It's not surprising that fans voted Brooks Robinson the best defensive third baseman ever in balloting conducted by Rawlings last year.

What might surprise some is that the Orioles great will accept his all-time Gold Glove in York, Pa., instead of in Baltimore, the town in which he dazzled at the hot corner.

He is the only living honoree who will accept his award at a minor league park. The decision might further the perception of an uncomfortable relationship between the Orioles and one of their most beloved former players.

But that's not accurate, team director of communications Greg Bader said.

"People are going to draw their own conclusions, but the club has a very strong relationship with Brooks," Bader said. "He is always welcome as our guest at the ballpark, and he has an open invitation to come down to the clubhouse to visit the team at any time. We quite often will ask Brooks to participate in on-field ceremonies, including last year's Hall of Fame send-off for Cal [Ripken Jr.], where he played an important role."

Bader also noted that the club will host a high school all-star game named after Robinson this weekend.

Robinson agreed that he is on fine terms with his former team.

"I have a wonderful relationship with the Orioles," he said. "I've talked to [owner] Peter [Angelos] a few times, and they want someone there who can work for them 24/7. I don't have time to do that."

Asked why he wanted to accept the Rawlings honor in York, he said, "Well, I'm part-owner of the team, and that's where I broke in."

Robinson and the Orioles have not discussed holding a ceremony at Camden Yards. It will be held July 1 at York's Sovereign Bank Stadium.

Robinson's ties to that city are no recent development. He is a part-owner of the independent York Revolution. And this season, the club unveiled a life-size bronze statue of Robinson outside its home park.

The statue depicts a young Robinson wearing his first professional jersey, which he donned for the York White Roses as an 18-year-old in the Orioles' farm system.

Peter Kirk, who leads the Revolution's ownership group, said the club approached Robinson about accepting the Rawlings honor in York.

"We do it because York has this affinity with Brooks and Brooks has an affinity with York," Kirk said. "Brooks felt it made sense because this was where it all started."

The Revolution also devotes a portion of its Web site to commemorating Robinson, and its address is 5 Brooks Robinson Way.

The Hall of Famer's active association with the Orioles, meanwhile, is limited.

Robinson spends one day each spring at the Orioles' fantasy camp in Sarasota, Fla., but other than special occasions, that is the extent of his involvement. He has met with Angelos and executive vice president John Angelos in the past and written proposals detailing ways he could offer his services - appear at spring training and the minor league camp, entertain, sell tickets - but little came of it.

Kirk said Robinson's love for the Orioles remains strong and that he often says "we" when referring to the team.

"He would love to be more a part of it," Kirk said. "I just don't understand why the Orioles can't do more with Brooks."

childs.walker@baltsun.com