One of this town's all-time sports greats joined Babe Ruth and Johnny Unitas today as athletes immortalized with statues in Baltimore.
And with the grace that made him perhaps the best defensive third baseman in the history of baseball, former Oriole Brooks Robinson thanked the city and his supporters for the statue that will reside at Washington Boulevard Plaza between Washington Boulevard and Russell Street, directly across from the northwest side of Oriole Park.
"To all my friends out there, you've always been good to me. I just want you to know I have never considered you fans. I've always considered you my friends.Thank you for the way you've treated me over the years," he said, choking back tears. "Never did I expect to have a statue, let alone a statue 300 yards from a statue of the greatest player in major league history – Babe Ruth. And another 300 or 400 yards is the statue of the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Johnny Unitas, a dear friend of mind that I miss very much."
The statue depicts Robinson preparing to throw out a runner at first base. It weighs more than 1,500 pounds and is positioned on a base that is approximately 25 feet by 25 feet, with a series of risers leading to the 4 ½-tall pedestal. Highlights and statistics from Robinson's Hall of Fame career adorn the risers and pedestal.
"I'm amazed [the sculptor] gave me a little more hair than I deserved," Robinson said of the statue. "We had a long talk about that."
Robinson played 23 seasons with the Orioles and was the 1964 American League Most Valuable Player and 1970 World Series MVP.
Henry A. Rosenberg, a Baltimore businessman and longtime acquaintance of Robinson, conceived the tribute to him in 2004. The Dorothy L. and Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. Foundation and the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation presented the statue to the city.
"When you have a statue dedicated to you, that's a wonderful tribute," said Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. "The fact that it's nine feet tall is appropriate because his accomplishments and his humanity towers above others."
The fans who attended the event had Robinson's legacy firmly in mind.
"Brooks was a great player, and I enjoyed watching him," said Mike Brusca of Hamilton. "I think he is the best third baseman to play the game, and not just for the Orioles."
Pam Meyers of Ellicott City watched the unveiling with her husband Ron. "We love Brooks, My husband has been a brooks fan since he was a little kid. He went to the Hall of Fame induction," she said. "He's the type of ballplayer who should be your children's idol."
"It's what he means: his loyalty to the city, his integrity," Ron added. "He's everything you want in a person."