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Brooks Robinson's grandaughter remembers loving, humble Orioles legend: "He was so loved"

Brooks Robinson's grandaughter remembers loving, humble Orioles legend: "He was so loved"
Brooks Robinson's grandaughter remembers loving, humble Orioles legend: "He was so loved" 05:59

BALTIMORE -- If you're a baseball fan you know the name Brooks Robinson. The 'human vacuum cleaner' was a Hall of Fame third baseman, 16 gold glove winning, 23-season Orioles champion.  

Sadly, Thursday marks the first opening day since 1955 that Brooks won't be either playing, attending or watching his Orioles begin their season. He died in September at the age of 86. 

It's been a tough 6 months for his fans, but, most of all, for his family, as we hear from one of his grandchildren.

Madison Farley is one of 10 Robinson grandchildren scattered around the country. At 29 she, of course, never saw him play.

"I like to come and say hi to him," Farley said at the towering Brooks statue at Camden Yards. "I mean, this looks a lot like him. Really yea, I feel there's a lot of likeness."

Madison's been coming to the ballpark all her life, yet she never knew her 'papa,' as she calls him, was a big deal. Until he came to her school. 

"During grandparents day when all the other grandparents would point and say, 'there's Brooks,'" she said "'That's Brooks Robinson.'"

"He was so beloved," she said. "Not just by his family but also by his fans, you know, Baltimore loved him.

Love on full display in 2011 when his statue was unveiled. Brooks tearing up that day. 

"How deeply grateful I am for this incredible statue," he said at the time. "Thank you from the bottom of  my heart. Thank you."

"He was an emotional guy," Madison said. "He wasn't afraid to cry or get deep."

Brooks' likeness, and his number five, will always be a reminder that the greatest third baseman in the history of baseball played for the hometown team.

Madison said five is her lucky number, as she was born on July 5 as well. 

Number five retired in 1977. Brooks and his wife Connie, their three boys and one daughter were there for him as a city, a ballclub celebrating 'Mr. Baltimore.'

"When you never wanted to do anything in your life except put on your uniform and play baseball that goodbye becomes very difficult," Brooks said at the time, teary-eyed.

Brooks and Connie's Owings Mills home is filled with photos, but in his office, most of the memorabilia is gone. World series rings, jerseys, MVP awards and 16 Golden Gloves. 

All of it was auctioned in 2016 to set up the Constance and Brooks Charitable Foundation. Fitting for a man called a "hall of fame human."

"He was a man of great humility," Madison said. "He was just a really decent person."

But he knew how beloved he was.

"And he loved it," Madison said. "He loved going to Chili's. He would go to Chili's all the time and he was the biggest celebrity at Chili's and he loved it." 

Madison also recalled a talent he might not have been known for. 

"He had a crazy memory," Madison said. "Especially when it came to baseball. He could recall any World Series whether he played in it or not."

But his favorite memory, according to Madison, one he told over and over, was how he met his wife of more than 60 years.

"My grandmother was a flight attendant, and my grandfather boarded the flight and apparently they locked eyes right away," she said. "And apparently, he kept going up to her asking for lemonade, and by the end of the flight he had secured a date. And I think like 9 months later they were engaged."

Madison treasured the time she spent with her grandfather.

"I was so lucky to have lived my whole life 5 minutes from him,"I will just always treasure sitting on the couch with him and he'd say, 'hi baby' and just, you know, hold my hand. That's what I'll remember, you know, those quiet little moments of just love."

Love until very end. 

"Of course, it was shock and it's still hard for us you know," Madison said of Brooks' death. "But he lived a really beautiful long 86 years. He had a good life, and he knew he did."

The Constance and Brooks Charitable Foundation is now controlled by his children, and they say they'll be deciding how to distribute the money, thanks to fans and collectors from around the world.  

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