When Brooks Robinson took the game to a higher plane

No matter that 48 years have passed since the 1970 World Series. For those privy to Brooks Robinson’s performance that October, the memories endure. With glove and bat, the Orioles third baseman dominated the five-game victory over Cincinnati and made his pitch for the Hall of Fame.

Time and again, Robinson robbed batters with diving stops and backhand stabs to crush Reds rallies. One minute, he speared an ankle-high rocket to steal a hit from Johnny Bench; the next, he retired slugger Lee May, snaring a ground smash 15 feet past the bag and, off balance, throwing him out by a whisker.

May called Robinson “the human vacuum cleaner” and asked, “Where do they plug Mr. Hoover in?”

Said Cincinnati manager Sparky Anderson: “I don’t see how anybody could do what this guy does. If I dropped my sandwich, he would dart in, scoop it up on one hop and throw me out.”

Moreover, Robinson starred at bat: a game-winning home run in Game 1, an RBI single the following day and a pair of doubles and two RBIs in Game 3. The Reds won the next one, but the Orioles’ No. 5 went 4-for-4, with another homer. In the finale, a 9-3 victory, Robinson struck out in his last at-bat but still got a standing ovation at Memorial Stadium.

His fielding and .429 batting average earned him the Most Valuable Player award and a new Toyota. Afterward, reporters sought him out in the clubhouse.

“He’s not at his locker yet,” a team official said. “But four guys are over there interviewing his glove.”

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

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