Brooks helps celebrate Camden, 'thrilling' young O's

August 7th, 2022

BALTIMORE -- Brooks Robinson has called Baltimore his full-time home since 1960, the year he won All-Star honors for the first of 18 times in his illustrious career. He’s witnessed some great Orioles teams -- been a part of their most historic -- and some of a lesser caliber. He knows how much the city flocks to a winner, embraces the underdog.

And he knows how much it’s thirsted for something like this 2022 team.

Robinson, making his first appearance at a game since 2019 as part of the club’s 30th anniversary celebration of Camden Yards, was asked by manager Brandon Hyde to address the Orioles before Saturday’s 6-3 win over the Pirates, Baltimore’s fifth in a row. His message, after Hyde recited the Hall of Famer’s “mind-boggling” resume?

“I just want to tell you guys, you absolutely have been thrilling me,” Robinson said in a video captured by the team. “I watch all the games. You've been thrilling the people of Baltimore, they've been waiting for this for a while. It really is something."

Robinson reaffirmed his belief when meeting the media after the festivity of the day, with Orioles from across the lifespan of Camden Yards honored via a pregame ceremony.

“Well, I told them they really have been thrilling me,” said Robinson, now mostly an avid watcher from home after recent health challenges. “I've been watching a lot of games, and I think the community is getting into it now, and that's what it's all about. It's not an easy game. But as Mike Elias said, 'I think it's liftoff time.’ And I believe that, too.”

“He had a lot of good words to say about us. That comes a long way from two Hall of Famers,” said Ryan McKenna, his two-run pinch-hit double in the fifth serving as Saturday’s game-winning swing. “There's so much history in the game, and he was such a big part of it. It felt really good. I think it gave us a little bit of confidence going in today.”

Robinson was speaking alongside fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Murray on Saturday, each maintaining roles with the organization in recent years, each maintaining close bonds with one another.

Both were joined by other individuals invited to take part in the weekend of festivities, Mike Mussina, Robert Andino, Chris Hoiles, Ubaldo Jiménez and Rick Sutcliffe headline the group. Cal Ripken Jr. couldn’t make it because of a scheduling conflict, but he offered a video to commemorate the ballpark he helped make famous.

"They really are playing and doing it in an exciting way,” Murray said in the ballpark where he hit his famed 500th home run.

Asked about the new left-field wall, Murray quipped: “I’d still hit it over."

All fan favorites on hand -- as well as the second-largest home crowd this season at 41,086 -- were treated to a show. The O’s scored early and produced unrelenting traffic en route to their fifth consecutive victory on the backs of allowing three or fewer earned runs in their sixth straight game.

A fitting way to pay tribute to the “ballpark that forever changed baseball,” Baltimore is 31-20 through its first 51 home games this season, its best mark in such a span since beginning the 2016 home slate 37-14.

“It felt like 40 -- I don’t know, how many people were there? -- 41,000 Orioles fans were in the building," Hyde said.

Hyde and the entirety of his roster stood in the dugout -- or in the case of starter Austin Voth and catcher Adley Rutschman, in the bullpen -- to watch Oriole legends before them take center stage at Camden Yards. Hyde wanted his players to appreciate the moment, a visual component to follow Robinson and Murray’s pregame appreciations.

No one’s words in addressing the team would have meant as much as Robinson’s, the greatest defensive third baseman in history as a 16-time Gold Glover who brought two World Series to the city, the second coming as the Series MVP.

His words carry weight -- no matter the generation of fan or age of Oriole.

“I think people really get turned on when the club plays like they're playing right now,” Robinson said. “I can just see it when I watch the game on TV, how the fans [react], how the fans really show you what's going on, the young people especially. They're really up for it. And actually, it excites me.”

“Priceless day for our guys,” Hyde said.