Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who grew up in Oakland, the first African American manager in baseball and former manager of the San Francisco Giants, has passed away Thursday at the age of 83, according to the New York Daily News.
Robinson, who had battled bone cancer, died in Los Angeles, the Daily News reported.
During a playing career spanning 20 years for the Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels and Cleveland Indians, Robinson, the 1956 National League Rookie of the Year, hit .294 with 586 home runs (10th all time), 2,943 hits and 1,812 RBIs. He was a 14-time All-Star, a two-time World Series champion, the National League MVP in 1961.
In 1966, Robinson was traded from the Reds to the Orioles for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun and Dickie Simpson, and that year, he won the American League MVP in 1966, the Triple Crown and the World Series MVP, sweeping the Dodgers in the World Series.
After lifting the Orioles to four pennants in six years, Robinson played a year for the Dodgers, then nearly two for the Angels before he was claimed by the Indians for the final weeks of the 1974 season.
The final years of Robinson’s playing career were spent in Cleveland, where, after gaining experience over several winters managing in Puerto Rico, he became a player-manager in 1975, the first African American to manage a big league team.
He served the same post in 1976 before retiring from playing. After managing the Indians in 1977, he served as a coach for the Angels, before coaching for the Orioles from 1978 to 1980.
When Robinson was first named Indians manager, it was just three years after pioneer Jackie Robinson — who had long expressed his desire to see an African American take the helm of a Major League team — had passed away.
In 1981, Robinson, a McClymonds graduate, returned home to the Bay Area, managing the Giants from 1981-1984, going 264-277. He then returned to Baltimore, where he starred as a player from 1966-71, and managed from 1988 to 1991, earning AL Manager of the Year in 1989.
Robinson managed four seasons in San Francisco, and 16 total, with a record of 1,065 wins and 1,176 losses.
Born in Beaumont, Texas, on Aug. 31, 1935, Robinson was the youngest of Ruth Shaw’s 10 children. Shaw, along with her youngest children, moved to the East Bay soon after. At 14, Robinson began playing for local coaching legend George Powles, and won an American Legion national championship team. In the days before the Major League Draft, Robinson was signed by the Reds out of McClymonds in 1953 for a $3,500 bonus.
In his career, he held several major league records. As a rookie, he tied Wally Berger’s rookie home run record (38), a record since broken twice, first by Mark McGwire, then by Aaron Judge in 2017. Robinson still holds the record for home runs on opening day (8), which includes a home run in his first at bat as a player-manager.
His No. 20 retired by three franchises — the Indians, Orioles and Reds — Robinson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a Baltimore Oriole in 1982. He has statues outside of Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, Orioles Park at Camden Yards and Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Robinson, the first player to ever win the MVP in both leagues, served as the first manager of the Washington Nationals, serving as the skipper in Montreal before the franchise moved, and ushering in a new era of baseball in the nation’s capital.
In 2012, Robinson, who at the time worked for MLB commissioner Bud Selig as executive vice president of baseball development for MLB and was also in charge of the MLB’s Urban Youth Academies, helped arrange a $4,000 donation to Los Amigos High School in Orange County, after the school had its baseball equipment stolen from an on-campus storage locker.
In 2005, Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.