This is the first Brooks Robinson card I ever saw.
I was into my third year of collecting before I pulled his card. Never saw his tremendous '75 Topps card nor his '76 card. Instead, I pulled his final solo card (excluding the Record Breaker card in '78).
I thought he looked old. Too old to be playing. And what was with the card number he received in 1977 -- No. 285? A number ending FIVE? Wasn't he really good or something?
I just didn't know very much about Brooks Robinson then.
Had I known, and been older, maybe I wouldn't have liked him, him and Frank Robinson and Palmer and all those guys who did a number on the Dodgers in 1966. And, still, I didn't care much a few years later, when my brothers and I went to a card show where Robinson was signing. I was there for the cards, let my brother, the Orioles fan, get in line for Brooks.
So he did. I've told this story on the blog before, but it was like 12 years ago and I have other readers now. My brother, he's the youngest of us three, stood in line and I think my other brother was with him because my Orioles-rooting brother was quite young and maybe not able to stand in line by himself.
But he knew his Orioles and he knew that both he and Robinson had the same birthday. May 18th.
When it was his turn to have something signed by Robinson, he told him that they both had the same birthday. Robinson turned to the man he was with and said, "Another one, huh?" and they chuckled.
I recall my brother being irked by that but I'm sure he doesn't care anymore. I meant to text him when I heard the news of Robinson's passing, but I was in the middle of a really hectic work day and by the time I got out at 2 a.m., I only had brain cells left for viewing a couple of videos before I passed out.
Robinson was my first "experience" with live autograph-signing, even though I didn't get anything signed. (My appreciation for non-Dodgers had not blossomed). It seems that almost every collector has some sort of experience with Robinson, the vast majority of them positive, that's the way he was.
But my one-degree-of-separation is all I've got for my Robinson connection. What I can tell you about is his cards.
This is it. This is the card that I referred to a few paragraphs ago. This may have been one of the cards that jumped out at me during my first visit to the Hall of Fame in '75 when they had a big display of the entire '75 set. I've loved it ever since.
Once I gained this card, I had only five 1972 Topps cards left to get. I know that because my blog told me so.
I received this card from my longtime collecting buddy Greg, a former blogger, who I still communicate with on newer social media. There's a lot of talk about how Topps did Robinson dirty with some of its photo choices. I think some of that was Robinson wasn't the most photogenic guy -- didn't have that camera face he could slip on -- but also he wasn't super gregarious either.
But this card -- wow -- that's just not cool, Topps.
I don't care what anyone says, I've always liked this card.
Here is my 1959 Brooks! You've seen this on the blog before. It is easily my worst-conditioned signed card. It's a lot of fun.
Then there's this card. It might be the first Robinson card I showed on this blog. If you didn't have the context, you could think you were looking at an overhead shot of someone crawling in the desert. (This is not my copy, I ran out of time).
I showed this card on the former Twitter earlier today. It's notable because of the back.
It's nothing but fielding stats. When have you ever seen that?
It's from this insert set from 1993 Ted Williams, kind of nifty that that carved out a set just for him, 15 years after his retirement.
I admit, when I obtained this set, it was a little weird for me. I'm not an Orioles fan, it seems like an Orioles fan should have it. But I've always been a bit odd about insert sets -- they must be specific to my interests for me to collect them.
TCDB says I have 68 Brooks Robinson cards. I was surprised I had so many. I know one that I don't have -- the 1967 card.
If I ever get that one, then maybe I can say I'm a true orange-and-black fan of Robinson.
But for now, this is for the other fans. Sorry you lost your guy. What a player.