Baseball Trailblazer Frank Robinson Dies At 83

Feb 7, 2019

Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson has died at age 83. A two-time MVP, Robinson was the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball, and he got his start in Cincinnati.

MLB reports Robinson died at his home in California Thursday morning, surrounded by family and friends.

The Texas native made his debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956, hitting 38 home runs and earning National League Rookie of the Year.

Half of his 12 All-Star team appearances came in a Reds uniform and he took home the 1961 National League MVP award.

In a surprising move, the team traded Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles in 1965 because Reds General Manager Bill DeWitt said "Robinson had reached his peak."

He went on to another decade of success, including in 1975 becoming the first African-American to lead an MLB team when he was named player/manager with Ohio's other baseball club, the Cleveland Indians.

In a statement, Reds CEO Bob Castellini calls Robinson one of the greatest players to ever wear the Reds uniform.

"His talent and success brought dynamic change to the Reds and to our City," Castellini writes. "His retired Number 20 and statue gracing the gates of Great American Ball Park stand in tribute and appreciation for the immense contribution Frank made to the Reds. We offer our deepest condolences to Frank’s family, friends, and fans."

Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred, Jr. calls Robinson a "trailblazer in every sense" who was known for his competitive spirit.

"He was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career."

Manfred adds, "Frank turned Jackie Robinson’s hopes into a reality" when he became the Indians manager.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine had this to say about Robinson's passing:

"I am so sorry to hear about the death of Frank Robinson. When I was growing up, Frank Robinson was certainly one of my heroes. I remember his rookie year with the Reds when he won Rookie of the Year. He had so many impressive accomplishments, including winning MVP in both leagues and becoming the majors’ first African-American manager with the Indians. Many years after his playing days, my son Mark and I had the chance to sit behind him at an Indians' World Series game, and he was kind to have a picture taken with Mark that we still have. Fran and I offer our sincerest condolences to Frank's wife, Barbara, his children, and his family."

Per Major League Baseball, the Robinson family is suggesting memorials may be made in Robinson's memory to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, or the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.