Frank Robinson dies at 83

Frank Robinson right with Pete Rose before a spring training game in 1966

Robinson was the only player to win the MVP award in both leagues.

A paragon of consistency, Robinson's worst seasons were the stuff of dreams for most Major League Baseball players. The only reason that I'm the first black manager is because I was born black.

Fearsome on and off the diamond, Frank Robinson was a pioneering member of Major League Baseball who became the first black manager in league history. He was 83 years old.

Robinson was the NL MVP with Cincinnati in 1961 and Baltimore in 1966.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred released the following statement in the wake of Robinson's passing.

Robinson fulfilled his quest to become the first African-American manager in the big leagues when the Cleveland Indians hired him in 1975. The fact Frank hit a solo home run in his first at-bat that day as the Indians' player-manager symbolizes his greatness as a Hall of Fame ballplayer. He later became baseball's first African-American manager.

Robinson, who led the AL with a.316 average, 47 home runs and 122 runs batted in, was the first Triple Crown victor since 1947. Those attributes allowed him to finish his playing days with 586 home runs - fourth-most ever at the time and now 10th on the all-time list. He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles and the Montreal Expos.

Robinson led the Orioles to AL pennants in 1969, 1970 and 1971, winning the World Series in 1970, beating Cincinnati in five games, but losing to the New York Mets in 1969 and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971. He earned the National League's Rookie of the Year honors in following that season, hitting.290 with 38 homers and 83 RBI in his debut season.

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That December, Robinson was the centerpiece in what would ultimately be one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history, going to Baltimore for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson.

Robinson was the only player to hit a ball completely out of old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and once connected for grand slams in consecutive innings of a game.

The Orioles set a baseball record by losing their first 21 that season and ended up with a then-franchise worst 107 losses.

The Orioles confirmed Robinson's passing Thursday afternoon. In 2005, Frank was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, for 'setting a lasting example of character in athletics'.

Robinson later spent several years working as an executive for Major League Baseball and for a time oversaw the annual Civil Rights Game.

"I don't rank guys, but I'd put him right there with the best ever", Earl Weaver, the former Orioles manager who died in 2013, once said.

Robinson also was outspoken about white pitchers not being openly rebuked for throwing at black batters.

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