Hall of Fame slugger Frank Robinson has passed away at the age of 83.
Robinson spent part of 21 seasons as a player in the majors. Over that span, he hit 586 home runs (in 33 different ballparks); tallied almost 3,000 hits; and drove in more 1,800 runs. Thanks in part to a fearless stance that placed his head and hands in the way of many a fastball, Robinson was also hit by a pitch on 198 occasions — ninth most in MLB history. “Nobody had more guts at the plate than Frank,” Earl Weaver once said. “He actually curled his upper body and head over the plate and dared pitchers to hit him.”
He made the All-Star team 12 times won and is the only player to win the MVP award in each league. Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982 on the first ballot. He’s rightly remembered as one of the most feared right-handed batters in baseball history, and he’s one of just 21 position players in MLB history to have aof 100 or more.
Following Robinson’s 1965 season with the Reds — the team that signed him out of Xavier University in Cincinnati — GM William DeWitt traded him to the Orioles for two pitchers and an outfielder and to justify it declared Robinson to be “an old 30.” Robinson responded by winning the Triple Crown and his second MVP award in 1966, his first season in Baltimore.
Robinson would go on to be a productive hitter well into his late thirties.
Toward the end of that playing career, Robinson in 1975 became player-manager of the Indians and in doing so became the first African-American manager in major-league history. That managerial career would extend well beyond his playing days. In all, Robinson managed parts of 16 seasons for the Indians, Giants, Orioles, and Expos/Nationals. Over that span, his teams went 1,065-1,176 (.475). As manager of the Orioles in 1989, Robinson won AL Manager of the Year honors. That bit of hardware, of course, went along with those MVP awards, that triple crown, Rookie of the Year honors in 1956, a Gold Glove, and MVP of the 1966 World Series and the 1971 All-Star Game. If it’s any kind of baseball laurel, Frank Robinson probably won it.
After his career in the dugout, Robinson filled a variety of roles with the league and all the while tirelessly advocated for more opportunities for African-Americans in baseball.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob 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.”