LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Hall of Fame third-baseman Brooks Robinson said Friday that baseball stars of his generation are upset that their place in history could be diminished because new records might have been set by users of illegal substances.
Robinson said he finds it troubling that some baseball players have turned to steroids to help advance their careers.
The longtime Baltimore Orioles player was in Little Rock to attend his 50th high school reunion at Little Rock Central and promote a charity golf tournament carrying his name that will be played in Hot Springs on June 3.
The inaugural Brooks Robinson Celebrity Classic is to benefit the Garvan Woodland Gardens at Hot Springs and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Robinson said he knows in his heart which players have been taking steroids.
"I don't have a lot of sympathy for the guys who do that," he said. "We are a pretty forgiving country. I think I know who did steroids and their records will never ring true to me. I think it is troubling for a lot of us."
Robinson played 23 seasons for the Orioles and became known as one of the best fielding third basemen before his career ended in 1977. He said the game has changed a lot since then. Not only has youth participation in baseball declined, but free agency and large contracts have also changed the dynamics of the sport at the professional level, Robinson said.
"It's a whole new game with the money out there," he said. "It's trying to keep up with the Joneses. They figure, 'This (steroids) is the way I can do it.'"
Robinson said that, when he played, he never saw a teammate or opponent use steroids. He said that some baseball players would take "greenies" -amphetamines that would provide a boost of energy.
"That's the only thing I saw," he said.
Robinson, who lives in Baltimore, said he believes strongly that steroids help players hit the ball longer distances.
"It's a matter of just getting the bat on the ball," he said. "That's what it's all about. Getting your bat through the zone with some speed. You see what those guys do. Frank Robinson was quoted saying, 'Hey, I am going to be way down on the list if this keeps going on.' They don't like it."
Robinson said that, with the growth in the number of teams, there has been a dilution of good pitching and questions about the legitimacy of the numbers that are being put up in the current era, which has heightened the generational divide in baseball.
"I think every player looks back on every decade and says, 'Those guys weren't as good as we were.' But that's human nature, I guess."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun