Saturday, February 9, 2019

Frank Robinson 2/9/19

Hey baseball fans!

I don't usually do posts to honor a baseball personality after their death, but I'm making an exception here. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Ernie Banks were some of the best sluggers of the 1950s, but there was an unsung hero who was flourishing just as much as them at the time and continued his success up until his final seasons. I am of course talking about the late Frank Robinson.

Robinson played for 21 years from 1956-1976 with the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels, and Indians. During his Hall of Fame career, he made 14 All Star Games and hit 30 or more home runs in eleven seasons. The 1956 NL Rookie of the Year Award recipient started off his career with Cincinnati, where he averaged 101 RBIs a season during his ten years there. His best season with the Reds was in 1961, when he won his first MVP award en route to leading Cinci to the World Series, collecting 37 home runs, 124 RBIs, a .323 batting average, and a league-leading slugging percentage of .611 during the regular season. In fact, 1961 was the second of three consecutive years that Robinson led the NL in slugging.

After the 1965 season, the Reds didn't feel Robinson's services were required anymore, considering he was "an old 30" at the time. So, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in December of 1965. Big mistake. Robinson would go on to win the Triple Crown in 1966, leading the American League in homers (49, a career high), RBIs (122), and batting average (.316). Robinson's heroic efforts landed him his second career MVP award, becoming the first player in MLB history to win the MVP in both leagues. However, unlike his 1961 Reds, who lost the World Series to the Yankees, his 1966 Orioles won the Fall Classic over the Dodgers in a clean sweep. Robinson also won the 1970 World Series, again with the O's.

In 1975, at the age of 39, Robinson became the first African-American manager in baseball history when he became the player-manager of the Indians. In his debut game, he penciled his name into the lineup card as a DH and then hit a home run! In addition to the Indians, he had stints as the manager of the Giants, Orioles, and Nationals.

Robinson retired from playing in 1976 and finished his career with incredible stats. Today, his 586 home runs rank tenth on the all-time list and his 1,812 RBIs rank 21st. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, with 89.2% of the vote. Thank you, Frank, for all you provided for the game. You will be dearly missed.

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