These ©Loveland Magazine photos of Frank Robinson were taken at the 2009 Civil Rights game played at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
The Reds, Orioles, and Indians have retired his uniform number 20
Frank Robinson (August 31, 1935 – February 7, 2019) was an American outfielder and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB) who played for five teams from 1956 to 1976, and became the only player to be named the Most Valuable Player of both the National League and American League.
Frank Robinson made his major league debut in 1956. In his rookie year with the Cincinnati Reds. He tied the then-record of 38 home runs by a rookie and was named Rookie of the Year. The Reds won the NL pennant in 1961 and Robinson won his first MVP that year (in July he batted .409, hit 13 home runs, and drove in 34 RBIs to win NL Player of the Month), the last time the NL played a 154-game schedule. In 1962, Robinson hit a career-high .342 with 39 home runs, 51 doubles, and 136 RBIs.
Robinson was noted as a fierce player. He spiked Johnny Logan in 1957, causing Logan to miss six weeks. He also got into a fistfight with Eddie Mathews in 1960.
While playing for the Reds in the late 1950s, Robinson attended Xavier University in Cincinnati during the off-seasons. While in Baltimore, he 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 reconsidered and became an enthusiastic speaker on racial issues.
Robinson met his wife, Barbara Ann Cole, in 1961. They married that year, and lived in Los Angeles, where Barbara sold real estate. They had two children.
On February 7, 2019, Robinson died of bone cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 83.
He was named the NL MVP with the Cincinnati Reds in 1961 after leading the team to the pennant with a .323 batting average, and won the AL MVP in 1966 in his first season with the Baltimore Orioles after winning the Triple Crown. Robinson helped lead the Orioles to World Series titles in 1966 and 1970. A 14-time All-Star, Robinson’s 586 career home runs ranked fourth in major league history at the time of his retirement, and he ranked sixth in total bases (5,373) and tenth in runs scored (1,829). Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1982.
In 1975, Robinson became the first black manager in major league history. He managed the Cleveland Indians during the last two years of his playing career, compiling a 186–189 record. He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. For most of the last two decades of his life, Robinson served in various executive positions for Major League Baseball, concluding as honorary President of the American League.
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, 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. He was named to the Washington Nationals Ring of Honor for his “significant contribution to the game of baseball in Washington, D.C” on May 9, 2015. He was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame in 2016. The Reds, Orioles, and Indians have retired his uniform number 20. He is one of only two major league players, the other being Nolan Ryan, to have his number retired by three different organizations.
In 1999, Robinson ranked 22nd on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. He was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Three teams have honored Robinson with statues
- In 2003, the Reds dedicated a bronze statue of Robinson at Great American Ball Park.
- In 2012, the Orioles unveiled a bronze statue of Robinson at Oriole Park at Camden Yards as part of the Orioles Legends Celebration Series.
- In 2017, the Indians unveiled a bronze statue of Robinson in front of Progressive Field.
President George W. Bush awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 9, 2005. On April 13, 2007, Robinson was awarded the first Jackie Robinson Society Community Recognition Award at George Washington University.*
Bio of Frank Robinson from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Statement from Cincinnati Reds CEO Bob Castellini
“Frank Robinson is considered one of the greatest players to ever wear a Cincinnati Reds uniform. His talent and success brought dynamic change to the Reds and to our City. 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.”
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