When I was growing up in
back in the 1950s, the city carried the moniker of ‘Monumental’ because it had more statues and monuments per capita than maybe any other Baltimore municipality. From the US in Washington Monument Mt. Vernon to Battle Monument on Calvert Street, Baltimore’s marble and granite commemorations of glories past were notable and numerous.
In recent times our monumental tradition has continued, expanded from its usual salutes to local politicians and military heroes by bronze tributes to iconic figures from
’s burgeoning world of sports. Baltimore
To wit: in 1995 a statue of George Herman Ruth was unveiled at
at Camden Yards. It seemed fitting that Ruth, as the city’s most famous native son and the most celebrated name in international sports to this day, would be the first athlete so honored in Oriole Park . Baltimore
Seven years later the Johnny Unitas statue became an important part of the M&T Bank Stadium landscape, a place where thousands of fans would come to mingle before Ravens’ games, forever mindful of what their high-topped quarterback meant to
, and to the NFL. Baltimore
But if Ruth and Unitas were so honored, wasn’t there someone equally deserving of a public gesture of permanent tribute? The answer, as any good
sportsperson can attest, is yes, of course, because if you honor the Babe and Johnny U, you have to do the same for baseball’s ‘human vacuum cleaner,’ Brooks Robinson. Baltimore
This Saturday, October 22,
’s third sports statue will be unveiled in the Baltimore Russell Street plaza just north or , this one commemorating the greatest third baseman in Major League Baseball history. Brooks Robinson finally takes his iconic, rightful place with Ruth and Unitas. Oriole Park
Ruth is important here because his rags-to-riches, unparalleled greatness uniquely demonstrates the hard-scrabble mettle of the blue-collar
from which he sprouted. Ruth illustrates Baltimoreans’ innately toughness, and their capacity for achieving the highest heights of any profession. Baltimore
Unitas and Brooks, while not native sons, did more through their breathtaking, hall-of-fame careers to change the dreadful profile of post WW2 Baltimore than any other athletes or citizens, before or since.
As both men started their pro careers here in the middle 1950s,
was regarded as not much more than a rest stop between Baltimore and Philadelphia . But, quickly, Unitas and Robinson turned their respective Colts and Orioles into championship franchises that became the toast of the nation. In lightening fashion, the city they represented was re-branded as ‘ Washington .’ Titletown, USA
Make no mistake, the unveiling of the Brooks Robinson statue this Saturday is an important, long overdue moment in the history of our
, an occasion when we provide Brooks his rightful place of prominence among Monumental City ’s “ Baltimore Mount Rushmore” of sports statues.
There will never be another Brooks Robinson, and we finally get to thank him for all he has done, and for all he has meant, to his adopted hometown community along the shores of the Patapsco. I hope to see you all on Saturday for the unveiling of the Brooks Robinson statue.
Go to brooksrobinsonstatue.com or baberuthmuseum.com for details.
Mike Gibbons is the executive director for the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, Inc.