Frank Robinson entered
the majors as an outfielder
for the Cincinnati Reds.
Many in the Reds organization doubted that Frank Robinson was ready for the parent club in 1956. The previous year, he had hit just .263 for Columbia in the Class-A Sally League. By mid-season of 1956, however, the question became whether National League pitchers were ready for Robinson. He led the loop with 122 runs scored and tied for second place with 38 home runs.
Whitey Ford Just Can't Lose
Whitey Ford led the American League with his .760 winning percentage and his 2.47 ERA in 1956. In just one of his first 13 seasons with the Yankees did Ford lose as many as ten games. His career record after the 1964 season, his last great year, was 216-84 for a .720 win percentage. Playing for a losing New York team in his final three campaigns, Ford was 20-22.
Willie Mays: Speed with Power
Willie Mays became the only player to hit 50 or more home runs one season and lead his league in steals the next by nailing 51 home runs in 1955 and pilfering 40 bases (in 50 attempts) in 1956. Mays swiped 338 cushions in his career, including 23 in 1971, the year he turned 40 years old.
The 1956 New York Yankees Finally Break the Color Line
The 1956 World Champion New York Yankees included a black player. The Yankees were one of the last teams to continue to field an all-white crew. Pressure on the club to break the color line grew until Elston Howard made the final roster in 1955.
Jackie Robinson Hangs Up His Spikes
Jackie Robinson chose to retire at the finish of the 1956 season rather than report to the hated Giants to whom he was traded. He wrapped up his career with a ten-home run, 43-RBI year. In Robinson's ten seasons with Brooklyn, the Dodgers won six pennants and their first World Championship.
Wrote Roger Kahn: "(Robinson) had intimidating skills, and he burned with a dark fire. He wanted passionately to win . . . He bore the burden of a pioneer and the weight made him more strong. If one can be certain of anything in baseball, it is that we shall not look upon his like again."
The next page highlights key events and details from the 1956 baseball season.
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