Iconic MLB Black Knight Frank Robinson Turns 83 Today

When discussing MLBs greatest Black Knights of All-Time, Frank Robinson is up on Baseballs Black Mount Rushmore along with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Rickey Henderson and pitcher Bullet Bob Gibson. 

Robinson turns 83 years old today and is considered one of baseballs living legends and ultimate treasures. He won the Triple Crown, won two World Series with B-More Orioles  in 1966 and 1970 Baltimore Orioles and sits 10th on the all-time homer list with 584 homers. At the time of his retirement, Robinson was fourth all-time, only to be surpassed by a crop of Steroid Era players. 

1970 WS Gm5: Frank Robinson clubs two-run home run

10/15/70: Frank Robinson gets the Orioles on the board with his two-run home run in the bottom of the first Check out http://MLB.com/video for more! About MLB.com: About MLB.com: Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced on January 19, 2000, that the 30 Major League Club owners voted unanimously to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations into an independent technology company.

The 1982 Hall of Fame inductee took a baseball journey as accomplished and illustrious as any player to ever lace up the cleats. His impressive stats only tell half the story. Robinson is a pioneer and transcending player who helped open the MLB floodgates for players of color to excel in what was egregiously and biasedly considered a white mans game,” which is totally laughable considering the success of the Negro Leagues.  

43 years ago Robinson put an end to unfounded stereotypes by becoming the first African-American manager in MLBs storied history. The Cleveland Indians appointed the Hall of Famer as player-manager. The only player to ever win MVP Awards in both leagues, Robinson could still swing it.

Baseball Hall on Twitter

OTD in 1975, Frank Robinson breaks new ground by taking the field for the @Indians as the first African-American manager in baseball history. https://t.co/1Obzh2BcXS

That spring day in 1975 Robinson hit second for Cleveland and smashed a first-inning pitch from Doc Medich for a home run to power the Tribe past the New York Yankees, 5-3, on Opening Day. It was the 575th home run in Robinsons mythical career, but his presence in the dugout as a Black man making decisions is most memorable and more impactful than any of his 586 career jacks. It was the evolution of baseball as it led to great societal strides in the 20th century. 

“It was a great moment, but you had to wait ’till the end, ’til the game was over (to celebrate),” Robinson told The New York Times about the home run, which brought a thunderous ovation from the 56,204 fans at Cleveland Stadium. “Now, it’s even more gratifying.”

Robinson was a 20-year-old phenom who broke in with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956, banged 38 homers and won Rookie of the Year honors. 

At the age of 39, he embarked on a managerial journey and when his career as a skipper was over in 2006 at the age of 70, it was safe to say that Robinson probably had a more all-around successful baseball career than anyone who’s ever played MLB.  

Baseball Hall on Twitter

Two MVPs, 586 home runs, two World Series rings… and more than 1,000 wins as a manager. Happy birthday to the man who did it all, Frank Robinson! Doug McWilliams https://t.co/Zby5ZKoTdr

In 1989, his second of four seasons as skipper of the B-More Orioles, Robinson won the AL Manager of the Year Award and convincingly and officially shattered the outdated and bigoted stereotypes about black men in baseball positions that require leadership, communication, intelligence and strategy. 

Robinsons capable execution opened the doors for other African-American coaches such as Dusty Baker, Lloyd McClendon, Bo Porter, Ron Washington, Cito Gaston and Jerry Manuel and Willie Randolph and MLB’s only current African-American manager Dave Roberts with the Dodgers

Only 29 Black managers have been hired since Robinson in 1975, at the same time, that’s 29 more than existed before he paved the way. 

Only one has ever won a World Series. Gaston won back-to-back chips with Toronto in 1992-93. Others like Ron Washington and Dusty Baker and Roberts have come close. So close. 

WS2017 Gm7: Roberts on disappointing end to series

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts discusses how it feels to fall just short following the team’s Game 7 loss to the Astros Check out http://MLB.com/video for more! About MLB.com: Former Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced on January 19, 2000, that the 30 Major League Club owners voted unanimously to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations into an independent technology company.

Some were even miserable failures and those cases are the ones which magnify how important Robinsons breaking of baseball’s managerial color barrier was. It gave people of color an equal opportunity to succeed and fail just like anybody else and the opportunity is often more valuable than the result. 

Happy Birthday to a baseball icon who spent a half century shaping culture, setting standards and reinforcing the historical significance of baseballs Black Knights. There are few, if any, better baseball players to have ever walked the planet earth. 

Back to top