Frank Robinson dead: Baseball's first black manager in MLB dead at 83

Frank Robinson right with Pete Rose before a spring training game in 1966

"With that 1966 season, Robinson became the first - and remains the only - player to win the MVP in both leagues".

Following Robinson's 1965 season with the Reds - the team that signed him out of Xavier University in Cincinnati - GM William DeWitt traded him to the Orioles for two pitchers and an outfielder and to justify it declared Robinson to be "an old 30". Thanks in part to a fearless stance that placed his head and hands in the way of many a fastball, Robinson was also hit by a pitch on 198 occasions - ninth most in Major League Baseball history. He also became manager of the Cleveland Indians in 1975, becoming the first black manager in Major League Baseball history.

Baseball Hall of Famer and trail blazer Frank Robinson died Thursday in Los Angeles, MLB announced Thursday.

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

"Frank Robinson's resume in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations", MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. He was a once-in-a-lifetime player, then the rare player-manager before finishing out his career in various executive roles for Major League Baseball.

Robinson hit 586 career home runs and won the Triple Crown while leading the Baltimore Orioles to their first World Series championship in 1966. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1982 with just short of 90% of the vote from the Baseball Writer's Association of America.

In his first game in 1975 managing the Cleveland Indians, Robinson batted himself second as the designated hitter and belted a home run in the first inning. He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Orioles, and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. His 1961 Reds team lost the Series to the Yankees in five games while his 1969 Orioles lost that World Series to the Miracle Mets.

Robinson retired from playing after the 1976 season, but his managerial career was just beginning. That bit of hardware, of course, went along with those MVP awards, that triple crown, Rookie of the Year honors in 1956, a Gold Glove, and MVP of the 1966 World Series and the 1971 All-Star Game.

There is a statue of Robinson outside the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

For all he did on and off the field, Robinson was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005.

Robinson had coached for the Orioles and worked in their front office when he became their manager in 1988 after the team opened at 0-6.

The Robinson family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions in Frank's memory can be made to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, or the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. Things didn't get much better right away as Baltimore went on to lose its first 21 games and finished 54-107.

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