Frank Robinson, the first African-American manager of a major league baseball team, died Thursday in Los Angeles after a long illness, Major League Baseball announced Thursday. He was 83.
Mr. Robinson walked into MLB’s history books on April 8, 1975, when he gave the lineup card to the home plate umpire as player-manager of the Cleveland Indians in front of 56, 715 fans at the Cleveland Stadium. During his first time at bat as a player/ manager, he hit a homerun off New York Yankees pitcher Doc Medich.
He was 39 at the time and the homerun was 575th of his career. He ended his career with 576 homers.
Robinson made his major league debut in 1956. In his rookie season, Robinson tied the then-record of 38 home runs by a rookie, as a member of the Cincinnati Redlegs, and was named Rookie of the Year.
The Reds won the NL pennant in 1961 and Robinson won his first MVP that year. In July he had batted .409, hit 13 home runs, and drove in 34 RBIs to win NL Player of the Month.
Robinson was a 14-time MLB All-Star who became the first player ever to be named MVP in both the American and National League. He led the Baltimore Orioles to World Series Championships in 1966 and 1970 and won the American League triple crown in 1966.
He also became the National League’s first black manager, managing the San Francisco Giants in 1981. He later managed the Baltimore Orioles from 1988 to 1991. And he was manager of the Montreal Expos when they moved to Washington in 2005 and became the Nationals.
As a player, he played for the Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and the California Angeles.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility .
Mr. Robinson was born August 31, 1935 in Beaumont, Texas, but his family moved to Oakland, California, where he attended McClymonds High School. While a student there, he played on the basketball team with future National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Bill Russell. His high school baseball teammates were Vada Pinson and Curt Flood.