In a line of four, perhaps 40 feet apart, Brooks, Basil, Bud and yours truly moved slowly into the low-lying cover. The sun was coming low through the trees and the ground was moist and pliant underfoot. The dogs worked beautifully, staying always within sight as they moved, tails working, noses drawing in the scents swirling over the misted leaves and mud, selecting and discarding until "Bird! Maybe two!" Basil Smith's call seemed to coincide with the abrupt halt of both dogs.
"Okay, Brooks and Bud," said Basil. As the camera crew steadied their lens, one behind them, the other to one side, Robinson and Leavitt moved carefully forward. Then came the thrilling sound of beating wings, not two but four woodcock lifted into the morning at different angles. Three shots were fired. Four birds fell.
Basil growled "dead bird" to his dogs and as they went about the retrieval process Bud looked at Brooks in amazement, then at me. "Wait 'til I tell Williams about this development. He won't believe me."
Brooks Robinson, with his first woodcock at-bats, was hitting 3 for 2.
Brooks, always humble, always kind, shook his head and said, "Wish I could have done this against the Mets."
"If you had," I said. "They wouldn't have been called the Miracle Mets."
"Maybe not," said Brooks. "Maybe not."
Tough losses die hard
What a competitor. That morning in the Maine woods was eight seasons after the Orioles lost the World Series to the Mets in five games. Robinson made more great plays in that single series than some all-stars make in a season.
But he was still mad about losing. Whenever I think of truegrit on the
baseball field, the image of Brooks Robinson at third base emerges with the
suddenness and clarity of a flushed woodcock in the Maine woods along the Airline.
If, someday, those old American Sportsman shows see the light of television, watch for Brooks Robinson going 3 for 2 on woodcock.
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