Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Sports | By Juana Wells

Baseball legend and trailblazer Frank Robinson dead at 83

Baseball legend and trailblazer Frank Robinson dead at 83

What people said about him: "Frank Robinson and I were more than baseball buddies". As a member of the Baltimore Orioles, he became the 11th player in Major League Baseball history to hit 500 home runs. In 1966 he won Major League Player of the Year, the American League Triple Crown and the AL Babe Ruth Award, as well as being named both the AL and World Series MVP. He would again win a World Series title in 1970.

"Frank Robinson's resume in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations", MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "He was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career".

"With the Cleveland Indians in 1975, Frank turned Jackie Robinson's hopes into a reality when he became the first African-American manager in baseball history".

Robinson starred in the major leagues for two decades, and later became the first black manager in the history of the MLB. The fact Frank hit a solo home run in his first at-bat that day as the Indians' player-manager symbolizes his greatness as a Hall of Fame ballplayer. Robinson was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, by President George W. Bush in 2005.

Robinson's family asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions in Frank's memory can be made to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee or the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. He also won Rookie of the Year in 1956, took home the Triple Crown in 1966, and is top-10 on the all-time home run list with 586 bombs. He won the award in 1961 for the Cincinnati Reds in the National League and in 1966 for the Orioles in the American League.

All told, Robinson was an All-Star in five of his six seasons with Baltimore, reaching the World Series four times and batting.300 with 179 home runs. He played for the California Angels in 1973 and was dealt to Cleveland late in the 1974 season. Even while breaking barriers, Robinson's supreme talent and determination showed through.

"I remember the first game I ever managed [for Baltimore] in 1968". At age 20, he was voted NL Rookie of the Year after hitting a then rookie-record 38 home runs.

A no-nonsense guy, Robinson also had a sharp wit.

"I knew there was going to be an terrible lot of pressure, a lot of expectation and a lot of unhappy people because when things went right, fine, but when things went wrong, it was going to be doubly bad because of me being the first black manager", Robinson said. Mazzone capably did his job for years with metal hooks and became good friends with Robinson.

"Frank Robinson broke the ice", Mazzone said. "After that, I was treated just like everybody else".

There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.

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