We all know about Brooks Robinson’s exploits at the hot corner; less is known about his jumper from the short corner. That is, unless you were following the exploits of the Major League All-Stars and the Baltimore Orioles basketball teams during the late ’60s.
Long before the Ironman staged pick-up games at his home with fellow major leaguers and college players from around Maryland, Brooks Robinson was hooping it up with the likes of Jim Palmer, Paul Blair, Jim Bouton, Pete Rose, and Jeff Torborg (who caught Sandy Koufax’s World Series perfect game).
In 1966, for example, Robinson joined the Major League All-Stars, described by the New York Times as a basketball team made up of major league baseball players from half a dozen clubs, in games against high school, fraternal, and charitable organizations.
Joining Brooksie on the All-Star squad were teammates Frank Robinson and Dave McNally; Bouton and Al Downing (Yankees); Rose (Reds); Dick McAuliffe (Tigers); Al Jackson (Cardinals); John Orsino (Senators); Torborg (Dodgers); Ed Kranepool (Reds); and Dennis Ribant (Mets/Pirates).
One thing’s for certain: I wouldn’t want to mix it up in the post with Pete Rose even if it were for charity.
Back home in Baltimore, the Orioles’ legendary third baseman competed with faculty members of local schools as a way of staying in shape during the off-season. As this 1969 article from the Washington Afro-American reports, Blair, Palmer, McNally, Dick Hall, Eddie Watt, Pete Richert, Bobby Floyd, and Billy Hunter took to the hardwood with Robinson as part of that effort.
Said Hall, who played college basketball at Swarthmore: “We are looking forward to having a lot of fun with with this while staying in shape at the same time.”
Pictured at the top of this post is a warm-up top worn by a member of the off-season basketball team between 1967 and 1973 that now serves as an auction item. Special thanks to my friend and fellow baseball fan Jon Bloom, who blogs at Wasted Food and BBQ Jew, for the tip.
Image Source: Huggins & Scott Auctions