What a tremendous feat! Only three other players in the history of the game achieved 3,000 hits and 500 home runs: Eddie Murray, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. To accomplish this, you need to have consistency, hard work, determination and good health. Raffy did it! Certainly, he will be in the Hall of Fame. I like the way he goes about his work — no publicity, quiet and unassuming. This has got to be the quietest accomplishment I’ve ever seen. He really started to come on strong as the O’s progressed during the season. Congratulations!
DODGERS AND THE 1966 WORLD SERIES
I enjoy hearing from baseball fans. Syxx8 asked me about my hitting experiences at Dodger Stadium and my first World Series in 1966. Well I can tell you, the 1966 World Series was my favorite moment of all. That’s when we won the World Series for the first time. We were close in 1960 and 1964 but didn’t quite make it. But in 1966 we did make it. Frank Robinson came over from Cincinnati and that put us over the hump. But Dodger Stadium — that was exciting. We were playing The Dodgers with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. The only player on our team who had any experience was Frank Robinson in 1961. Then, to hit a home run in my first at-bat — that was exciting — back-to-back with Frank Robinson. He hit one then I hit one. That was probably the biggest moment of the whole World Series simply because that gave us a little momentum and made us feel like we could win. The Dodgers didn’t play very well. They had the lowest team batting for a losing team and we had the lowest team batting average for a winning team in World Series history. In the last 3 games, the Dodgers didn’t score.
It was a big thrill. I’ll never forget hitting that home run. Dodger stadium was a pitcher’s park but it didn’t make and difference wherever Koufax or Drysdale pitched whether it was a hitter’s park or a pitcher’s park — they were great pitchers.
ALL-STAR GAME MEMORIES
John asked about my experiences from the All-Star Games. Well, I just came from Detroit where the All-Star Game was this year. I remember playing in the All Star Game there in 1971. I hold the record for playing on the most losing All Star teams of any player in major league history. I didn’t win too many. 1971 was one of our victories. There were 20 players off those two teams that went to the HOF along with 2 managers. So, I thought that was a pretty good All Star Game. I happened to be the first player in 1966 to be picked MVP from a losing team. We lost in extra innings out in St. Louis.
It always was a thrill to me to get together with the players I played against like Mickey Mantle, Carl Yastrzemski and Al Kaline and just have a great time and be relaxed and try to win an All-Star Game.
It was very competitive when I played. It was one league against the other and you wanted to show what league was the best. I think the National League was better because they started signing the African American players earlier — like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Ernie Banks. They turned out to be very talented and great players. The game had gotten away from the competition and it became more of a Hollywood production. But now home field advantage does mean a lot. Just look at the Red Sox last year. So I’m glad to see an emphasis on winning again.
Nick from Northern York asked me if I’ve ever been to Dillsburg. I sure have. My first year, I was 18 years old and I came to York, Pennsylvania to play for the White Roses. It was a thrill. I still have a lot of great friends from that team that live in the area and I talk to them every now and then. York couldn’t have been a better place to start my first year in professional baseball. I had a wonderful manager in George Staller. He was the one who moved me from second to third base. He thought third base would be better for me.
I’m looking for York, PA to get a Minor League team. I think it is going to happen and I think it’s going to happen in the next couple of years. York needs baseball. I think you can see what happened in Lancaster (www.lancasterbarnstormers.com). It’s been a wonderful success. Families and kids have a ball. That’s what minor league baseball is all about.
Tom, it’s great to hear from you. I’ve always enjoyed the fans more than anything else. In my early days with the Orioles I tried to answer all my mail. I had a couple ladies at the Orioles that helped me send out postcards and pictures and I’m glad you still treasure that postcard. I do appreciate it. The fans have brought my kindness back tenfold for me. I walk downtown now and someone will yell, "Brooks, you signed my ball in 1970." I worked for the O’s in 1960, 1961 and 1962. I was going to about 4 banquets a week and earning $125/week. It was an unusual time. I had just gotten married and I was looking for a job. I really enjoyed it because I got a change to meet the fans.
The O’s have had a great first half and are getting off to a good start in the second half. I think it’s going to be like this all year. You have a guy like Miguel Tejada — what a tremendous player he is. He’s the spiritual leader of that team. Of course, when we started winning ball games and getting into the World Series back in 1966, Frank Robinson came over and just by the way he played on the field carried us over the top. So I think Tejada can do the same thing. They have a great team and I don’t see anyone running away and hiding. I do have a feeling the Wild Card team is going to come out of another division. Our division is very competitive. One of the teams will have to win the division to get in the playoffs.
Don’t forget to visit my official site at brooksrobinson.com!