Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson enjoyed a 20-year playing career, winning a number of awards and shattering a major racial barrier in the sport. The MLB’s first African-American manager died Thursday at the age of 83.
Robinson was born August 31, 1935 in Beaumont, Texas but he was raised primarily in Oakland, Calif. His family moved to West Oakland and the young Robinson starred as a baseball and basketball athlete. While attending McClymonds High School, Robinson was a teammate of future NBA legend, Bill Russell.
After graduation, Robinson signed with the National League’s Cincinnati Reds and toiled in the minor leagues but rose quickly into the pro ranks. In 1956, Robinson was named the NL Rookie Of The Year.
In 1961, Robinson was the NL MVP, continuing to dazzle as one of the MLB’s best sluggers and out fielders. After he was sent to the Baltimore Orioles in what was a heavily criticized trade, Robinson won the American League MVP award in 1966 and was the league’s Triple Crown Winner. Baltimore, with Robinson’s efforts, also won the World Series that year and again in 1970. He is the only player to win MLB MVP in both leagues.
After playing for a couple of teams after the 1971 season, Robinson made history as part of the Cleveland Indians squad by becoming a player-manager, the MLB’s first African-American manager. In 1989, he won the AL Manager Of The Year award the following year. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1982 with a staggering list of statistical achievements.
In 2005, Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by then-President George W. Bush. In 2012, Robinson was named the MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Development. He and his wife, Barbara Ann, were married in 1961 and raised two children together.