Frank Robinson (August 31 1935 – February 7 2019) was an American professional baseball outfielder and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB) who played for five teams, from 1956 to 1976. The only player to be named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of both the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), he was named the NL MVP after leading the Cincinnati Reds to the pennant in 1961 and was named the AL MVP in 1966 with the Baltimore Orioles after winning the Triple Crown; Robinson's 49 home runs (HR) that year tied for the most by any AL player between 1962 and 1989, and stood as a franchise record for 30 years. He helped lead the Orioles to the first two World Series titles in franchise history in 1966 and 1970, and was named the Series MVP in 1966 after leading the Orioles to a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1975, Robinson became the first black manager in big league history, as the Cleveland Indians’ player-manager.
A 14-time All-Star, Robinson batted .300 nine times, hit 30 home runs 11 times, and led his league in slugging four times and in runs scored three times. His 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 extra-base hits (1,186), eighth in games played (2,808), and ninth in runs scored (1,829). His 2,943 career hits are the most since 1934 by any player who fell short of the 3,000-hit mark. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1982.
Robinson went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, and 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 his career as honorary President of the American League.
- It's in the black players and it remains there. The National League was the first to sign black players and remained ahead all these years. And so many outstanding players are black that it's hard to have an outstanding team without your share of black players. It seemed like the National League teams were willing to sign any promising prospect regardless of color, while the American League was only interested in the outstanding, can't-miss black prospect. And if you don't sign the raw talent that needs a few years to develop, you lose out on some outstanding players.
- On integration in baseball, as quoted in "Frank Robinson Sounds Off! Why the National League is Different - Better" by Bill Libby, in Sport (September 1972)
- It worked out just right. I've had to try to catch Aaron virtually all my career. But he's the home run king, so that means he's the cleanup hitter. That means I got into the Hall of Fame before he did.
- On being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Hank Aaron, as quoted in "Aaron, Robinson Enshrined" by Larry Whiteside, in The Boston Globe (August 2, 1982)
Quotes about Robinson
- Sometimes it seems like a bad trade, but bad trades are part of baseball. Now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake! It's a long season, and you gotta trust it.
- It was nothing personal at all. Robinson is not a young 30. If he had been 26, we might not have traded him.