Hall of Famer Frank Robinson dies at 83

Robinson was the first black manager in Major League Baseball

James Rapien
February 07, 2019 - 6:08 pm
Frank Robinson in a file photo from April 10, 1966. (Photo by Richard Stacks/Baltimore Sun/TNS/Sipa USA)

© TNS

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who was the first black manager in Major League Baseball has died. He was 83 years old. The baseball community is morning the passing of Robinson, who was a trailblazer in every way.

He hit 586 career home runs, is the only player ever to be named MVP of both leagues and won the World Series with Baltimore in 1966 and 1970. The 12-time All-Star won the National League MVP in 1961 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds and the 1966 American League MVP as a member of the Orioles. 

Robinson became the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball history when the Indians hired him in 1975. He was in Cleveland for three seasons, before moving on to manage in Baltimore and Milwaukee. His No. 20 is retired in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore, he's a member of each organzations' Hall of Fame and has a statue outside of each of their ballparks. 

Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. 

Some of our personalities remember when he was hired by the Indians and what it meant for the game. Here are a few accounts of what Robinson meant to Cleveland and the game of baseball:

“For me, Frank Robinson is the introduction to baseball. I was in elementary school when he hit his famous opening day home run. It was what gave me the opportunity to start liking the Indians as a young boy growing up in Cleveland. The teams that he was managing were the guys that we all started to like – especially when I was a kid. I guess it took me a little while longer to realize what it meant to be the first African-American manager. In our generations now, you don’t even think twice about a minority being a manager in Major League Baseball. I don’t know what the full impact of it felt like it for those fans that never could experience an African-American manager. For me, I just assumed that anyone could be a manager after that and there really weren’t any walls for me as a young boy to think who could be or who couldn’t be a manager.” – Andy Baskin

"I was 14-years-old and a huge baseball nut when Frank Robinson was named manager of the Cleveland Indians.  My reaction to Robinson’s hiring was strictly baseball — the guy who won the Triple Crown in Baltimore and the first player to be named the Most Valuable Player in both the American and National Leagues was the manager of my team.  And he was going to be a player-manager. Cool. Very cool. I knew that Robinson was also the first African-American to be hired to manage a major league team, but that didn’t mean much to me at the time.  I just cared that he has a legendary player, and I hoped that he would do great things in Cleveland as a manager.  As time went on, of course, the significance of Robinson’s hiring came to mean much more to me. Coupled with Larry Doby breaking the color barrier in the American League as a Cleveland Indian, it made me quite proud of our franchise, and our city." – Jeff Phelps

“In Cleveland, it was huge that he became the first African-American manager.  It took nearly 30 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier for Major League Baseball to smart up and put someone like Robinson in charge on the bench.  The Tribe teams at the time were average, but the greatest memory of Robinson in Cleveland was the homer on opening day in his first game as player/manager – and doing it in those god-awful all red uniforms.  It was the 70's. He doesn't get the hype that Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby did as they played, but Robinson was still a trailblazer, and he did it in Cleveland." – Jeff Thomas

Jim Donovan narrated a great tribute video honoring Robinson. Watch the video and read more about Robinson below: