Major League Baseball is in the throes of opening week and Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson was at a hockey game Thursday night. As a guest of CSN Mid-Atlantic and the Laughlin family, Robinson came to Verizon Center to see the latest iteration of the Capitals Penguins rivalry.

Nicknamed “The Human Vacuum Cleaner,” Robinson won 16 Gold Gloves and two world championships with the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson is considered one of the greatest third basemen in major league history. Former Capitals player Brooks Laich is named after the beloved Orioles infielder.

During the first intermission, I spoke with Robinson. Brooks explained his hockey fandom, what position he would play if he were a hockey player, and his thoughts on his historic Major League career.

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Brooks Laich First Pitch (23 of 24)

Photo credit: Chris “Effing” Gordon

Brooks Laich threw a strike.

That’s kind of his modus operandi. Ever reliable and always competent, Laich excels at pretty much everything he does. And before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles game on Monday, Laich gave time to the media on a variety of issues. He nailed that too.

In the interview, Brooks speaks at length about his fan allegiance (split between the Orioles and Expos), how his struggles in the postseason extended to youth baseball, and his totally appropriate adulation of Cal Ripken.

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Brooks Laich First Pitch (20 of 24)

Photos by Chris Gordon

Now that the Washington Capitals have been eliminated, it’s time to move on to other things: country music concerts, junior hockey games, and, tonight, baseball!

Caps players seem to love America’s pastime. Some of them prefer a game of catch over the traditional pregame soccer kickaround. Some of them are filthy Blue Jays fansBrooks Laich is a fan as well, and on Monday he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before game between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Laich also got an extensive tour of the O’s clubhouse from All Star closer Jim Johnson, a noted New York Rangers fan.

Laich, a righty, managed to throw (sort of) a strike, just like Alex Ovechkin did a year ago. His pitch to outfielder Chris Dickerson was a little outside, but he gunned it in there.

“He said ‘Just don’t bounce it,’ which is what everybody said,” Laich recalled Dickerson as saying. “I said ‘I’m gonna bring it in there’ and he goes ‘YES! Finally somebody’s gonna throw it! Bring the heat!'”

“It was awesome!” added Laich. “A lot of people asked me ‘Are you gonna be nervous?’ You’re used to preforming in front of people — maybe not in this environment but it was more exciting.”

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Photo credit: Kyle Mace

A group of superstar athletes, including Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, signed for fans at an autograph show in Chantilly, Virginia last week. Also appearing at that show were two men, one named after the other. Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich and Baltimore Orioles great Brooks Robinson signed autographs, and at the end of the event, they finally met.

A few days later, Laich posted a photo of the two on Twitter with the caption, “Special honor for me to meet the man I was named after, Orioles HOF 3rd baseman Brooks Robinson, absolute class act.” That made Capitals and Orioles crossover fans very happy.

Laich told Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post about the experience. “A lot of times we see fans who are sort of awestruck meeting us; for me, that was the reverse side of it.” Laich said he called his dad right after meeting the “Human Vacuum Cleaner” to tell him about the experience. Laich said meeting the baseball Hall of Famer was on his bucket list.

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We already knew Jane Laich was totally awesome, but today came another wrinkle. Brooks Laich, her handsome hockey playing son, revealed today that mom and dad named him after Baltimore legend Brooks Robinson. “Special honor for me to meet the man I was named after,” Laich said after taking a picture with The Human Vacuum Cleaner on Wednesday. “Absolute class act.”

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