Frank Robinson, Jr., was the only baseball player to win Most Valuable Player awards in each major league, the first African American player to manage a baseball team in each major league, and the first to be named Manager of the Year in the National as well as the American League.
Ruth Robinson’s tenth and last child, Frank Robinson Jr., was born in August 31, 1935 after her marriage to her third husband, Frank Robinson. Unfortunately, her third marriage did not work out either and the mother moved to California from Texas with Robinson Jr. and his two half-brothers.
Growing up in a poor, ethnically diverse neighborhood, Robinson showed athletic capabilities from a young age, excelling in baseball specifically. At only 15 years of age, Robinson was a right-handed hitting and throwing out-fielder on Coach George Powley’s 1950 American Legion team. He later joined the baseball program at McClymonds High School.
Graduating in 1953, Robinson proceeded to sign a contract with the Cincinnati Reds and batted .348 as an outfielder at the Pioneer League in Utah. The following year, after eight games with the Tulsa Team of the Texas League, the player joined the Columbus team of the South Atlantic League, batting .336 with 25 homers and 110 runs batted in. Robinson continued to train with the Cincinnati Reds in 1955 but had to be reassigned to the Columbus team due to an arm injury.
Upon recovery, Frank Robinson rejoined the Cincinnati Reds in the spring of 1956 and made an impactful comeback with a debut of .290, 38 homers and a league-leading 122 runs. This won him the National League Rookie-of-the-Year honors.
Over the next nine seasons, the star topped the .300 mark five times, struck 25 or more homers eight times and scored 100 or more runs four times. Robinson’s determined and aggressive attitude on the field led him to be titled as a ‘vicious’ player and he endured frequent injuries during his career.
In 1961, Robinson joined the Reds once again to lead the team to their first National League pennant since 1940 and won the League’s Most Valuable Player award for batting .323 with 37 homers and 117 runs batted in. following the 1965 season, the team had to bid farewell to Robinson as disputes between the player and the team’s general manager led to the former’s transfer to the American League Baltimore Orioles.
Robinson carried the Orioles to their first World Championship through his Triple Crown batting and won the World Series Most Valuable Player along with American League’s Most Valuable Player, becoming the first player to win both honors in major leagues. Robinson stayed with the team for six years during which the team won four tenants and two world titles in which Robinson contributed .300 plus batting performances and five 25 plus homer seasons.
After being transferred to various teams, the aging player soon realized he wanted to be a manager and used his years of experience to become the National League’s first African American manager in 1981. The following year, the former player received the award for National League’s Manager of the Year. The same year, Robinson was also honored to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But after his team, San Francisco Giants performed poorly in the following two years, Robinson was fired as manager and had to perform as a coach for various teams.
Even in present day, Frank Robinson continues to be involved in the field of baseball and has published three autobiographies as well which highlight an elaborate on his career as a major league baseball player and as the first Black manager in both leagues.
August 31, 1935
February 7, 2019
- Manager of the American League's Cleveland Indians (1975-1976) and Baltimore Orioles (1988-1991); and the National League's San Francisco Giants (1981-1984), and Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals (2002-2004/2005-2006).
- Played for the National League's Cincinnati Reds (1956-1965) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1972); and for the American League's Baltimore Orioles (1966-1971), California Angels (1973-1974), and Cleveland Indians (1974-1976).
- Won the Triple Crown in 1966, leading the American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in, to go along with the MVP award.
- Robinson became the first African-American to manage in the major leagues in 1975.
- Played for 1961 National League Champion Cincinnati Reds team. Played for 1966 and 1970 World Series Champion Baltimore Orioles teams. Played for 1969 and 1971 American League Champion Baltimore Orioles teams.
- Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush on 9 November 2005. Other recipients were Muhammad Ali, Gen. Richard Myers, Paul Rusesabagina, Carol Burnett, Andy Griffith, Aretha Franklin, Vint Cerf and his Internet codeveloper Robert Kahn, Jack Nicklaus, Alan Greenspan, and former Congressman G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery.
BIO: Famousafricanamericans.org + Wikipedia.com
PHOTO: MiamisburgCitySchools + Columbian + WallStreetJournal + SouthPawMusings + RedReporter
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