotes baseball, raises money for charity, and helps retired players interact with each other. He succeeded Jim Kaat as president of the organization in the late 1980s and was still the head of it as of 2014.
Robinson became a part owner of Opening Day Partners, an organization which owns several minor league teams, in 2005. The group owns four teams in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, and Robinson played a significant role in establishing the York Revolution. Founded in York, Pennsylvania, in 2007, the team was York's first since 1969; Robinson himself had played minor league ball for the York White Roses in 1955. The team's stadium, PeoplesBank Park, is located at 5 Brooks Robinson Way, and the plaza at its entrance is named in his honor. In the 1980s and again in 2006, Robinson helped raise money to restore Lamar Porter Field in his hometown of Little Rock, where he had played baseball while growing up.
In 1961, Robinson became the part owner of Brooks and Eddie Robinson's Gorsuch House restaurant, located near Memorial Stadium. He started Brooks Robinson Sporting Goods in 1963; the company did a great deal of wholesale business with Baltimore-area teams. By the 1970s, they had established multiple locations in the Baltimore area. They briefly supplied uniforms for the Orioles, then later outfitted the short-lived Baltimore Claws of the American Basketball Association. In 1974, the company took out a loan to expand to York, Pennsylvania, but delays in construction of the new store ran the company into debt, forcing it to cease operations shortly thereafter. A judge ordered Robinson's house to be sold in the fall of 1976 to pay the company's debt, but Robinson managed to keep the house by paying nearly $180,000 out of his personal savings. He became a spokesman for Crown Central Petroleum in 1968 and spent over 30 years working for them. After the sporting goods business failed, Robinson and Ron Shapiro founded Personal Management Associates, which managed money for athletes.
He met his future wife, Constance Louise "Connie" Butcher, on an Orioles team flight from Kansas City to Boston in July 1959, where she was working as a flight attendant for United Airlines. He was so smitten with her that he kept ordering iced teas from her. Some of his teammates encouraged him to go talk to her. After drinking his third glass, he returned it to her in the galley. There he told her: "I want to tell you something. If any of these guys, the Baltimore Orioles, ask you for a date, tell 'em you don't date married men. Understand? I'm the only single guy on the team." (Actually, nearly half of the Orioles were single.) Before the plane landed in Boston the two had made a date to go out. Brooks and Constance were married in her hometown of Windsor, Ontario, Canada on October 8, 1960. They have four children: Brooks David (b. 1961), Chris (b. 1963), Michael (b. 1964), and Diana (b. 1968). Raised a Methodist, in 1970 Robinson converted to Catholicism, his wife's faith.
Robinson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, but it was discovered early, and treatments were successful. In 2010, doctors performed a large abdominal operation on Robinson. While recovering from it, he developed an infection on March 31, 2011, and spent nearly a month in the hospital. Even after he was released, further complications with the condition left him weakened the rest of the year. In January of 2012, Robinson attended a charity banquet at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in South Florida. While sitting on the third level of a raised platform on a stage, he leaned backwards, and his chair fell off the platform, resulting in another month-long hospital stay and more rehab. In April 2014, it was reported that Robinson was seeking a multi-million dollar settlement with the Seminole Indian tribe as a result of the accident.