Frank Robinson: Legend

Mark R. Bacon—Main Event Sports DC

Hall of Fame outfielder Frank Robinson died on Thursday after a battle with bone cancer. Robinson had been in hospice care for several months in Southern California as he dealt with ongoing health issues.

During his 21-seasons in the MLB, the legendary baseball star made major league baseball history as the first African-American manager when he managed the Cleveland Indians during the last two years of his playing career. The Indians compiled a 186–189 record under Robinson, who finished with a .294 careers average including 586 home runs and 2,943 hits.

When Robinson retired in 1976, his 586 career home runs were the fourth-best in history–good for 10th today.

The 14-time All-Star started his career with Cincinnati in 1956, taking home National League rookie of the year honors in his inaugural season when he hit a rookie-record 38 home runs for the Reds. Robinson went on to play for five teams during his more than two-decade long career, winning the Triple Crown in 1966 with the Orioles during the same season that he won his first World Series championship–and was voted World Series MVP–with Baltimore.

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.

The legendary outfielder won another title with the O’s in 1970 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. He continued to stay involved as a manager long after retirement, spending time with the San Francisco Giants as the National League’s first African-American manager, and later with the Orioles, Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals.

Robinson compiled a 1065-1176 (.475) record over parts of 16 seasons, winning the 1989 AL Manager of the Year award with the Orioles. He spent the last 12 years working in different roles in the Commissioner’s office, most recently serving as a senior advisor to Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Manfred issued the following statement:
“Frank Robinson’s resume in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations. He was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career. Known for his fierce competitive will, Frank made history as the first MVP of both the National and American Leagues, earned the 1966 AL Triple Crown and World Series MVP honors, and was a centerpiece of two World Championship Baltimore Orioles’ teams. 

“We are deeply saddened by this loss of our friend, colleague and legend, who worked in our game for more than 60 years. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Frank’s wife Barbara, daughter Nichelle, their entire family and the countless fans who admired this great figure of our National Pastime.”

Robinson’s family asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions in Frank’s memory can be made to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee or the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.

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