I was still young at time but recall watching the 1964 World Series. I remembered the game when hobbling Mickey Mantle cracked a ninth-inning homer to beat the Cardinals in Yankee Stadium.
Of course the MVP awards went to the winners. The World Champion Cardinals had third basemen Ken Boyer win the big award. And the Yankees had Mantle or Roger Maris or Bobby Richardson.
Well, maybe not.
In 1964, the Yankees won 99 games. The second place Chicago White Sox were just a game back with 98 wins. In third place came Baltimore, two games back with 97 wins.
Baltimore had the MVP that season. It was the summer that Boog Powell had a career-high 39 homers. Spark plug Luis Aparicio stole a league-high 57 bases.
No, it was Brooks Robinson. Yes, the greatest fielding third baseman in the history of the world.
He played in every single Orioles game. He had a career high 194 hits but that was only two hits more than two other seasons he had. He was second in the AL to Tony Oliva (Minnesota) in that department.
He did hit a career-high 28 homers that season but again there were bigger homer run threats even in his lineup. Harmon Killebrew hit 49 homers that year for the Twins.
Robinson led the AL in RBIs that season with 118. He edged Boston’s Dick Stuart along with Killebrew and Mantle. And Brooksie hit .317 which was a career-high and was also good for second in the league behind Oliva.
In the pennant chase of 64, the O’s and Yankees didn’t play each after Aug. 16. That game in Baltimore went to the Yankees 3-1 with the only run for Baltimore that Sunday afternoon coming on Robinson’s 20th homer of the season.
On Sept. 25, the O’s were in second place four games back of the Yankees. That night, the O’s topped the Indians behind Robinson’s single and 30th double of the season. He drove in 2 more runs in the 10-6 win.
The Orioles of 64 would finish strongly that season winning 9 out of their last 10 games. In that same time, the Yankees went 6-4.
The race tightened and this MVP candidate was up for the challenge. The next game with the Indians went to Baltimore 5-3. Robinson cracked his 27th homer against Luis Tiant. The sweep came by a 4-0 score. Robinson drove in a run.
Baltimore would finish with games with Washington and Detroit. In those five games, Robinson would go 9-for-20 with five doubles. He would also homer and drive in four runs against the Tigers.
He was not only the baseball writer’s choice for MVP but also the Sporting News choice as well. Brooks got 18 first place votes to Mantle’s two votes.
I was in the stands for Thanks Brooks Day in 1977. I think I stepped on some woman’s hand while cheering on Brooks. We both apologized but we were both crying so hard. It was so stinking emotional. What an amazing third baseman that we were so lucky to have for so many years.