York, ALPB mourn the passing of Brooks Robinson

(September 27, 2023, York, Pa.) — The York Revolution joins baseball fans around the world in mourning the passing of legendary Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson. Beyond his myriad contributions to the Revolution’s sport, Robinson held a special place in the hearts of Revolution staffers and fans and Yorkers in general, having started his pro career in York in 1955 and being one of the founders of York Revolution Professional Baseball.

“Brooks was my friend and business partner with the Revs,” said Bill Shipley, chairman of York Professional Baseball. “He was my childhood hero and adult hero. His generosity of spirit, competitiveness, and sense of fairness inspired me and many others. His genuine fondness for York remains a blessing that will always be part of us.”

“Calling Brooks a great ballplayer diminishes him,” said York Revolution President Eric Menzer. “Of course, that is true, but way beyond that, he believed in and supported this city, and he was genuinely a fan and champion of our team. The York Revolution would not be here today without Brooks Robinson.”

Called the greatest third basemen in the history of the game, “the human vacuum cleaner,” and “Mr. Oriole,” Robinson was an 18-time All-Star and the winner of a record 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards. He led the Orioles to six post-seasons, including two World Series Championships.

Long after he retired, Robinson remained a consummate contributor to the game, serving eventually as president of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and later returning to the Orioles as special adviser.

Some of his biggest post-career contributions came in his investments in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Robinson was part of the ownership group that created not just the Revolution, but also the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and Lancaster Barnstormers.

But it was in the town in which he started his own professional career that he would become most affiliated with the Atlantic League. Robinson believed that York was once again ready to embrace a pro baseball team, a successor to the White Roses and York Pirates. He was an integral part of the investment group that made York’s pro ballpark, now known as WellSpan Park, possible and even returned to third base to field the ceremonial first ground ball on the diamond as the park was under construction.

The park opened to the public in 2007. That same year, baseball fans named Robinson the best defensive third baseman of all time in balloting conducted by Rawlings. Robinson elected to receive the award at the ballpark in York in 2008, a few months after the dedication of the Brooks Robinson Plaza, which features a statue inspired by Norman Rockwell’s famous painting of Robinson. The park’s address is 5 Brooks Robinson Way.

Just as it was by the Orioles, Robinson’s number 5 was retired by the Revolution, one of only four numbers to receive the honor in York.

Recognizing Robinson’s own philanthropic efforts over the years, in 2009, the Revolution asked his permission to use his name on an annual fundraiser. Robinson agreed on the condition that the fundraiser support young people in the York area. The Brooks Robinson Golf Classic has benefited York City Little League and the YMCA ever since. For many years, Robinson made appearances at the event to further encourage participation and donations to the charities.

Robinson made numerous appearances at York Revolution games, sometimes without the fans’ knowledge.

“There were a number of times when Brooks would take in a game from a skybox, and no one in the ballpark would have any clue he was there,” Menzer recalled. “He didn’t seek the spotlight. He didn’t want to be the center of attention. But when people did know he was here, he was unfailingly generous with his time, signing autographs and posing for pictures. It was always touching to see dads who wanted to get their kids’ pictures with him, and he never, ever declined. For me, growing up an Orioles fan, it was always a ‘pinch me’ moment to realize that Brooks Robinson was asking how my baseball team was doing!”

Robinson did agree to be spotlighted one final time in 2019, when he served as an honorary co-captain for the Atlantic League All-Star Game in York, sharing the honor with his former Orioles teammate Andy Etchebarren (himself the Revs’ second manager) and York pitching great Corey Thurman.

“Our hearts are with baseball fans everywhere, the Orioles organization, and Brooks’ wife of 51 years, Connie, and their four children and eight grandchildren,” Menzer said. “Our thoughts and thanks, meanwhile, will always be with Brooks. He will be dearly missed.”

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