Frank Robinson

From New World Encyclopedia

Frank Robinson
Born: August 31 1935 (1935-08-31) (age 88)
Beaumont, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 1956
for the Cincinnati Reds
Final game
September 18, 1976
for the Cleveland Indians
Career statistics
AVG     .294
HR     586
RBI     1812
  • Cincinnati Reds (1956-1965)
  • Baltimore Orioles (1966-1971)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (1972)
  • California Angels (1973-1974)
  • Cleveland Indians (1974-1976)

As Manager

  • Cleveland Indians (1975-1977)
  • San Francisco Giants (1981-1984)
  • Baltimore Orioles (1988-1991)
  • Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals (2002-2006)
Career highlights and awards

As Player

  • All Star Games: 12
  • National League Rookie of the Year: 1956
  • MVP: 1961 (NL), 1966 (AL)
  • American League Triple Crown: 1966
  • National League pennant: 1961
  • American League pennants: 1969, 1971
  • World Series titles: 1966, 1970
  • World Series MVP: 1966
  • Babe Ruth Award: 1966
  • Cincinnati Reds #20 retired
  • Baltimore Orioles #20 retired

As Manager

  • AL Manager of the Year Award: 1989
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg
Elected    1982
Vote    89.16 percent

Frank Robinson (born August 31, 1935), is a Hall of Fame former Major League Baseball player. He was an outfielder, most notably with the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles.

During a 21-season career, he was the only player to win League MVP honors in both the National League and American League, won the Triple crown, was a member of two teams that won the World Series (1966 and 1970), and amassed the fourth-most career home runs at the time of his retirement (he is currently seventh).

During the last two years of his playing career, he served as the first permanent African-American manager in Major League history, managing the Cleveland Indians to a 186-189 record from 1975-1977. He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles, the Montreal Expos and the Washington Nationals. He was Manager of the Year in the American League in 1989 with the Orioles.

Robinson being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

In March 2008 Robinson received the Major league Baseball Beacon of Life Award that is given to an individual whose life embodies the spirit of the civil rights movement.[1]

Early life

Frank Robinson, Jr., was born on August 31, 1935, at Silsbee, Texas, the son of Ruth (Shaw) Robinson and her third husband, railroad worker Frank Robinson. Robinson was the last child born to his mother, whose previous two marriages had produced nine children. When separated from the senior Robinson, the mother moved to California with four-year-old Frank and his two half brothers, eventually settling in the Oakland area.

Frank Robinson grew up in a poor, ethnically diverse neighborhood where he starred as an athlete. Excelling in baseball, the 15-year-old Robinson was a right-handed hitting and throwing outfielder on Coach George Powley's 1950 American Legion team that won a second consecutive national title.[2] Before attending Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio Robinson attended McClymonds High School in Oakland where he was a basketball teammate of NBA legend Bill Russell.

Playing career

Robinson had a long and successful playing career. Unusual for a star in the era before free agency, he split his best years between two teams: the Cincinnati Reds (1956-1965) and the Baltimore Orioles (1966-1971). The later years of his career were spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1972), California Angels (1973-1974) and Cleveland Indians (1974-1976). He is the only player to be named Most Valuable Player in both leagues, in 1961 with the Reds and again in 1966 with the Orioles.

In his rookie year, in 1956, he tied the record of 38 home runs by a rookie as a member of the Cincinnati Reds and was named Rookie of the Year. His most productive season with the Reds was in 1961, when the Reds won the National League pennant and Robinson won his first MVP award; however, the Reds would go on to lose in the World Series to the New York Yankees dynasty.

Robinson was known for crowding the plate more than any other batter of his time. For this reason, Robinson had high (HBP) totals, and was knocked off his feet numerous times. When asked by an announcer what his solution to the problem was, he answered simply, "Just stand up and lambast the next pitch."

Prior to the 1966 season, Reds owner Bill DeWitt made the controversial decision of sending Robinson to Baltimore in exchange for ace pitcher Milt Pappas, pitcher Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson. The trade tarnished Dewitt's legacy, and outrage over the deal made it difficult for Pappas to adjust to pitching in Cincinnati. DeWitt famously defended the deal to skeptical Reds fans by claiming that Robinson was "an old 30." Meanwhile, Robinson's first year in Baltimore was a historic one. He accomplished the rare feat of winning the Triple Crown, leading the American League with a .316 batting average, 49 home runs and 122 runs batted in. The Orioles won the 1966 World Series, something Robinson's Reds had never accomplished, and Robinson was named the Series MVP.

Civil Rights Movement

In Baltimore he became active in the civil rights movement. He originally declined membership in the NAACP unless the organization promised not to make him do public appearances. However, after witnessing Baltimore's segregated housing and discriminatory real estate practices, he changed his mind.[3] Robinson became an enthusiastic speaker on racial issues.

The Improbable

On June 26, 1970, Robinson hit back-to-back grand slams in the fifth and sixth innings in the Orioles' 12-2 victory over the Washington Senators at RFK Stadium. The same runners were on base on both home runs—Dave McNally on third, Don Buford on second and Paul Blair on first.

Robinson's Orioles won three consecutive pennants between 1969 and 1971, and won the 1970 World Series over his old Reds.

His career totals include a .294 batting average, 586 home runs, 1812 runs batted in, and 2,943 hits in 2808 games played. At his retirement, his 586 career home runs were the fourth-best in history (behind only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays), though he has since been passed by Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey, Jr. He is second on Cincinnati's all-time home run leaders list (324) behind Johnny Bench and is the Red's all-time leader in slugging percentage (.554).[4]

Managing career

Robinson managed in the winter leagues late in his playing career and sought to become the first African-American manager of a Major League Baseball team. In fact, the Angels traded him to the Indians midway through the 1974 season due to his openly campaigning for the manager's job.

Frank Robinson's number 20 was retired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1972

In 1975, the Cleveland Indians named him player-manager, giving him the distinction of being the first black manager in the Majors.[3]

His managing career included Cleveland (1975-1977), the San Francisco Giants (1981-1984), the Baltimore Orioles (1988-1991) and the Montreal Expos (2002-2006).

He was awarded the American League Manager of the Year Award in 1989 for leading the Baltimore Orioles to an 87-75 record, a major turnaround from their previous season in which they went 54-107.

In 2000 Robinson was hired as baseball's vice president of on-field operations after the abolition of the American and National league offices and the league presidents, who had handled discipline for more than a century.

After a couple of years as the Director of Discipline, Major League Baseball offered the former manager the chance to manage the Expos.

Robinson finished his managerial career with a record of 1,065-1,176, a .475 winning percentage. In 2008 he stood at 48th on the all-time win list for managers.[5]

Final years as manager

In a June 2005 Sports Illustrated poll of 450 MLB players, Robinson was selected the worst manager in baseball, along with Buck Showalter, then manager of the Texas Rangers. In the August 2006 poll, he again was voted worst manager with 17 percent of the vote and 37.7 percent of the NL East vote.[6]

In 2005, one of Robinson's Nationals players asked him, in all seriousness, if he had ever played in the majors. This was reported on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel as an illustration of how little some current players are aware of the history of the game.

During a game against the Houston Astros on May 25, 2006, Frank Robinson pulled the Nationals catcher, Matt LeCroy, during the middle of the 7th inning, violating an unwritten rule that managers do not remove position players in the middle of an inning. Instead, managers are supposed to discreetly switch position players between innings. However, LeCroy, the third-string catcher, let Houston Astros baserunners steal seven bases over seven innings with two throwing errors. Although the Nationals won the game 8-5, Frank Robinson found the decision so difficult to make on a player he respected so much, he broke down crying during the post-game interview.[7]

On September 30, 2006, the Nationals' management declined to renew Robinson's contract for the 2007 season, though they stated he was welcome to come to spring training in an unspecified role. Robinson, who wanted either a front office job or a consultancy, declined.[8] On October 1, 2006, at the age of 71, he managed his final game, a 6-2 loss to the Mets, and prior to the game addressed the fans at RFK Stadium.[9]

Post Managerial Retirement

Robinson served as an analyst for ESPN during 2007 Spring Training.[10] The Nationals offered to honor Robinson during a May 20th game against his former club the Baltimore Orioles but he refused.[11]


In addition to his two Most Valuable Player awards (1961 and 1966) and his World Series Most Valuable Player award (1966), Robinson was honored in 1966 with the Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year in any sport.

In 1982, Frank Robinson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a Baltimore Oriole. Robinson is also a charter member of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame (along with Brooks Robinson), and a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, being inducted into both in 1978. Both the Reds and the Orioles have retired his uniform number 20.

In 1999, he ranked Number 22 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 9, 2005, by President George W. Bush.[12] On April 13, 2007, Robinson was rewarded the first Jackie Robinson Society Community Recognition Award at George Washington University.[13]

In his career, he held several Major League Records. In his rookie season, he tied Wally Berger's record for home runs by a rookie (38).[3] This record was broken by Mark McGwire. He still holds the record for home runs on opening day (eight), which includes a home run in his first at bat as a player-manager.[14]


Frank Robinson was undeniably one of Major League Baseball’s greatest talents. His statistics speak for themselves. He is in the top ten in home runs and most other statistical categories.

As the first African-American to manage a Major League Baseball team he leaves a legacy of opening the door for other African-Americans to manage and long list of players that have benefited from his tutelage.

In 2003, The Cincinnati Reds dedicated a bronze statue of Robinson at Great American Ball Park.

Regular season stats

2,808 10,006 1,829 2,943 528 72 586 1,812 204 77 1,420 1,532 .294 .389 .537 5,373

Managerial Statistics

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CLE 1975 79 80 .497 4th in AL East - - - -
CLE 1976 81 78 .509 4th in AL East - - - -
CLE 1977 26 31 .456 5th in AL East - - - -
SFG 1981 56 55 .505 4th in NL West - - - -
SFG 1982 87 75 .537 3rd in NL West - - - -
SFG 1983 79 83 .488 5th in NL West - - - -
SFG 1984 42 64 .396 6th in NL West - - - -
BAL 1988 54 101 .348 7th in AL East - - - -
BAL 1989 87 75 .537 2nd in AL East - - - -
BAL 1990 76 85 .472 5th in AL East - - - -
BAL 1991 13 24 .351 6th in AL East - - - -
MON 2002 83 79 .512 2nd in NL East - - - -
MON 2003 83 79 .512 4th in NL East - - - -
MON 2004 67 95 .414 5th in NL East - - - -
WSN 2005 81 81 .500 5th in NL East - - - -
WSN 2006 71 91 .438 5th in NL East - - - -
Total 1065 1176 .475 - - - -


  1. Frank Robinson, Ruby Dee and the late John H. Johnson named recipients of the 2008 Major League Baseball Beacon Awards Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  2. Frank Robinson Biography Retrieved August 18, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Nick Acocella, Robinson set records and broke barriers Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  4. Reds All-Time Leaders Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  5. Frank Robinson Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  6. SI Player's Poll Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  7. Mark Zuckerman, Robinson tearful after win The Washington Times May 26, 2006. Retrieved August 18, 2008.
  8. Barry Svrluga, Nats Will Not Offer Robinson a Paid Job 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  9. Dave Sheinin, Nats' Robinson Bids a Fond Farewell Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  10. ESPN Hires Frank Robinson As an Analyst 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  11. Robinson Declines Celebration in His Honor Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  12. 2005 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients Retrieved June 2, 2008.
  13. Frank Robinson in town for honor
  14. Most memorable opening day moments Retrieved August 19, 2008.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Robinson, Frank, and Al Silverman. My Life is Baseball. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975. ISBN 0385057091
  • Robinson, Frank, and Berry Stainback. Extra Innings. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988. ISBN 0070531838
  • Robinson, Frank, and Dave Anderson. Frank: The First Year. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Holt, 1976. ISBN 0030149517
  • Schneider, Russell J. Frank Robinson: The Making of a Manager. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1976. ISBN 0698107314

External links

All links retrieved April 9, 2024.


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