LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock native, Brooks Robinson, arguably the greatest 3rd baseman in MLB history has passed away at the age of 86. His career was filled with great awards, memories and plays.
Robinson was a 2-time World Series Champion in 1966 and 1970, winning the MVP in 1970. He played for the Baltimore Orioles for all of his 23 seasons in the MLB.
Brooks Robinson was named an all-star 18 out of his 23 years with the Baltimore, but before that greatness made it to Baltimore, it was played at Lamar Porter Field for the Little Rock Doughboys in the early 1950s.
The Doughboys was Robinson’s American Legion team and was coached by George Haynie.
Diane Lyons is the daughter of Haynie. She said she knew Robinson was more than capable of the career he had from watching him play for the Doughboys.
“We went to all of the games at Lamar Porter Field,” Lyons said.
She said Robinson was “very committed” and practiced constantly. Robinson also played his high school baseball at Little Rock Central High School.
“My dad recognized early that Brooks was an extraordinary athlete,” Lyons said.
Lyons noted that Robinson was one of the youngest members on the Doughboys but outshined everybody.
“My dad was very committed to helping him and thinking that he could be a major leaguer someday and of course he was,” she said.
But on top of being an extraordinary athlete, Lyons said Robinson was an extraordinary person.
“Yes, I was friends with Brooks but more truthfully I idolized him,” Lyons said.
She said she idolized Robinson because not only was he a great baseball player, but he was also always nice and had a kind word for everyone.
“He’ll be remembered for those qualities as much as his athletic ability,” Lyons said.
The man known as the human vacuum cleaner was a 16-time Gold Glove Award winner and was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1983.
One of the reasons Lyons is so happy to call him a friend is because of an article she read that quoted Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker.
Baker, a Black man who entered the Majors in 1968, spoke about Robinson, calling him a “real gentleman.”
“I never heard anything negative about him, ever. And he was on a team that with the Orioles had a number of African American players. I think they had 10 or 12. They all loved him,” Baker said. That’s saying a lot. Especially back in that day.”