After a trying few years, Orioles legend Brooks Robinson 'getting stronger every day'

Hall of Fame third baseman appears at fundraiser with Bob Costas for Casey Cares Foundation

May 16, 2014|By Peter Schmuck | The Baltimore Sun

Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson has been through a lot over the past several years, but he clearly hasn't lost his sense of humor.

During a question-and-answer session before joining NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas for a fundraiser at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills to benefit the Casey Cares Foundation on Friday night, the legendary third baseman was asked whether there was one play during his career that he wished had been subject to Major League Baseball's new video review system.

"No, I think the [1970] World Series, that probably stands out more than anything else, and I see that plenty of times,'' he said of the Orioles' five-game win over the Cincinnati Reds, a series highlighted by his standout defense. "I look at it every morning when I get up. It kind of spurs me on."

Robinson certainly seems a lot more like his old self. He endured a lengthy struggle with a serious medical condition that made it difficult just to show up for the unveiling of his statue outside Camden Yards in 2011, then regained his health, only to be severely injured in a fall at at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida. Robinson is asking for nearly $10 million in damages.

"I'm doing OK,'' he said. "I'm doing pretty good, getting stronger every day. I went through two or three different things, but I'm doing OK now and I'm looking good. It was [very discouraging], but by the grace of God, I'm here. That's the way I feel. I'm doing OK."

He's not all the way back to full strength, but he's back in his old routine, dropping in on the four independent minor league teams he holds a stake in with Opening Day Partners; showing up at charity events such as Friday's, which benefits critically ill children and their families; and watching from afar as the major league franchise he led to prominence continues its three-year resurgence and sits atop the American League East standings.

"My gosh, I just say it's about time,'' he said. "I think they've got the right people in place now, at least I think so. I'm happy for them. They're competitive. They could win it very easily, but right now it's a pretty good match for everyone."

Robinson sees what everyone else sees: an Orioles team that needs more consistency from the starting rotation and more production from its talented offensive lineup.

"I think the Achilles' heel is going to be the pitching, more than anything else,'' Robinson said. "If they can work that out and get guys into the sixth or seventh inning, it's going to be a big plus for them. They've struggled some and they've played well some, so they've got a chance."

Costas is in town to broadcast Saturday's Preakness, but he never tires of talking baseball wherever his schedule takes him. He said he also has enjoyed the Orioles' renaissance, having grown up during an era in which they were the American League's winningest franchise.

"They have an interesting team,'' he said. "They have not only a good manager, but an entertaining manager. Everybody loves Buck. He makes the game more fun. Also, they have a great venue. It's like, for years and years, I said, 'If only the Pirates had a good team, people would really appreciate what a wonderful ballpark they have.' And when Camden Yards first opened, the Orioles were a good team, and then they fell on hard times for a long time. Now you come back to Camden Yards and you have this beautful setting for a contending team, so it's cool."

The resurgent Orioles feature another third baseman who might be the best in baseball right now, and Robinson doesn't mind hearing people compare Manny Machado's defensive flair to his own.

"He's made some unbelievable plays," Robinson said, "but the thing that amazes me is the way he went from shortstop to third base. He played spring training for 30 or 35 games and he did just a marvelous job last year at third base. It's like he'd been there his whole life. He's got a great arm and he's just going to be here for a long time. He's struggling a little right now with the bat. That's the toughest thing to really sustain and get going, but he's going to be fine."

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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