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Frank Robinson (1935–2019), trailblazing MLB manager and Hall of Fame player

by Linnea Crowther

Frank Robinson was Major League Baseball’s first Black manager. That groundbreaking distinction came after a notable playing career, beginning in 1956 with the Cincinnati Reds. He was Rookie of the Year and went on to play for the Reds until 1965. Traded to the Baltimore Orioles, he excelled for six seasons, including two World Series wins and a World Series MVP Award in 1966. In 1975, Robinson became manager of the Cleveland Indians, breaking the color barrier. He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Orioles, and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.

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Died: February 7, 2019 (Who else died on February 7?)

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Details of death: Died in Los Angeles of bone cancer at the age of 83.


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Honored as a trailblazer: Robinson was widely honored, from the earliest days of his playing career through recent years. He was named MVP twice—once while he was with the Reds and once with the Orioles, making him the first player to earn the title in both leagues. He was a National Baseball Hall of Famer as well as earning spots in the Orioles, Reds, and Indians halls of fame. Statues of Robinson stand outside the Reds’ Great American Ball Park, the Orioles’ Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the Indians’ Progressive Field. In 2005, President George W. Bush honored Robinson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Notable quote: “The only reason I’m the first Black manager is that I was born Black. That’s the color I am. I’m not a superman. I’m not a miracle worker.” —Robinson on his milestone

What people said about him: “Frank Robinson and I were more than baseball buddies. We were friends. Frank was a hard nosed baseball player who did things on the field that people said could never be done. I’m so glad I had the chance to know him all of those years. Baseball will miss a tremendous human being.” —Hank Aaron

“I remember the first game I ever managed [for Baltimore] in 1968. When Frank won it with a headfirst slide into home. I’d have voted for him for the Hall of Fame right there.” —Orioles manager Earl Weaver

Full obituary: The Baltimore Sun

Birthdate: August 31, 1935 (Who else was born on August 31st?)

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