Frank Robinson was a gift to the game of baseball, fans everywhere

Florence Fletcher
February 9, 2019

Pappas went 30-29 over two-plus seasons with the Reds, Baldschun won one game in 51 appearances over two years with Cincinnati and Simpson hit five home runs as a part-time outfielder for the Reds during two mediocre seasons. When he signed with the Nationals in February 2006, it was Robinson who bluntly told him "You won't play much". He also became manager of the Cleveland Indians in 1975, becoming the first black manager in Major League Baseball history.

Frank Robinson, the feared slugger who became the first black manager in major league baseball, died Thursday at 83, according to Major League Baseball.

Robinson broke in with a bang as a 20-year-old big leaguer.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred released the following statement in the wake of Robinson's passing.

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the most historic professional sports league in the United States and consists of 30 member clubs in the USA and Canada, representing the highest level of professional baseball. A Triple Crown victor, he was a member of two World Series champion Orioles squads.

"Frank Robinson and I were more than baseball buddies", Hank Aaron tweeted. But by 1965, despite hitting 33 home runs and driving in 113 runs, Red's management considered him old and expendable.

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"As the first African-American manager in Major League history, Frank was a proponent of civil rights causes on and off the field, including policies that paved the way for minorities to have increased access to executive and management positions in baseball".

Robinson finished his playing career among all-time leaders in multiple offensive categories including home runs (586), RBIs (1,812), runs scored (1,829) and walks (1,420). Robinson hit a home run that cleared the left-field bleachers, the ball flying high over spectators, and landing in the parking lot beyond.

Robinson later managed San Francisco, Baltimore and Montreal. They would try to mimic his batting stance in their Little League games; they would go to his games as a group; they would watch the Cincinnati Reds on television just for a glimpse of his face.

It was a proclamation from baseball royalty, words backed up by deeds that built statues and brought honors to one of the greatest players the game of baseball has ever seen. And he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

The Orioles confirmed Robinson's passing Thursday afternoon.

Former Nationals catcher Brian Schneider, who played for Robinson in D.C. and Montreal, expressed a similar sentiment. Though he did not have a standout run of success in that job, with a 1065-1176 lifetime record as a skipper, Robinson later went on to take a prominent role in MLB operations and remained a highly respected member of the baseball community throughout.

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