Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Baseball legend and trailblazer Frank Robinson dead at 83

Baseball legend and trailblazer Frank Robinson dead at 83

After his tremendous playing career, Robinson became the first African American manager in Major League Baseball.

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

Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1982, with 89.2 percent of the vote. Robinson won his MVP awards with the Reds in 1961 and the Orioles in 1966.

"With that 1966 season, Robinson became the first - and remains the only - player to win the MVP in both leagues".

Robinson also led the Orioles to another World Series title in 1970.

In his first game in 1975 managing the Cleveland Indians, Robinson batted himself second as the designated hitter and belted a home run in the first inning. Robinson would go on to have managerial stints with the San Francisco Giants, which made him the NL's first black manager, as well as the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos during their transition into the Washington Nationals.

On Dec. 9, 1965, the Cincinnati Reds traded Robinson to the Orioles for pitchers Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson.

Originally, Robinson did not have himself in the lineup that afternoon at Municipal Stadium, but his boss, Tribe general manager Phil Seghi, talked him into it by saying "Frank, this is your day". Josh Hart, a young outfielder, didn't know who Robinson was, and manager Buck Showalter assigned Hart to write a one-page report on Robinson. He hit.323 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs and led the majors in slugging (.611), OPS (1.015) and intentional walks (23) for a 93-61 Reds club that lost in the World Series to the New York Yankees.

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The slugger spent some 21 seasons in the league, which were spent between the Cinncinati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Anaheim Angels and Cleveland Indians.

"I knew there was going to be an terrible lot of pressure, a lot of expectation and a lot of unhappy people because when things went right, fine, but when things went wrong, it was going to be doubly bad because of me being the first black manager", Robinson said.

Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, who played on a high school basketball team with Robinson according to ESPN, called his longtime friend "one of the greats".

Though he did not have a standout run of success in that job, with a 1065-1176 lifetime record as a skipper, Robinson later went on to take a prominent role in MLB operations and remained a highly respected member of the baseball community throughout.

Robinson had coached for the Orioles and worked in their front office when he became their manager in 1988 after the team opened at 0-6.

Traded to the Baltimore Orioles, he excelled for six seasons, including two World Series wins and a World Series MVP Award in 1966.

After breaking into the big leagues in 1956, Robinson would not hang up his baseball cleats until 2006, following his fourth stint as an MLB manager.

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