Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson died yesterday. I was lucky enough to see him play when I was growing up, albeit at the tail end of his career. In addition to writing the book on how to play third base, he was also the American League MVP in 1964, when he hit .317, slugged 28 homers, and knocked in a league-high 118 runs. A very special ballplayer.
From a Uni Watch perspective, Robinson was notable for two reasons. The first was his unique truncated batting helmet brim, which was immortalized on his 1975 Topps card:
Robinson began wearing the stubby brim around the same time he began wearing an earflapped helmet in the 1970s. Here are some additional views of it:
Why did he wear this custom brim? Here’s how he explained it on his blog in 2006:
“When I got the helmet with the flap and put it on, it seemed like the bill was a little longer than my normal [helmet]. The flap was a little longer and consequently when I went up to hit, I could see the brim and part of the flap. It made me lose my concentration. I took care of it by taking a hacksaw blade and cut about 1½ inches off the brim and about a half-inch off the flap. That’s how I got my short brim.”
The other big uni-related storyline during Robinson’s career was the solid-orange uniform that the Orioles wore for a few games in 1971 and ’72. Robinson owned a sporting goods store at the time, and the team actually ordered the uniforms from his shop. As a result, there are more photos of him wearing the orange unis than of any other player. Here’s a sampling:
Obviously, it’s not an ideal baseball uniform. But it had a saving grace: a magnificent inner tag design. Check this out:
Oh man, how great is that? Here’s another look at it — a slightly crisper photo from a different garment:
I love that they included his uni number — twice! — on the label design, just so you’d know it was him. R.I.P., Brooksie.