Brooks Robinson: Still lovin' baseball at 70 Print
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Thursday, 14 June 2007 08:53
MLB Headline News

 ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) -How convenient that Brooks Robinson's business office is located across the street from a golf course. Nothing like 18 holes after lunch to round out the day.
Robinson enjoys playing golf. He loves baseball even more, which explains why the Hall of Fame third baseman will spend his senior years doing more than just lining up putts and traveling around the world.
Robinson is part owner of Opening Day Partners, which owns and operates minor league and independent baseball teams. Sure, Robinson serves as an ambassador for the firm, because almost everyone in and around Baltimore remembers his sensational 23-year career with the Orioles.
But he is not merely a figurehead. Robinson's responsibilities include interviewing managers and coaches for the three teams currently owned by ODP: The Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers, the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks and the York (Pa.) Revolution, which is playing its inaugural season this year.
Before becoming a part owner in April, Robinson spent four years as a special assistant to the group. Then he told Chairman Peter Kirk that it was time for a change.
``I said, 'Peter, everyplace I go people think I'm part owner. When I tell them I'm not, they look at me funny. So it kind of makes sense if I had a small piece of the team,''' Robinson said.
Robinson recently helped the group petition the Maryland legislature for money to help finance a team in Waldorf, which is scheduled to launch its season next year. He was also asked to throw out the first ball June 15 at York's home opener.
But Robinson works when he wants to - the lone stipulation he made upon accepting the responsibility of joining the ownership group.
``I don't want to do something that's going to take up all of my time because I'm doing other things, too,'' Robinson said. ``I play in a lot of golf tournaments, I'm making a lot of speeches, I'm on the go a lot.''
So, when it comes to picking baseball personnel, Robinson joins the fray. He's there for news conferences, opening day ceremonies and fundraisers. But he has no intention of making it a 9-to-5 job.
``I'm happy doing just what I do. I don't want to do any more. I'm 70 years old now and I'm having a ball, just doing the things I want to do,'' Robinson said.
That's just fine with ODP President Jon Danos, who values Robinson's guidance and enthusiasm.
``He appreciates minor league baseball and what it represents to these communities,'' Danos said. ``He loves the game at this level, loves the people. He just flat out enjoys this. And on the non-baseball side, he has a great influence on the community.''
Robinson has lived in Baltimore since 1960. While with the Orioles - the only team he ever played for - he won the 1964 MVP award, participated in 18 All-Star games and received 16 Gold Gloves. In the 1970 World Series, he earned MVP honors by gloving virtually every ball hit to third base by the Cincinnati Reds.
Now, in retirement, Robinson is helping provide a setting that gives young players a chance to display their talent for major league scouts.
``It's a good starting point for a lot of guys,'' he said. ``Every guy on that field still has that dream of making it to the big leagues.''
Robinson lived the dream long ago. His fondness for baseball hasn't waned since his rookie year, but now he's no longer willing to dedicate his entire life to the game - or the Orioles.
``I've had meetings with (Orioles owner) Peter Angelos, but we've never been able to work anything out,'' Robinson said. ``The bottom line is they want someone to be there every day, and I'm not able to do that. I told Peter I can go to spring training for a couple of weeks, I'll talk to some of the kids in the minor leagues, I can do a TV game, I can entertain. But I don't want to be there 24/7.''
And so, he will remain a part of Opening Day Partners, seemingly for as long as he wants the job.
``We're just thrilled to have him. We think Brooks can add value to the company,'' Danos said. ``I think he appreciates the fact that he doesn't have to get on an airplane to see us or to see the teams. He adds tremendous value on the baseball operations side, and he has a personal touch that you need in this industry.''
Robinson is easily recognized, too, especially in York, where he started his career as a minor leaguer in 1955, and in Baltimore, where he became one of the most popular players in the history of the franchise.
``I can walk downtown with my hat off, and I'll have five or six guys hanging out the door of their car yelling, 'Hey, Brooks, you gave me an autograph back in '64. You signed my baseball,''' Robinson said. ``Everywhere I go, it seems I signed something for someone. And most people have stories, which is nice.''
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On the Net:
Opening Day Partners: http://www.openingdaypartners.com
 

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