The Cincinnati Reds, and Major League Baseball community have lost an all-time great today as Frank Robinson passed away at age 83.
Frank Robinson originally signed with the Cincinnati Reds for $3500 in 1953 after high school. He spent a few years in the minor leagues before making his Major League debut in 1956. That season he won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, tying a record at the time for home runs by a rookie with 38. He led the league in runs scored with 122, playing in 152 games for the Reds that season while also making his first All-Star team. That was just the start of what would become a Hall of Fame career.
From 1956-1965 Frank Robinson played in 1502 games for the Reds. He hit .303/.389/.554 with 318 doubles, 50 triples, 324 home runs, 161 steals, and a 150 OPS+. He made six All-Star teams, won the Most Valuable Player Awards in 1961, led the league in OPS three times, slugging three times, and on-base percentage once. His 51 doubles in 1962 also led the league. He is one of the best players to ever put on a Reds jersey.
The Reds traded Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles before the 1965 season. As every single one of you knows, it was one of the trades that haunts the franchise. Robinson would win the American League Triple Crown that season, hitting .316/.410/.637 with 49 home runs and 122 runs batted in. While he topped out there in 1966, he was still outstanding moving forward in his career, racking up another five All-Star selections before retiring from the game in 1976. His career came to an end in Cleveland, but not before he became player/manager in the 1975 season. He became Major League Baseball’s first African American manager when this happened.
In 1982 he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a player. He had remained on as manager of the Indians for a season beyond his retirement as a player. But he didn’t manage from 1978-1980 before catching on as a manager of the San Francisco Giants. He would go on to manager the Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Montreal Expos, and Washington Nationals in his 17-year managerial career that ended in 2006 with the Nationals.
The Cincinnati Reds, as a part of their tribute to past greats outside of Great American Ballpark, have a statue of Frank Robinson that has stood since 2003. Robinson also has statues in Baltimore outside of their stadium, as well as in Cleveland outside of their stadium.