Black History Month Spotlight: Baseball Legend Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson was born August 31st, 1935 in Beaumont, Texas. He was the youngest of 10 children born to Frank Robinson and Ruth Shaw.  His parents divorced when he was an infant. Robinson spent his childhood growing up in Alameda, California before moving to Oakland. Frank attended McClymonds High School in Oakland where two of his baseball teammates were Vada Pinson and Curt Flood, two outstanding outfielders in their own right. Frank Robinson was also on the basketball team which featured Bill Russell.

In 1953 Robinson signed with an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds for $3,500. He quickly worked his way through the minors and he debuted in the majors in 1956. That year Frank tied the record of 38 homers hit by a rookie and he won NL Rookie of the Year. Five years later he won his first Most Valuable Player Award while leading the Reds to the NL pennant. They subsequently lost in the World Series to the New York Yankees. Before the 1966 season Robinson was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in a deal that didn’t turn out well for Cincy. But for the Orioles the trade brought them a World Series title. Frank won the Triple Crown, leading the league in batting, runs batted in and homers. Needless to say, he also took home the MVP for his performance in the series. From 1969 to 1971 the Orioles won 3 straight AL pennants. They lost to the NY Mets in 69 before beating his old team, the Cincinnati Reds in 1970. Robinson also played for the LA Dodgers, LA Angels and Cleveland Indians before retiring in 1976.

In 1975 Frank became a player-manager for the Indians making him the first black to manage in the majors. He managed the San Francisco Giants from 1981 thru 1984 before joining the front office of the Orioles. He returned to the field as a manager for Baltimore in 1988 and managed through 1991. From 2002 to 2006 he managed the Montreal Expos.

Frank Robinson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility!

Frank Robinson passed away 02/07/2019.