Baseball Great Frank Robinson-77 Today

Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson turns 77 today.

Ten Notes on Frank Robinson

1. Along with Roberto Clemente the most under-appreciated player of the 1950’s-1960’s. When he retired he had 586 career home runs. That put him 4th on the all-time list. He is now 9th.

2. Frank Robinson came up in 1956 with the Cincinnati Reds and played the first ten seasons with them. He hit a then record 38 home runs for a rookie- and won the Rookie of the Year Award. He won the MVP Award in 1961.

3-Frank was one of the hardest nosed players of a hard nosed generation of players. When batting he crowded the plate, as a result he got hit by a lot of pitches and was knocked down a lot. He was one of those runners who would come in hard at second base to break up a double play. He played the game as it was supposed to be played- hard.

4-One of the worst trades in MLB history and one that payed huge dividends for the Baltimore Orioles was prior to the 1966 season- Reds Owner Bill Dewitt traded Robby to the Orioles for pitcher Milt Pappas. DeWitt remarked that Robinson was ‘an old 30″ All he did in his first season with the Orioles in 1966 was win the Triple Crown. He was the AL MVP that year and the MVP in the World Series.

5.Frank Robinson was a 14 time All-Star. He was a major part of two World Series Championships with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970. His number #20 has been retired by both the Orioles and the Reds.

6. Frank Robinson was a career .294 hitter. 586 home runs, 1812 RBI’s. He just came up a little short of 3000 career hits with 2943.

7. Frank Robinson was named the first African-American MLB manager in 1975 with the Cleveland Indians. He was a player-manager. In his first at-bat as player-manager he hit a home run at Cleveland Stadium off of Doc Medich of the Yankees. I remember listening to that game on the radio. The place went crazy! Things in the long run didn’t work out in Cleveland but he was a trailblazer.

8 Frank managed the Indians, Giants, Orioles and Expos-Nationals, his last year of managing was 2006. The general feeling is that he got better as he went on. He was noted early on for a lack of patience with players. He is also one of those guys who seemed to mellow as he grew older. The angry/fiery Frank Robinson of his playing days, early managerial days grew into a calmer man. {In contrast Willie Mays has reportedly been a big grump with a chip on his shoulder in the past 20-30 years}

9. In 1999 The Sporting News listed Robinson as the 22nd greatest player of the 20th century. That seems about right. He never got the recognition of a Mays or a Mantle. I think the most underrated player of all time is Stan “The Man’ Musial but Robinson and Clemente are right behind him.

10. In 2005 Frank Robinson was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.