MLB Hall of Famer Frank Robinson passes away at 83

Sherman Parsons
February 10, 2019

His 586 career home runs are 10th on the all-time list. An All-Star outfielder in 12 seasons, his legacy extended far beyond the batter's box.

Robinson fulfilled his quest to become the first African-American manager in the big leagues when the Cleveland Indians hired him in 1975. His impact was immediate and memorable. In the first inning, he homered off Doc Medich and the crowd went insane, cheering the whole April afternoon as Cleveland beat the Yankees. Statues of Robinson stand outside the Reds' Great American Ball Park, the Orioles' Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the Indians' Progressive Field.

Over his career, he coached the Baltimore Orioles, the San Francisco Giants and Montreal.

Since his debut, more than half of all teams have had a black manager.

Horton has only seen one other baseball player with the same on-field intensity and likable personality off it - the Tigers' own Kirk Gibson. Robinson was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, by President George W. Bush in 2005. But it was on the diamond, rather than court, where fame awaited Robinson.

Robinson, who also reached the 1961 World Series with the Reds, was traded by the Orioles to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December 1971. During his career he was hit 198 times.

Robinson retired with the Indians after the 1976 season. Extremely alert on the bases, he had 204 steals. "Played the game tough, hard but fair. And he led his league in runs scored three times, in being hit by pitches seven times and in intentional walks four times". "It made me more determined. I wouldn't let that pitcher get me out".

Robinson would go on to be a productive hitter well into his late thirties.

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"The kid actually said, 'Holy cow, I knew he was famous, but I didn't know how", Showalter said.

Robinson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, with 89.2 percent of the vote. His leadership in the front office and as manager of the Orioles was highlighted by being named the American League Manager of the Year in 1989.

Horton says, if not for injuries that put a bit of a damper on his career, Granderson could have ended up like Robinson. He made 13 All-Star teams.

One Sunday in a long-ago spring, sudden lightning cracked from Frank Robinson's bat, and in a few electric seconds, one of Baltimore's greatest legends was born.

After 10 seasons in Cincinnati, he joined the Baltimore Orioles, and won a World Series in his first season in Baltimore. Robinson not only added one of the most powerful bats in baseball to the Orioles lineup, as well as a gold glove to the outfield, his aggressive playing style and fierce competitiveness transformed the team's clubhouse. The legend managed four seasons with the Giants and 16 seasons overall, winning 1,065 games. He would win two World Series titles in his six years with the Orioles.

Hall of Fame slugger Frank Robinson has passed away at the age of 83. The cap on his Cooperstown plaque carries on O's logo. In 1975, Robinson became manager of the Cleveland Indians, breaking the color barrier. Over that span, his teams went 1,065-1,176 (.475). To help honor Robinson and what he meant to the city, the Ravens lit up M&T Bank Stadium orange that evening.

At the time, the Orioles had a batboy named Jay Mazzone, whose hands were amputated when he was 2 after a burning accident. "You don't find too many people like that", Horton said. "After that, I was treated just like everybody else". He is survived by his wife Barbara and their two children.

There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.

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