Hall Of Famer Frank Robinson, The Black Manager In The MLB, Dies At 83
Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson died at the age of 83. Throughout his playing career, he notched 14 all-star nominations and became the first and only player to win the MVP in both the American and National league. He would later become the first black manager in the MLB, leading teams in both leagues from the dugout as well.
“Frank Robinson’s resume in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “He was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career.”
Robinson reached the majors with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956. The Reds had only signed a black player two years prior and Jackie Robinson was still in the last year of his career. However, Frank had the most dominant rookie season ever at the time, hitting a then-rookie record 39 homers and getting an all-star nod. At 25, he won his first MVP and led the team to the pennant. However, in 1966 Cincinnati would ship him off to the Baltimore Orioles, figuring that the 30-year-old wouldn’t replicate the 33 homers and .296 average he had done the last season. Instead, he proved the Reds wrong. Though he only led the league in average, homers and runs batted in once each, he did it all in the 1966 season. If not for Carl Yastrzemski hitting for the triple crown the next year, Robinson would’ve been remembered as the last ballplayer in 46 years to achieve the feat. Regardless, he won his second MVP and the first of two World Series titles that year. Both were feats Yastrzemski would never achieve.
“Frank took us from being a good team in 1965 to being a great team in 1966,” Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer told the Baltimore Sun. “I’m glad Cincinnati thought he was ‘an old 30’ when they traded him.”
Robinson was named player-manager of the Cleveland Indians in 1975, becoming the first black manager in Baseball. He would also manage the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals before retiring. Born in Beaumont, Texas, Robinson was raised in West Oakland, California. He attended McClymonds High School along with future NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell.
The Robinson family has asked that instead of flowers contributions in Robinson’s memory can be made to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennesse or the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.