ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
Baseball legend Frank Robinson passed away at the age of 83 on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Robinson passed away in Los Angeles after a long battle with bone cancer. Robinson was one of the game’s most prolific hitters, he racked up 586 home runs, landing him in the top ten of most home runs in Major League Baseball (MLB) history.
Robinson had a career .294 batting average, which may not sound all that impressive; however, Robinson played for a total of 21 years in the majors, and the average does not reflect the 2,943 career hits he was able to put out.
Robinson’s career was a great one, as he was named Rookie of the Year for the MLB while at Cincinnati Reds in 1956, as well as winning Most Valuable Player (MVP) in his sixth year at the club in 1961. In 1966, Robinson moved clubs and joined the Baltimore Orioles, where he won his second MVP award, making him the first and only player to this date to win the MVP in the National League and American League. In the same year, Robinson won the Triple Crown of Baseball when he hit 49 home runs, drove in 122 runs, had a batting average of .316 on his way to win the MVP, and lead the Orioles to their first ever World Series win, where he was named World Series MVP as well.
Robinson’s career didn’t end as a player; in 1975, he was named player-manager for The Cleveland Indians making him the first African American manager, 28 years after Jackie Robinson took to the field as a Dodger and broke the color barriers of baseball. Though he never managed a pennant-winning team, Frank Robinson was still able to win the American League Manager of the Year Award in 1989 while managing the Baltimore Orioles. They ended up being two games back of the Toronto Blue Jays, who won the pennant at the end of the 89 season. What might impress many was the turn around of the Orioles, as the previous year they went from 54 – 107 to a respectable 81-75 record.
Robinson’s career never really went down as a great one as a manager, but as a player, he was incredible. In his first year of eligibility, he was entered into the Hall of Fame in 1982 with an outstanding 89.2 percent of votes. People knew him for his leadership, toughness, and competitive fire that he carried as a player and a manager. What might have been his trademark during his years in the majors would have been his sheer courage to crowd up on the plate and dare pitchers to throw anywhere close to him on the inside, as he was hit with the ball 198 times in his career.
Robinson will probably never get the same recognition as Jackie Robinson, who changed the game as we know it, but he paved the way for many minority managers after him, who in turn changed the game for many, like Los Angeles Dodgers’ own manager, Dave Roberts. The commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, had this to say about Robinson: “Frank Robinson’s resume in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations, he was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career.”
Overall, Robinson will forever go down in MLB history, regardless if another player wins MVP in both the American League and National League. He will forever be known for being a pioneer for African Americans and other minorities because of his managing and coaching abilities for Major League teams.