Major League Baseball pioneer and member of the Hall of Fame Frank Robinson died February 7 in his Bel Air home at the age of 83. While no official cause of death was given, he had been in failing health recently. MLB reports that Robinson was surrounded by friends and family at the time of his death.
In 1947 Jackie Robinson (no relation) crossed the colour line when he became the first man of colour to play professional baseball with white players.
In 1975 Frank Robinson again broke the colour line when he became the first man of colour to manage a Major League baseball team when he became the player-manager for the Cleveland Indians.
In his first game as a player-manager, Robinson was the Indians’ designated hitter and hit a home run his first at bat, helping his team to beat the New York Yankees.
Along with managing the Cleveland Indians, Robinson also managed the Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants, the Montreal Expos, and the Washington Nationals. His uniform number 20 has been retired by the Reds, Orioles, and Indians; the teams have erected statutes of him outside their stadiums.
Robinson again made history when he was the first player to win the Most Valuable Player Award in both the American and National Leagues – the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds.
Robinson has also won Baseball’s Triple Crown and was on the World Series team in 1966 when the Orioles took the crown. Robinson played in five World Series and hit a homer in each of them.
The outfielder earned his way to 14 All Star teams, earned his way into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility, was a Rookie of the Year, and a Gold Glove winner. In 2005 President George W. Bush presented Robinson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Never above taking one for the team when the opportunity presented itself, Robinson would stand very close to the plate in the batter’s box which got his hit by a pitch 198 times in his 21 year career.
He hit a total of 586 home runs, one of which complete left Memorial Stadium in Baltimore – the only player to do so. The ball was later found under a Cadillac in the parking lot some 541 feet from home plate.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke on Robinson calling him, “a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations.”
After retiring from the game, Robinson worked in an executive capacity for Major League Baseball.
He was born on August 31, 1935 in Beaumont, Texas but was raised in Oakland, California where he played high school basketball with Bill Russell. A 20 year old Frank Robinson broke into the Major Leagues in 1956; his 38 home runes and 122 runs scored helped Robinson earn the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
He is survived by his wife Barbara and daughter Nichelle.
By Unknown – Manny’s Baseball Land via tradingcarddb.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75026868