Frank Robinson

Position: Outfielder
Teams: Cincinnati Reds, 1956-1965; Baltimore Orioles,1966-1971; Los Angeles Dodgers, 1972; California Angels,1973-1974; Cleveland Indians,1974-1976

Frank Robinson
Frank Robinson was the first
African American manager
in major-league baseball.

Frank Robinson holds two distinctions: He was the first player to win Most Valuable Player Awards in both leagues, and he was the first African-American manager in major-league baseball.

Born in 1935, Frank Robinson signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1953, after a career as a three-sport star at Oakland’s McClymonds High School, where he played with Curt Flood and Vada Pinson (both of whom were signed by the Reds). With Ogden of the Pioneer League, Frank batted .348 with 17 homers and 83 RBI in 72 games. He led the ’54 Sally League with 112 runs scored while batting .336 with 25 homers and 110 RBI.

By 1956, Robinson was with Cincinnati and won the Rookie of the Year Award by leading the league with 122 runs and hitting .290 with an NL-rookie-record-tying 38 homers. He was a fine defensive outfielder, winning a Gold Glove in 1958, and was very quick on the bases. He produced similar offensive stats from 1957 to 1960, solidifying his position as one of the top outfielders in the National League.

Frank led the Reds to a pennant in 1961, leading the league with a .611 slugging percentage. He also batted .323 with 37 homers, 117 runs scored, 124 RBI, and 22 stolen bases. He was named NL MVP. He led the NL with a .624 slugging percentage in 1962, the third consecutive season he led the circuit in that category. He also led the league with 51 doubles and 134 runs scored. He had his worst season statistically as a Red in 1963, when he hit .259 with 21 homers and 91 RBI in 140 games.

In 1966, when Robinson was 30, the Reds traded him to the Orioles. Reds general manager Bill DeWitt said, “Robinson is not a young 30 years of age.” All he did was win the Triple Crown, become the only man to win MVP Awards in both leagues, and hit .286 with two homers as the O’s beat the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series.

In 1968, Earl Weaver took the helm in Baltimore and they won three straight pennants and another championship in 1970. Robinson displayed outstanding skills as a team leader as well as playing fine baseball. In 1972 he was traded to the Dodgers, and he hit 30 homers and drove in 97 runs for the Angels in 1973.

In 1974, Robinson went to the Cleveland Indians on waivers, and in ’75 he became the first African-American manager in baseball as player-manager of the Indians. He batted over .300 nine times, had over 30 homers 11 times, and had over 100 RBI in six seasons. Only Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron socked more homers. Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.

Here are Frank Robinson's major league totals:


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