Frank Robinson More Than a Pioneer

 Frank Robinson (left) shares a moment with Joe Morgan (center) and Don Newcombe (right) at RBI dinner in Los Angeles.(Photo Credit Earl Heath)
Frank Robinson (left) shares a moment with Joe Morgan (center) and Don Newcombe (right) at RBI dinner in Los Angeles.(Photo Credit Earl Heath)

By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

After glancing at headlines in the passing of baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson it appeared many of his accomplishments were not as important.

He was born on in Beaumont, Texas and moved to Oakland, California where he grew up.

He attended McClymons High and was a teammate of Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell.  

 His first major league season he won the Rookie of The Year award in 1956 while playing for the Reds. He set a rookie record with 38 home runs. He won baseballs Triple Crown in 1966 while playing for the Orioles. To this day he is the only player to win the MVP in both leagues. The Reds in 1961 and Orioles in 1966. He led his Orioles team to a World Series wins in 1966 and was named Series MVP and in 1970.

His Career spanned through 21 years and three decades, He batted .300 nine times. He hit 30 homeruns 11 times.

During that time he hit 541 home runs which at the time was fourth on the All-Time list trailing Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

While playing for the Cleveland Indians he was named player/manager- retiring in 1976, becoming the first African American Manager in the Major Leagues.

He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles.

Robinson was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His number 20 was retired by  three teams, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Baltimore. He also has a statue in front of each cities ball park.

He was disappointed at the smaller number or Blacks in Baseball. He was a big supports of MLB’s RBI (Revitalizing Baseball in the Inner City) program. He was good friends with RBI founder, John Young. Robinson attended as many RBI functions as possible including clinics and special dinners.

He attended Xavier University in Cincinnati.

He witnessed discriminatory real estate practices and became a  speaker on racial issues.

He has a beautiful wife in Barbara Ann whom he married in 1961. They had two children and lived in Los Angeles. He was a Laker season seat holder for several years.

President George W. Bush presented him with the Medal of Freedom in 2005 and stated that, “In the game we love few names will ever command the respect and esteem as the name of Frank Robinson. Laura and I are grateful for all that Frank did for our Nation.”