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Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson guest of honor at surprise virtual birthday party thrown by Orioles

The coronavirus pandemic couldn’t bring Orioles great and Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson out to celebrate his 83rd birthday Monday. So the organization brought the party to him.

In a 55-second clip posted to the Orioles’ Twitter account, Robinson — an 18-time All-Star, American League Most Valuable Player and two-time World Series champion — was feted via a virtual birthday celebration by former teammates Boog Powell, Jim Palmer and Eddie Murray and successor Cal Ripken Jr.

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Jennifer Grondahl, Orioles senior vice president of community development and communications, said Tuesday that the organization’s various departments hatched the idea as COVID-19 prevented the franchise from recognizing Robinson at a game at Orioles Park at Camden Yards.

“We wanted to celebrate Brooks in a big way, and we didn’t want the social distancing thing and all of the other restrictions to stop us,” she said. “So that was our way of saying, ‘Brooks, we love you, and everyone loves you.’”

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Grondahl said others who appeared during the session were Gov. Larry Hogan, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, pitching coach Doug Brocail, field coordinator Tim Cossins, third base coach Jose Flores, right fielder Trey Mancini, first baseman Chris Davis, third baseman Rio Ruiz, nine children named Brooks, and the Sullivan family from Tampa with children Brooks, Palmer and Ripken. The challenge was squeezing everyone into the hour-long celebration, which began at 6 p.m.

“We know so many people that wanted to be a part of the celebration for Brooks,” she said. “So I’m not surprised by the response. Brooks is such a gentleman, and he’s just so beloved by our organization. Not only has he had a legendary career, but he’s a legendary person.”

The video, which was posted Monday at 11:20 p.m. and has already more than 49,000 views and 800 likes, promised that “the best stories were told tonight.” The tweet also said a longer version will be posted on YouTube Tuesday.

The clip began with Robinson, nattily attired in a button-down shirt and blazer, noting that his final season with the Orioles in 1977 coincided with Murray’s rookie debut.

“Eddie came to the Orioles in 1977, my last year, and I taught him everything I knew, and you see Eddie hit 500 home runs,” quipped Robinson, who was no slouch himself with 268 home runs.

“Did you get him released or was that Rick Dempsey?” jumped in Palmer, a six-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner.

“He knew he couldn’t keep up with me after he saw me in my first year,” said a chuckling Murray, an eight-time All-Star who was named the American League Rookie of the Year that season. “So he thought he better retire. ‘I can’t keep up with this kid.’”

The video then segued to Ripken joining the group, which prompted Murray to joke, “Look at the head on that guy. Is that Cal Ripken?”

The clip ended with Ryan Wagner, the public address announcer at Oriole Park at Camden Yards introducing Powell, adding, “It’s not really a party unless Boog Powell is here.”

Powell, the four-time All-Star and 1970 American League Most Valuable Player, recounted Robinson greeting his father Charles for the first time.

“When he dropped me off in front of the ballpark, Brooksy was standing out front, and he walked over to my father, and he said, ‘Mr. Powell, don’t worry. I’ll take care of him.’”

Retorted Robinson: “No one can take care of you, I’ll tell you that.”

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Grondahl said Robinson was “tickled” by the attention.

“A lot of the guys were calling him Mr. Robinson, and he said, ‘Do not call me Mr. Robinson,’” she said. “And he was still giving out a little bit of advice and being very optimistic and motivational about what the team was like when he signed with the team and the transition that it went through, and I think through our rebuild, that was a very important message. So I think he liked it.”

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