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Through the Looking Glass: Brooks to ... Brooks?

Brooks Robinson’s expression is matched by that of his four-year-old son, Brooks David, during the Orioles’ annual Father and Son game at Memorial Stadium in 1965. The youngster went on the play baseball at Loyola High and is now an investment banker living in La Grange, Ga. His dad’s likeness hangs in Cooperstown.

Sun file photo by Paul Hutchins


Mr. Oriole. The greatest ever!

I really like this Toy Dept. blog. I am a native Baltimorean who followed the Colts, Orioles and Bullets while growing up in the 1960s and 70s on Westwood Avenue in the city's Rosemont section and still follow the O's and Ravens from Ithaca, New York. It brings back memories.

This year, from a historical standpoint, is poignant for me as I recall the events of the Baltimore sports world of 40 years ago, 1969: the year the Colts, Bullets and Orioles lost in the postseason to New York's Jets, Knicks and Mets (of course, the SB III and '69 World Series losses were upsets of historic proportions).

But I also remember the Orioles' 109 win season as they dominated the AL and swept the Twins in the first ALCS (memorable for me because I saw on TV the rare instance of the O's great defensive shortstop, Mark Belanger, hitting a home run in the first-ever ALCS game eventually won by Paul's Blair's bunt single to score Belanger). I recall Dave McNally winning his first 15 games before the streak ended on an August Sunday in Minnesota in a game when the Twins' Rich Reese hit a grand slam (I watched this game on WJZ-TV, Channel 13).

I also remember Jim Palmer's no-hitter against the A's that same month, recalling the late and venerable Chuck Thompson's exclamation on WBAL radio at the end of the game--"Palmer has pitched a no-hitter!"--which set me and a childhood friend to rejoicing loudly on my front steps late that night, summoning my mother to the door to tell us to quiet down. The neighbors had to go to work the next day and were in bed.

I also recall the return of Johnny Unitas from the elbow injury that altered his career and the Colts' stumble out of the game to begin the '69 season and never quite recovering (despite an 8-5-1 record), losing the home opener to the archrival Rams and being pummeled by the Vikings the following week, 52-14, on the strength of Joe Kapp's record-tying 7 touchdown passes.

Not long after that game Don Shula benched the last of the remaining veterans of the 1958 NFL Champions, save Unitas: linebacker Don Shinnick (eventually released), to make way for future Hall of Famer and rookie Ted Hendricks, and cornerback Lenny Lyles (also Unitas' college teammate at Louisville) for rookie Tommy Maxwell; and the shift of All-Pro strongside linebacker Mike Curtis--who should be in the Hall of Fame--to middle linebacker, a position perfectly suited for his onfield temperament.

Then there were the Bullets of Earl the Pearl, Wes Unseld and Gus Johnson, bolstered by the presence of a rookie named Fred "Mad Dog" Carter from St. Mary's, who won a playoff spot again but were beaten again by the Knicks. They had to wait until next year to finally vanquish the Knicks to reach the NBA finals for the only time during the team's Baltimore years.

Thanks, Mike, for evoking the memories!

Thanks Ken C Jr for really evoking the memories.

Thanks Bob, that was a good read.

I remember that picture, I have it somewhere in this house. It was in an Orioles yearbook from either 1965 (that one had '64's three AL award winners on it - the reigning MVP, Rookie Pitcher of the Year, Manager of the Year) or 1966 (that had 4 sluggers point their bats together - Brooks, Frank, Boog amd Merv). There were always pictures of Kids Day at the Stadium for the players to bring their children out on the field before a game. Being 8 or 9 at the time, I was jealous that they got to do that. If only my dad had been an Oriole back then?

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