Frank Robinson: Wikis

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Frank Robinson

Outfielder / Manager
Born: August 31, 1935 (1935-08-31) (age 74)
Beaumont, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 17, 1956 for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
September 18, 1976 for the Cleveland Indians
Career statistics
Batting average     .294
Home runs     586
Runs batted in     1,812
Teams

As Manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1982
Vote     89.16%
The statue of Robinson at Great American Ball Park

Frank Robinson (born August 31, 1935 in Beaumont, Texas), is a former Major League Baseball player and manager. He was an outfielder, most notably with the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. During a 21-season career, he is the only player to win League MVP honors in both the National and American Leagues[1] , won the Triple crown, was a member of two teams that won the World Series (the 1966 and 1970 Baltimore Orioles), and amassed the fourth-most career home runs at the time of his retirement (he is currently seventh). Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

During the last two years of his playing career, he served as the first African-American manager in Major League history, managing the Cleveland Indians to a 186–189 record. He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles, the Montreal Expos and the Washington Nationals.

Contents

Early life

Robinson attended McClymonds High School in Oakland where he was a basketball teammate of Bill Russell. During the offseason while playing for the Reds in the late 1950s, he attended Xavier University in Cincinnati.

Playing career

Robinson had a long and successful playing career. Unusual for a star in the era before free agency, he split his best years between two teams: the Cincinnati Reds (19561965) and the Baltimore Orioles (19661971). The later years of his career were spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1972), California Angels (19731974) and Cleveland Indians (1974 - 1976). He is the only player to be named Most Valuable Player in both leagues, in 1961 with the Reds and again in 1966 with the Orioles.

In his rookie year, 1956, he tied the record of 38 home runs by a rookie as a member of the Cincinnati Reds and was named Rookie of the Year. His best of many seasons with the Reds was 1961, when the Reds won the pennant and Robinson won his first MVP award. The Reds lost the 1961 World Series to the Yankees.

Robinson practiced a gutsy style at the plate, crowding the plate perhaps more than any other batter of his time, substantially past the nominal lines. For this reason, Robinson racked up high HBP totals, and experienced many knockdowns. Asked by an announcer what his solution to the problem was, he answered simply, "Just stand up and lambast the next pitch," which he often did.

Prior to the 1966 season, Reds owner Bill DeWitt sent Robinson to Baltimore in exchange for pitcher Milt Pappas, pitcher Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson. The trade is now considered among the most lopsided deals in baseball history. It forever tarnished Dewitt's legacy, and outrage over the deal made it difficult for Pappas to adjust to pitching in Cincinnati (he was traded out of town after only three seasons). DeWitt defended the deal to skeptical Reds fans by claiming that Robinson was "an old 30." Meanwhile, in Robinson's first year in Baltimore, he won the Triple Crown, leading the American League with a .316 batting average, 49 home runs and 122 runs batted in. On May 8, 1966, Robinson became the only player ever to hit a home run completely out of Memorial Stadium. Afterwards, until the Orioles' move to Camden Yards in 1991, a flag labeled "HERE" was flown at the spot where the ball left the stadium.

The Orioles won the World Series, something Robinson's Reds had never accomplished, and Robinson was named the Series MVP. In the Orioles' four-game sweep of the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, Robinson hit two home runs—in Game One, which Baltimore won 5-2, and in Game Four, the only run of the game in a 1-0 Series-clinching victory. Both home runs were hit off Don Drysdale.

It was in Baltimore that he first became active in the civil rights movement. He originally declined membership in the NAACP unless the organization promised not to make him do public appearances. However, after witnessing Baltimore's segregated housing and discriminatory real estate practices, he changed his mind. [1] Robinson became an enthusiastic speaker on racial issues afterward.

On June 26, 1970, Robinson hit back-to-back grand slams (in the fifth and sixth innings) in the Orioles' 12–2 victory over the Washington Senators at RFK Stadium. The same runners were on base on both home runs—Dave McNally on third, Don Buford on second and Paul Blair on first.

The Orioles won three consecutive pennants between 1969 and 1971, and won the 1970 World Series over his old Reds.

His career totals include a .294 batting average, 586 home runs, 1812 runs batted in, and 2,943 hits in 2808 games played. At his retirement, his 586 career home runs were the fourth-best in history (behind only Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays). He is second on Cincinnati's all-time home run leaders list (324) behind Johnny Bench and is the Red's all-time leader in slugging percentage (.554).[2]

Robinson finished his career with brief appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels and Cleveland Indians.

Managing career

Robinson managed in the winter leagues late in his playing career. By the early 1970s, he had his heart set on becoming the first black manager in the majors. In fact, the Angels traded him to the Indians midway through the 1974 season due to his open campaigning for the manager's job.

Orioles20 retired.png
Frank Robinson's number 20 was retired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1972

In 1975, the Cleveland Indians named him player-manager, giving him distinction of being the first black manager in the Majors. [3]

His managing career would go on to include Cleveland (1975–1977), San Francisco Giants (19811984), Baltimore Orioles (19881991) and Montreal Expos / Washington Nationals (20022006).

He was awarded the American League Manager of the Year Award in 1989 for leading the Baltimore Orioles to an 87–75 record, a turnaround from their previous season in which they went 54–107. After spending some years in Major League Baseball as the Director of Discipline, MLB offered Robinson the chance to manage the Expos.

In 2005, the Montreal Gazette's Stephanie Myles reported that he had spent much time playing golf during his years in Montreal. He sometimes spent 16 hour days between the course and the games at night. Some journalists have questioned his lack of use of statistics to determine pitching match-ups with his hitting line-ups. Robinson defended his style of managing by saying that he goes by his "gut feeling."

In a June 2005 Sports Illustrated poll of 450 MLB players, Robinson was selected the worst manager in baseball, along with Buck Showalter, then manager of the Texas Rangers. In the August 2006 poll, he again was voted worst manager with 17% of the vote and 37.7% of the NL East vote [2].

In 2005, one of Robinson's Nationals players asked him if he had ever played in the majors. This was reported on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel as an illustration of how little some current players are aware of the history of the game.

On Thursday, April 20, 2006, with the Nationals winning 10–4 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Robinson got his 1,000th win, becoming the 53rd manager to reach that milestone[3]. He had earned his 1,000th loss two seasons earlier.[4]

During a game against the Houston Astros on May 25, 2006, Robinson pulled the Nationals catcher, Matt LeCroy, during the middle of the 7th inning, violating an unwritten rule that managers do not remove position players in the middle of an inning. Instead, managers are supposed to discreetly switch position players in between innings. However, LeCroy, the third-string catcher, let Houston Astros baserunners steal seven bases over seven innings with two throwing errors. Although the Nationals won the game 8–5, Frank Robinson found the decision so difficult to make on a player he respected so much, he broke down crying during the post-game interviews.[5].

On September 30, 2006, the Nationals' management declined to renew Robinson's contract for the 2007 season, though they stated he was welcome to come to spring training in an unspecified role. Robinson, who wanted either a front office job or a consultancy, declined.[4] On October 1, 2006 he managed his final game, a 6–2 loss to the Mets, and prior to the game addressed the fans at RFK Stadium [5].

Robinson's record as a manager stands as (1065–1176) [6].

Honors

In addition to his two Most Valuable Player awards (1961 and 1966) and his World Series Most Valuable Player award (1966), Robinson was honored in 1966 with the Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year in any sport.

In 1982, Frank Robinson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a Baltimore Oriole. Robinson is also a charter member of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame (along with Brooks Robinson), and a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, being inducted into both in 1978. Both the Reds and the Orioles have retired his uniform number 20.

Robinson being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

In 1999, he ranked Number 22 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

In 2003, The Cincinnati Reds dedicated a bronze statue of Robinson at Great American Ball Park.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 9, 2005, by President George W. Bush. [6] On April 13, 2007 Robinson was rewarded the first Jackie Robinson Society Community Recognition Award at George Washington University[7].

In his career, he held several Major League Records. In his rookie season, he tied Wally Berger's record for home runs by a rookie (38). [7] This record was broken by Mark McGwire. He still holds the record for home runs on opening day (8), which includes a home run in his first at bat as a player-manager. [8] Robinson won the American League Triple Crown (.316 BA, 49 HR, 122 RBI) and the 2 MVP awards, which made him the first player in baseball history to earn the title in both leagues.

Post Managerial Retirement

Robinson served as an analyst for ESPN during 2007 Spring Training [8]. The Nationals offered to honor Robinson during a May 20 game against his former club the Baltimore Orioles but he refused [9].

According to Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga, Robinson is currently working in Bud Selig's office [9].

Regular season stats

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG TB
2,808 10,006 1,829 2,943 528 72 586 1,812 204 77 1,420 1,532 .294 .389 .537 5,373

Managerial Statistics

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CLE 1975 79 80 .497 4th in AL East - - - -
CLE 1976 81 78 .509 4th in AL East - - - -
CLE 1977 26 31 .456 5th in AL East - - - (fired)
SFG 1981 56 55 .505 4th in NL West - - - -
SFG 1982 87 75 .537 3rd in NL West - - - -
SFG 1983 79 83 .488 5th in NL West - - - -
SFG 1984 42 64 .396 6th in NL West - - - (fired)
BAL 1988 54 101 .348 7th in AL East - - - -
BAL 1989 87 75 .537 2nd in AL East - - - -
BAL 1990 76 85 .472 5th in AL East - - - -
BAL 1991 13 24 .351 6th in AL East - - - (fired)
MON 2002 83 79 .512 2nd in NL East - - - -
MON 2003 83 79 .512 4th in NL East - - - -
MON 2004 67 95 .414 5th in NL East - - - -
WSN 2005 81 81 .500 5th in NL East - - - -
WSN 2006 71 91 .438 5th in NL East - - - -
Total 1065 1176 .475 - - - -

See also

Bibliography

  • My Life is Baseball, Doubleday, 1968. (With Al Silverman.)
  • Frank: The First Year, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1976. ISBN 0-03-014951-7. (With Dave Anderson.)
  • Extra Innings, McGraw-Hill, 1988. ISBN 0-07-053183-8. (With Berry Stainback.)

References

External links

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