Baseball Legend Frank Robinson Passes Away at 83

08 February, 2019, 10:54 | Author: Amy Huff
  • Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson dies at 83

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was the only player to win the MVP award in both major leagues.

His legacy, however, was cemented the day he simply stood in the dugout at old Cleveland Stadium as the first black manager in Major League Baseball.

Fearsome on and off the diamond, Frank Robinson was a pioneering member of Major League Baseball who became the first black manager in league history.

"[His] résumé in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations", MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement posted to the league's website.

That December, Robinson was the centerpiece in what would ultimately be one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history, going to Baltimore for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson.

Robinson also won an MVP award with the Orioles in 1966 and remains the only player to win an MVP award in each league after also taking home the title with the Reds in 1961.

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While Robinson was fiery on the field, he was even more so off it as he fought for civil rights for much of his playing career especially once he moved to Baltimore. Robinson responded to that judgment with a vengeance. He also won the Triple Crown while leading the Orioles to their first World Series championship in 1966. "I'm so glad I had the chance to know him all of those years".

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian writes that "Robinson is one of the most underrated superstar players ever to play the game".

Robinson batted.316 with 49 home runs and 122 RBIs during his first season in Birdland. He made 13 All-Star teams. He earned the National League's Rookie of the Year honors in following that season, hitting.290 with 38 homers and 83 RBI in his debut season. And while he never led his league in a Triple Crown category other than in 1966 when he managed it in all three, he led his league in slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+ four times, including three years in a row (1960-62). After witnessing the city's segregated housing and discriminatory real estate practices, Robinson became an enthusiastic speaker on racial issues. Robinson remained with the Indians until 1977, then managed the San Francisco Giants and Orioles.

Though paid only an additional $20,000 to handle both jobs, Robinson took the position knowing his place in history.

Born in Beaumont, Texas, Robinson was raised in west Oakland where he attended McClymonds High School along with future NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell. And he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Mazzone capably did his job for years with metal hooks and became good friends with Robinson. On June 26, 1970, he hit grand slam home runs in consecutive innings.

"Frank Robinson and I were more than baseball buddies", Hank Aaron tweeted.

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