Baltimore Orioles legend Robinson speaks out on Hall of Fame, steroids - LancasterOnline: Sports

Baltimore Orioles legend Robinson speaks out on Hall of Fame, steroids

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Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 8:48 pm | Updated: 9:59 am, Fri Sep 13, 2013.

Brooks Robinson is a Hall of Fame third baseman, so he knows what it takes to gain entry into the hallowed shrine.

Nicknamed the "Human Vacuum Cleaner" because of his glove work at the hot corner, Robinson retired in 1977 after a 23-year career spent entirely with the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson was inducted into the Hall in 1983.

In Lancaster on Tuesday - taking part in an event announcing both a five-year extension of the stadium naming rights deal between the Lancaster Barnstormers and Clipper Magazine and a new five-year deal for manager Butch Hobson - he said he was not surprised that no players garnered enough votes to be inducted into Cooperstown this year.

"It's a hard place to get into, first of all," Robinson said. "I knew that the guys like (Roger) Clemens and (Barry) Bonds and (Sammy) Sosa weren't going to get in (this year). They're going to get in. It might not be in my lifetime but they're going to get in.

"I don't say they should get in, but I think they're going to get in sooner or later.

"These guys were Hall of Famers before they started the steroids, so that's hard to figure."

Robinson said one can't equate the "greenies" - the nickname for the amphetamines popular in his era - with taking steroids.

"It was like coffee," Robinson said. "People (would) take it for weight loss and things like that."

But Robinson believes players using steroids have an advantage.

"It wasn't a level playing field," he said. "The guys who were not doing it, they're maybe looking at these guys who are doing it and they say, 'Well, I'm never going to get there (to that elite level).'"

Robinson was a career .267 hitter. His best season at the plate was 1964, when he was named American League MVP after hitting .317 and recording 28 homers and 118 RBIs.

But it was his glove that got him in the Hall of Fame. Robinson earned 16 straight Gold Glove awards from 1960 to 1975.

He turned in a stellar performance, robbing members of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine of hits numerous times to win the 1970 World Series MVP award. He also hit .583 in that series.

In recent years, Robinson, now 75, has had some health issues. He had prostate cancer and also had to have a tumor removed from his pancreas.

"That threw me for a loop," he said of the tumor, which turned out to be noncancerous. "They told me it was there and growing rapidly."

Last year he fell and broke his scapula and and four vertebrae in his back.

"The shoulder is pretty good, but the back still bothers me," he said. "But I'm doing well. I'm on my way back."

He still sees a lot of his old teammates, keeping in touch with - among others - former York Revolution manager Andy Etcherbarren, Boog Powell, Paul Blair, Jim Palmer and Dick Hall.

Last year he flew to Orlando to take part in a golf tournament hosted by former teammate and current Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

"That was my first trip in a long time in a plane," Robinson said. "I think it was more for my psyche than anything else."

Robinson, a partner in Opening Day Partners, the group that owns the Barnstormers, told a couple funny stories at the Tuesday's event.

And then afterward, he did what he did his entire career. Working the room, shaking hands. Only this time, he was scooping up admirers as he once scooped up baseballs.

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