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For the ones who were fans

 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.


May he RIP. I'll check to see if I have a spare 67'
POISON75 said…
The 71 topps card is iconic for Brooks crawling through the desert saying water water lol. Anyway Mr. Oriole is his name how I now dread in finding a raw version of his 67 card 1 of 3 that remain on my 67 set. I will always remember the paper back book of his "Third Base is My Home" & finally Brooks who was born in Arkansas idolize another 3rd baseman from Swifton,Arkansas by the name of George Kell & both played when Brooks started his career with Baltimore & both later were baseball announcers then both were inducted to Cooperstown the same year in 1983 now both men a reunited again. Brooks Calvert Robinson Jr. Will be missed by this baseball historian.
1984 Tigers said…
I was old enough to remember him, being 12 when that 75T beaut came out. I was in little league and I mean NO ONE wanted to play 3rd base. I played catcher one year just to avoid having a good RH pull hit rip a shot at me in the Hot Corner.

I believe I have every single main topps issue of him. Not the 70 71 topps super cards or things like 1971 greatest moments (if he's in that set, not sure). About 15 years ago I finally found a EX+ quality card (not slabbed!) Of the 67 high number on eBay. I had been searching for years and refused to buy a graded version. I've been lazy about beginning the gradual sell off of my collection (blessed with two daughters and a son in law who could care less about baseball, so the proceeds will go for family vacation trips). That Brooks as well as Tommy John (last card of 67 set) and Carew rookie will pay for some hotels and good food.
Nick said…
RIP, Brooks. My dad has long told me that the '64 Brooks Robinson was the one big "old" card he owned as a kid. I bought the '71 at a show when I was first getting into collecting 20-25ish years ago - it's a weird photo, but I love it. (And I'm determined to get a copy of his '57 Topps day.)
Chris said…
Nice tribute, Night Owl. I never met Brooks, or saw him play (he retired before I was born) but I enjoyed collecting his cards. The 1970 WS highlights were amazing to me, and your story tracks with a lot of what I'd heard about him as a person.

At one point, 10-15 years ago, I considered collecting an entire run of Robinson Topps cards. I got the '68 and '69 Topps in high grade - but that '67 stopped my project cold. The only other playing-era Robinson I purchased was that '71 WS highlight. Sure, his '71 base card is a rough photo choice but he had some fantastic cards then - and in recent years as well (the all-orange O's jersey comes to mind)

RIP to an Oriole legend.
Old Cards said…
Got to see him play in his prime in the 60's. His fielding was something else.

Johnnys Trading Spot might have a 'spare' 67 Brooks Robinson! Wow!
beefman said…
That 1971 Robinson has always been one of my favorite cards of all time. I have no idea why! One man's trash...
Bo said…
My favorite Brooks Robinson card is in the '67 set but not *that* one.
#154 with him jumping several feet in the air as the Orioles win the WS against the Dodgers. Guessing you don't like that one as much.
1984 Tigers said…
On a nice Saturday while on a business trip to Delaware, I made my way to Camden Yards to go on a stadium tour. It was real cool not only sitting in the dugout but going to the upper deck private suites. They had a lot of pictures and memorabilia, including a photo of Brooks. He also has a statue outside the stadium. Not bad winning 2 world series. They darn near won another vs Pittsburgh in 71. That orioles team from 1966 to 1974 was amazing. 4 Al championships, 2 other AL east titles where they lost to Oakland. Missed playoff only 67 and 68. I love the #1 card of the 67 set with both Robinsons and Hank Bauer.
Doc Samson said…
Very nice tribute, Mr. Owl. It is also interesting to see how the Orioles’ uniforms and caps have evolved thought out the years.
AdamE said…
I'm curious, do you recall what card your brother had signed?
night owl said…
I don't remember. It may not have been a card.
NOBODY has a "spare" 1967 Brooks Robinson card. LOL
Fuji said…
Never had the privilege of pulling a playing days Brooks Robinson card out of a pack. In fact, my first card of his came out of a box set (1982 Kmart). Pretty sure that's where I discovered a lot of the big names in baseball.
Jon said…
I like the '71 action photos (a lot), but that one is easily the worst of the bunch.