Brooks Robinson: The Greatest Defensive Player in Baseball History, at Any Position (5 of 7)

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Game 4

Announcing Game 4, also in Memorial Stadium, is, once again, Gowdy and Kubek from NBC, along with Orioles’ broadcaster Chuck ThompsonScreenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.17.44.png Gowdy: “The 1970 World Series. You’ve watched some of his plays during the first three games – let’s take a review of them. This man, 10 times, has been voted the Golden Glove in the American League, as best at his position – he’ll win it again this year. 13 times he’s made the All-Star team. [Shows play] That was his first great play in this World Series, and he’s been rattling them off, one right after another. Look at that stop! And he converts it into a double-play. His manager Earl Weaver says, “You see him make a great play one day – all you have to do is come back to the ball park tomorrow, and he’ll do it again. The third-baseman is closest to home plate of any infielder, and that’s why he needs the fastest reflexes – Robinson has those reflexes. He’s a natural left-hander – he does everything left-handed, except bat and throw in baseball. He claims that he’s better going to his left than to his right; but it doesn’t matter – coming in on the slowly hit ball, going back on the pop-up, flashing to his left, going to his right – he makes all plays with sure hands, and a steady, accurate arm. [Shows play] Maybe his best play was that one, off the bat of Johnny Bench yesterday: a screaming line drive, with Robinson diving to his left for, with the ball *already by him*, and still made the stop. Always-to-be-remembered plays by Brooks Robinson – the 1970 World Series has been a baseball ballet at 3rd base.” View the two-minute tribute which began the broadcast of Game 4.

Tony Kubek interviews the legendary Mickey Mantle, talking about whether or not the 1970 Orioles compare with the 1960 Yankees (well, of *course* he’s not going to come right out and say the Orioles were better – Mantle was a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor!). He also discusses other issues about the Orioles and the Reds, in a relatively extensive clip. NB: 1960 MVP Voting: 1) Roger Maris (who also won in 1961, and isn’t in the Hall of Fame?!) 2) Mickey Mantle 3) Brooks Robinson Screenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.20.38.png This is can’t-miss TV – Video of the interview.

“Batting fifth, playing third base, number 5, Brooks Robinson” – Screenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.27.45.png

“And the rockets red glare ….” – York Suburban High School Band – Screenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.30.35.png

Throwing out the first ball was announced to be Joe Cronin, but was instead Casey Stengel – Screenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.36.24.png

Gowdy: “Brooks Robinson at 3rd.” – Screenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.40.00.png

Top of the 1st, 0-0, 2 out, runner on 2nd, Johnny Bench up, 3-0 count, Jim Palmer pitching – Bench hits a foul pop-up down first base near the dugout. Boog Powell runs over, tried to catch it with his mitt facing up, but the ball hits the mitt and pops back up into the air. As Powell is falling down against the dugout, nearly falling down the stairs, he somehow manages to catch the ball with his bare hand – this really needs to be seen. Screenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.42.26.png Video of the play.

Bottom of the 2nd, Reds leading 1-0, none out, none on; Brooks Robinson up, 2-2 count, Gary Nolan pitching – After fouling off several balls in a long at-bat, Robinson hits a line-drive home run to left field. Now, for the fourth-straight game, Robinson has hit a game-tying, go-ahead, or game-winning RBI. Screenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.52.04.pngScreenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.52.11.pngScreenshot 2018-01-03 at 02.52.55.png Gowdy: “Brooks Robinson not a *big* home-run hitter, but he’ll hit 18, 20, 25 during a normal year – he had 18 this last year, and he’s now taken the lead in the Series in RBIs – he’s knocked in 5 runs.” Thompson: “That is his third lifetime Series home run.” Video of the play.

Top of the 3rd, 1-1 tie, 1 out, runners on 1st and 3rd, Johnny Bench up, 1-1 count, Jim Palmer pitching – Tolan hits a routine pop-up to very shallow left-center. Belanger goes back, catches it, and throws home to prevent Bobby Tolan from even thinking about scoring – Robinson cuts off the play, making a reasonable decision in the process. Nothing out of the ordinary here, but it did involve Robinson touching the ball, and being in the right position. Screenshot 2018-01-04 at 22.50.42.pngScreenshot 2018-01-04 at 22.52.19.png Video of the play.

Top of the 3rd, Reds leading 2-1, 2 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Bernie Carbo up, 0-0 count, Jim Palmer pitching – Carbo hits a hard, one-hop grounder to Robinson, who catches it, and trots over to 3rd base for the force out, ending the inning. Screenshot 2018-01-04 at 22.55.56.pngScreenshot 2018-01-04 at 22.56.23.pngScreenshot 2018-01-04 at 22.56.27.png Video of the play.

Bottom of the 3rd, 2-2 tie, 2 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 1-2 count, Gary Nolan pitching – Robinson hits a hard line drive which makes the 2nd-base umpire jump in the air to keep from getting hit, scoring the runner on 2nd base. Center-Fielder Bobby Tolan bobbles the ball, allowing Frank Robinson to take 3rd, and Brooks Robinson to take 2nd on the error. Screenshot 2018-01-04 at 23.01.35.pngScreenshot 2018-01-04 at 23.02.14.png Video of the play.

NBC plays a recorded telephone interview with the great, humble Pie TraynorScreenshot 2018-01-04 at 23.09.07.png Gowdy: “Pie Traynor, 71-years old, was voted year-before-last the “Greatest 3rd Baseman of All-Time. Lefty Grove yesterday, interviewed by Kubek, uh, said they were both even – so we called Pie Traynor today, and asked him his personal observations regarding Brooks Robinson.” Traynor: “Well, Brooks Robinson is stealing the whole World Series – he’s a man in a, a spot that it’s unusual for a 3rd-baseman to go and steal a whole World Series, but he is doing it, and he’s having a great play every day, in the three-game [unintelligible] fielding, and also hitting. But he was known as a great ballplayer eight- or nine-years ago, because I had to go to Baltimore, and we had quite a talk and they said this is the coming third-baseman of baseball, Pie, and glad you two got together.”

Bottom of the 3rd, Orioles leading 3-2, 2 out, runners on 2nd and 3rd, Elrod Hendricks up, 1-2 count, Don Gullet relieving Gary Nolan – Hendricks lines a single to right field – Frank Robinson scores easily from 3rd base, and Brooks Robinson is waved around from 2nd base. Pete Rose makes a great throw to Johnny Bench, who makes an even greater tag, getting Brooks Robinson out at the plate. Note that there were three first-ballot Hall-of-Famers plus all-time hits leader Pete Rose involved in just this one play. You can see on the replay that Brooks Robinson was giving his all, trying to get home, but he just wasn’t that fast of a runner, and the slide itself wasn’t one for the ages – the way he drops his batting helmet shows he’s clearly discouraged at being thrown out. Screenshot 2018-01-04 at 23.16.43.png Video of the play


Tony Kubek interviews National League President Chub Feeney – Screenshot 2018-01-05 at 02.58.09.png Kubek: “With me down on the field, the President of the National League, Mr. Chub Feeney. Chub, this isn’t the National League club we saw win that pennant over there – they’re not hitting quite well.” Feeney: “Of course they haven’t been hitting the way they did during the season, but I think you can attribute that to the Oriole pitchers – I think they’ve *played* very well, these are two great ball club – it’s no disgrace to be beaten by this fine club, and of course I Imagine you’ve heard it many times before, the difference in the series so far is that a man named Mr. Robinson’s playing 3rd base for the Orioles.” Video of the interview.

Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 5-2, 1 out, none on, Brooks Robinson up, 2-1 count, Don Gullet pitching – Gowdy: “Brooks Robinson – homered, singled, driven in 2 runs, 2 homers in the Series, leads the Series now in RBIs with 6. I think the best statement about Brooks Robinson’s fielding was made by Sparky Anderson, the Cincinnati manager: He said, ‘I’m afraid to drop my sandwich in the clubhouse – Robinson will dart in and pick it up.’ … He plays ping-pong left-handed. There’s a great game for athletes, ping-pong – keeps his quick eyes and quick hands.” Robinson lines a single between shortstop and 3rd base. Screenshot 2018-01-07 at 20.30.04.pngScreenshot 2018-01-07 at 20.30.15.png Video of the play.

Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 5-3, 1 out, runner on 1st, Elrod Hendricks up, 0-1 count, Don Gullet pitching – Hendricks lines a single between 1st and 2nd base. Robinson takes off, rounds 2nd, and heads towards 3rd. Rose throws towards 3rd from Right Field, and Robinson slides in safely.  But if you take a close look at the left side of this grainy picture, you can see a little orb: Screenshot 2018-01-07 at 20.37.00.png Rose overthrew the 3rd baseman, and the ball went sailing into the dugout – as a result, Robinson was able to trot home and score on Rose’s throwing error. Screenshot 2018-01-07 at 20.39.42.png Video of the play.

Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 5-2, 2 out, runner on 3rd, Mark Belanger up, 0-0 count, Clay Carroll relieving Don Gullet – A somewhat unusual no-pitch situation, as the left-field umpire had run in and called a time-out – this one you need to see in order to understand. Video of the play.

Top of the 7th, Orioles leading 5-3, 2 out, none on, Pete Rose up, 3-2 count, Jim Palmer pitching – Rose hits a weak tapper straight to Powell at 1st base for an easy out, but as you can see from the pictures, Rose immediately turned around to the umpire, claiming the ball hit his foot (if you listen very carefully, you can even hear someone on the broadcast yell, “… foot!”). Rose loses his argument, and is furious with the umpire – based on the audio and visual evidence, I absolutely believe Rose was correct, and the ball was foul.Screenshot 2018-01-07 at 20.54.24.pngScreenshot 2018-01-07 at 20.54.44.pngScreenshot 2018-01-07 at 20.55.13.png Video of the play

Tony Kubek interviews New York Mets’ manager, Gil Hodges – Screenshot 2018-01-07 at 21.07.00.png Video of the interview.

Top of the 8th, Reds leading 6-5, 1 out, none on, Tommy Helms up, 1-1 count Eddie Watt relieving Jim Palmer – Helms hits a medium-speed grounder between 3rd and short. Robinson moves to his left for what seems like a routine play for him, but for whatever reason, the ball skimmed off the top of his mitt, into the glove of Belanger, and Helms is safe at 1st with a single. I’m putting this in the “bizarre” category, because from everything I see from the film, this is a standard ground out for Robinson, even though it was ruled a single. As to what might have happened, I can think of only one possibility, other than Robinson being human, which he surely cannot be: The ball hit a bad spot on the field, and either veered sideways or bounced low. If you watch the slow-motion replay *really* carefully (and you might need to watch it five times), the ball bounces right at the seam of the grass and the dirt. Even though the ball was behind Robinson when he reached out, I’m certain he thought he’d catch it – notice how he snapped his mitt together, as if he was expecting the ball to be in it, then pounds his mitt in disgust when the ball gets by him (on the slow-motion replay, which is a much better perspective). He could – and always did – dive for balls out of his reach, but in his mind, he thought sure he had this grounder, and it was at Memorial Stadium where he was familiar with every speck of dirt. This play is just downright odd – Robinson wasn’t even fully extended, he wasn’t moving at full-speed, and absent a bad bounce, I would have had no problem with them ruling this an error. Unless someone asks him what happened, nobody will ever know. Screenshot 2018-01-07 at 21.09.37.pngScreenshot 2018-01-07 at 21.09.08.png Video of the play.

Top of the 8th, Reds leading 6-5, 1 out, runner on 1st, Clay Carroll up, 0-0 count, Eddie Watt pitching – This is a very clever play by Carroll: He fakes “bunt” in such an early, obvious way that Robinson has almost reached home plate by the time the pitch arrived. But at the last moment, Carroll instead takes a half-swing, and tries to bounce a grounder over Robinson’s head – it might have worked, had the ball not gone foul. Screenshot 2018-01-07 at 21.14.39.pngScreenshot 2018-01-07 at 21.14.47.pngScreenshot 2018-01-07 at 21.14.52.png Video of the play.

Bottom of the 8th, Reds leading 6-5, 2 out, none on, Brooks Robinson up, 3-2 count, Clay Carroll pitching – Well, he did it again: Robinson lined a single to the right of the shortstop, giving him a 4-4 day at the plate. Gowdy: “Robinson has just tied a Series record, which has been done many times, of getting four hits in a Series game.” Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 13.54.41.pngScreenshot 2018-01-30 at 13.55.04.png Video of the play.

Tony Kubek interviews Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager, Danny Murtaugh (the Pirates would go on to defeat the Orioles in both the 1971 and 1979 World Series)  – Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 14.16.33.png Video of the interview.

Bottom of the 9th, Reds leading 6-5, 2 out, none on, Merv Rettunmund up, 3-2 count, Clay Carroll pitching – Wow, this was a weird one: Rettunmund hit a routine grounder to Perez at 3rd base (who, by the way, has played a *fantastic* 3rd base in this Series, and his performance should not be forgotten). Perez threw wide, pulling May off of first, but he tagged Rettunmund out, ending the game. But wait a minute: the tag knocked the ball out of May’s hand, and Rettunmund was safe after all, allowing the Orioles to maintain one, last gasp.Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 14.24.28.pngScreenshot 2018-01-30 at 14.24.33.pngScreenshot 2018-01-30 at 14.35.19.pngScreenshot 2018-01-30 at 14.37.03.png Video of the play.

Lee May, who has terrorized the baseball in all four games, hit the two-run homer that gave Cincinnati the 6-5 win. Robinson’s best day at the plate simply wasn’t enough to pull this one out.

Final Score: Reds 6, Orioles 5 – Box Score

Brooks Robinson’s Cumulative Statistics:
Slash Line: .500 / .500 / .938, OPS: 1.438, Hits: 8, Doubles: 2, HRs: 2, RBIs: 6, Runs: 4
Total Chances: 21, Putouts: 8, Assists: 12, Errors: 1, Double-Plays: 2, Fielding Percentage: .952

Continue to Part 6

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