Frank Robinson dead: Baseball's first black manager in MLB dead at 83

Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson, the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame slugger and baseball lifer, died Thursday after a long illness. 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.

Frank Robinson, major-league baseball's first African-American manager, has passed away, the Cleveland Indians confirmed to FOX 8 News on Thursday.

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

However, Robinson was also aware of the challenges he would face as the league's first African-American manager.

"Frank Robinson's résumé in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations", Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said.

Frank Robinson was one of the greatest players and managers of all time.

The Indians opened at home that year and Robinson, still active, batted himself second as the designated hitter. Robinson responded to that judgment with a vengeance. He won the award in 1961 for the Cincinnati Reds in the National League and in 1966 for the Orioles in the American League.

"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. Most recently, he served as a Special Advisor to me as well as Honorary American League President.




Six months later, after Robinson won the Triple Crown and led the Orioles to the pennant, the mayor of Baltimore held a ceremony to rename the street "Robinson Road" for the duration of the World Series.

From the moment he broke into the majors, he was one of the best players in the game.

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. He won National League Rookie of the Year in 1956, hitting.290 with 38 home runs at age 20 for the Reds. His MLB-best marks of 49 home runs, 122 RBIs, .316 batting average and 122 runs scored helped carry the Orioles to their first World Series title. Robinson not only racked up 586 career home runs - still tenth-most in history - but struck out only 789 times while drawing 698 walks.

There is a statue of Robinson outside the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

Robinson was named the player-manager of the Indians for the 1975 season, the first black manager in the game. In all, Robinson managed parts of 16 seasons for the Indians, Giants, Orioles, and Expos/Nationals.

Later, Robinson spent several years working as an executive for Major League Baseball.

Born Aug. 21, 1935, in Beaumont, Texas, Robinson attended McClymonds High School in Oakland, California, and was a basketball teammate of future NBA great Bill Russell.

Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by President George W. Bush.

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