Frank Robinson, the first Black manager in Major League Baseball history, has passed away at the age of 83. The Daily News reported that Mr. Robinson died in Los Angeles after a battle with bone cancer. With a historic career that spanned over six decades, Frank Robinson’s impact on the sports world is unparalleled. The National Baseball Hall of Fame recognizes him as one of the most feared baserunners of his era, who showed reckless abandon on the base paths.
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 (@HenryLouisAaron) February 7, 2019
Mr. Robinson was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1935. He began his career in 1956 when he broke into the National League as a 20-year-old Right Fielder for the Cincinnati Reds, where he made his mark immediately. Not only did he lead the team to their first National League pennant in 21 years in 1961, but he also tied a rookie record for the NL Rookie of the Year honors. He also was the first player in major league history to win the MVP Award in both leagues. A 12-time All-Star, he also took home World Series MVP honors the All-Star Game MVP Award.
On October 3, 1974, Robinson made history when he was named by the Cleveland Indians as major league baseball’s first Black manager. He also managed the Giants, Orioles, Expos, and Nationals and was named American League Manager of the Year in 1989 after being Inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1982.
Photo: Chicago Sun-Times
Throughout his career, he became an advocate for diversity, being vocal about the league hiring more Black managers or general managers.
Former Expos and Nationals GM Jim Bowden commented, “I have a lot of respect for Frank Robinson. He has respect for the game of baseball and the way it should be played. I was pleased because he is a man of his word. He said he was going to do something, and he follows up and he does it.”
Photo: Getty Images
At the time of his death, the Daily News also shared that Robinson was still working in baseball as a special advisor to Commissioner Rob Manfred. His story is one that will be felt for years to come, thanks to his relentless spirit, passion, and dedication to the game of baseball, its players, and the league.
“Pitchers did me a favor when they knocked me down,” he once share via the National Baseball Hall Of Fame website. “It made me more determined. I wouldn’t let that pitcher get me out. They say you can’t hit if you’re on your back, but I didn’t hit on my back. I got up.”