Frank Robinson, first African-American MLB manager, dies at 83


He was a 14-time All Star, two-time World Series champion and the only player in history to win the Most Valuable Player award in the American League and the National League. He had recently been in hospice care. MLBTR extends its condolences to the Hall of Famer's family, friends, and many acquaintances around the game. 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. His impact was immediate and memorable.

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. In the first inning, he homered off Doc Medich and the crowd went insane, cheering the whole April afternoon as Cleveland beat the Yankees. He has had his number 20 retired by the Reds, Orioles, and Indians. Robinson became manager of the San Francisco Giants in 1981, becoming the National League's first African-American skipper. Robinson later led the Expos/Nationals franchise through its move from Montreal to Washington.

"It was a breaking period for black people coming into baseball, and how many followed depended on Jackie's conduct", he said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Robinson's time in Ogden lasted one year: the following season, he was promoted to the Tulsa Oilers in the Class AA Texas League.

No one embarrassed Robinson and no one intimidated him either. In 2005, Frank was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, for 'setting a lasting example of character in athletics'. But it was on the diamond, rather than court, where fame awaited Robinson.

Robinson played 21 seasons in the Majors, for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians.

Though he retired from playing following the 1976 season, he continued to be a part of the game as a manager for many years. Extremely alert on the bases, he had 204 steals. "And he led his league in runs scored three times, in being hit by pitches seven times and in intentional walks four times".

"Frank Robinson and I were more than baseball buddies", Aaron tweeted. "I wouldn't let that pitcher get me out". "He challenged you physically as soon as he stepped into the batter's box, with half his body hanging over the plate", Hall ace Bob Gibson once wrote.

But Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton says Robinson's legacy goes far beyond the numbers.

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"The kid actually said, 'Holy cow, I knew he was famous, but I didn't know how", Showalter said.

Robinson crafted a Hall of Fame career from deft skill with the bat and a fiery personality. He made 13 All-Star teams. "He was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career", Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday in a statement.

Horton says Robinson's intensity on the field and charming personality and kindness off it "set the standard" for the next 12-15 years in Baltimore when he joined the Orioles in 1966.

In 1975, Robinson became player-manager of the Cleveland Indians. He would again win a World Series title in 1970. The cap on his Cooperstown plaque carries on O's logo. He was also baseball's first black manager.

"I remember the first game I ever managed [for Baltimore] in 1968".

Tough and demanding, he went 1,065-1,176 overall as a big league manager.

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.

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