Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 4/16/12

Yesterday, Major League Baseball held its annual celebration of Jackie Robinson, with every player donning the number 42 in honor of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. While Jackie blazed a new and essential trail for black players in baseball, it was another Robinson who took the next step by becoming the first black manager in baseball history.

Frank Robinson is a legend of baseball, both in and out of the dugout. This post recounts Robinson’s remarkable career and legacy, certainly one the most important in the rich and storied history of America’s Pastime.

Frank Robinson’s Career By The Numbers

Very few baseball players have a résumé as impressive as Frank Robinson’s.

He ranks ninth all-time in home runs (586) and twentieth in RBIs (1,812). When he retired in 1976 he ranked fourth and twelfth, respectively.

Robinson was a fourteen-time All Star and two-time MVP. In fact, he remains the only player ever name the MVP of both leagues—winning the award in 1961 with the Reds and in 1966 with the Orioles.

In 1967 he won the triple crown, leading the American League with 49 homers, 122 RBIs, and a .316 batting average.

Robinson won two World Series rings with the Orioles, in 1966 and 1970.

In 1975, while he was playing with the Cleveland Indians, he became a player-manager and the first African American manager in Major League history.

Seven years later the Baseball Writers Association of America elected Robinson into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Frank Robinson's 1957 Topps card

Robinson’s Hall of Fame Playing Career

Frank Robinson was born in Beaumont, Texas on August 31, 1935. When he was four years old, his family moved from Texas to Oakland, California.

Robinson was part of the first generation of players to come of age during integration. In 1953, only six years after Jackie Robinson (no relation) and Larry Doby had broken Major League Baseball’s color barrier, Robinson signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds shortly after his graduation from McClymonds High School in Oakland. At McClymonds, Robinson played on the basketball team with future University of San Francisco and Celtics legend Bill Russell.

He made his Major League debut in the Reds outfield in 1956. As a rookie he was an All-Star and the National League’s Rookie of the Year. Robinson played ten years in Cincinnati, during which time he thrice led the National League in OPS (not that anyone back then knew what OPS was or why it mattered). Robinson’s Reds won the 1961 National League Pennant, but lost the World Series to the Yankees in five games. While he played for Cincinnati, he took classes at Xavier University.

In 1966 the Reds dealt Robinson to Baltimore in exchange for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson. By 1969, none of the three was still playing in Cincinnati. Robinson, on the other hand, thrived with the Orioles, winning a World Series ring, the American League MVP, and the World Series MVP in his first year in Baltimore.

During Robinson’s six season with the Orioles, the O’s won four pennants (1966, 1969, 1970, 1971) and two World Series titles (1966, 1970).

Robinson led the Orioles to four pennants and two World Series titles.

Robinson Blazes A New Trail

Robinson finished his career with the Dodgers (one season), Angels (not quite two seasons), and Indians (just over two seasons). The Indians named him player-manager in 1975, beginning Robinson’s lengthy coaching career.

Robinson managed the Indians from 1975-1977, the Giants from 1981-1984, the Orioles from 1988-91, and the Montreal Expos-turned-Washington Nationals from 2002-2006. Major League Baseball, which owned the Expos at the time, appointed Robinson manager, and he oversaw the team’s transition from Quebec to the capital of the United States. (He was there when the team was playing home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico.)

Robinson wasn’t nearly as impressive as a manager as he had been as a player. His career managerial record stands at 1065-1176 (.475). But he did win American League Manager of the Year in 1989 when he led the Orioles—a team that had gone 54-107 in the previous season—to an 87-75 record.

Early in his career Robinson shied away from the Civil Rights struggle in the United States. But after coming face to face with segregated housing in Baltimore while playing with the Orioles, and after realizing that the Orioles organization was doing nothing to help overcome the problem, Robinson became an outspoken advocate for the African American community and for African American ball players.

Both the Reds and the Orioles retired Robinson’s number, 20, and the Reds dedicated a statue of Robinson at Great American Ball Park. In 2005 President George W. Bush awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award for civilians who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Frank Robinson receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush on November 9, 2005.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message


Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker