Years of Service: 23 (1955-77)
Position: Third Baseman
Image via HowStuffWorks
R is a very important letter in the Orioles legacy. For starters, you have Cal Ripken, Jr. and Brooks Robinson, probably the two most beloved Orioles of them all. Plus, you have Frank Robinson, the single best player to take the field for the franchise since the move from St. Louis. All three have had their numbers retired in Baltimore. All three were elected easily to the Hall of Fame and all three were enshrined as Orioles, even though Frank Robinson played most of his career for other clubs. But I decided in the beginning that years of service would be coin of the realm for my A to Z list so Brooks gets the nod here. Even with all of those consecutive games, Ripken's 21 seasons fall short of Robinson's 23. Brooks Robinson is, in fact, the longest tenured Oriole of them all. Only the Red Sox' Carl Yastrzemski spent as many years with one club.
Brooks Robinson is the best ever to field the third base position and he won 16 consecutive Gold Gloves to back that claim. He did plenty of damage at the plate, too, with 268 career home runs. He was league MVP in 1964 and World Series MVP in 1970. In 1999, he was elected to the All-Century team.
Robinson received his highest praise from opposing players. My two favorite quotes both come from Johnny Bench:
(After Robinson was given a car as part of the World Series MVP award) "Gee! If we had known he wanted a new car that bad, we'd have chipped in and bought him one."
"I will become a left-handed hitter to keep the ball away from that guy."
There's also one particularly nice one from teammate Frank Robinson:
"He was the best defensive player at any position. I used to stand in the outfield like a fan and watch him make play after play. I used to think WOW, I can't believe this."
For each letter of the A to Z Challenge, I will feature one player from Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns history. I hope you will join me. I hope you'll also check out the other 1200+ blogs participating. See the full list at Tossing It Out.