Although the namesake of the Brooks Robinson High School All-Star Game was unable to attend the annual event at Camden Yards on Monday, the Orioles legend wasn't far from the thoughts of those participating.
"Brooks wants to be here," said K.J. Hockaday, an Orioles draft pick from John Carroll. "We're just praying he gets better."
Robinson's health came in to question when he missed the announcement of the game's rosters Wednesday at the Warehouse at Camden Yards. Mount St. Joseph coach David Norton, who has served as chairman of the game since 1987, said it was only the second time he could remember Robinson not appearing at the roster announcement.
Robinson was released from the hospital Monday and was at home resting, according to the Associated Press. Robinson, a 16-time Gold Glove Award winner, issued a statement Saturday addressing the concerns:
"As you may recall, I was hospitalized in April for a routine procedure. I was recently hospitalized for a follow-up procedure, also routine, and am expecting that I will undergo two additional procedures over the next several months that will provide me with a complete recovery from a prior abdominal surgery."
The 1964 American League Most Valuable Player was treated for prostate cancer in 2009 but has announced several times, including Saturday, that he is free of cancer.
"These are routine and expected procedures and I continue to remain cancer-free," Robinson said. "My wife, Connie and I are asking for privacy with respect to my medical care. Thank you for your kindness."
Despite the generation gap between Robinson and the high school players, the respect for the Hall of Famer runs deep with the youngsters, as several expressed their admiration for the third baseman.
"It would have been a dream come true to have him watch me play," said pitcher Bobby Ruse (C. Milton Wright). "He was my dad's idol growing up."
"He's one of the best Orioles to come through," said infielder Ryne Willard (Smithsburg). "It would have been amazing for him to be here."
While participants were disappointed Robinson couldn't be in attendance, they were thrilled to have the chance to be a part of the annual showcase.
"Obviously it would have been nice if he could have made it," said North team coach Steve Myers (North Hagerstown), "but the opportunity to be out here at Camden Yards, that's amazing in itself for these kids."
Ultimately, the participants sympathized with Robinson's current situation and were grateful for the support that the two-time World Series champion has provided the all-star game over the years.
"We know he wishes he could be here," said infielder Eric Upton (Dulaney). "He's a baseball guy, and we're thankful for all he's done. He's a part of why we're here today."