HOFer Frank Robinson dead at 83

Frank Robinson, one of the greatest players in Major League Baseball history, passed away on Thursday at the age of 83. An MVP with Cincinnati and Baltimore, he won the Triple Crown while leading the Orioles to their first World Series championship in 1966.

When Robinson retired, his home run total at the time was fourth on MLB's all-time list, trailing Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.

His legacy, however, was cemented the day he simply stood in the dugout at old Cleveland Stadium as the first black manager in Major League Baseball.

The 14-time All-Star started his career with Cincinnati in 1956, taking home National League rookie of the year honors in his inaugural season when he hit a rookie-record 38 home runs for the Reds.

Robinson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, and his No 20 was retired by the Reds, Orioles, and Indians, with each team also erecting a statue in his honour. Robinson not only added one of the most powerful bats in baseball to the Orioles lineup, as well as a gold glove to the outfield, his aggressive playing style and fierce competitiveness transformed the team's clubhouse.

Six months later, after Robinson won the Triple Crown and led the Orioles to the pennant, the mayor of Baltimore held a ceremony to rename the street "Robinson Road" for the duration of the World Series. And he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

"Pitchers did me a favour when they knocked me down", Robinson said.

Because he helped pave the way for future generations of black players and managers, Robinson will always be among the most important figures in MLB's history.

His career didn't end there, as he would go on to become the first black manager in the National League with the Giants (1981-84).

What people said about him: "Frank Robinson and I were more than baseball buddies". He is one of only three Major League Baseball players ever to have his number retired by three teams, along with Nolan Ryan and Jackie Robinson.

He played for the Dodgers in 1972 and was traded to the California Angels after the season, played with them in 1973 and for most of the 1974 season before he was dealt to Cleveland.

"The kid actually said, 'Holy cow, I knew he was famous, but I didn't know how", Showalter said.

Robinson's career accomplishments are quite impressive.

Frank Robinson has lost his battle with bone cancer and passed away at the age of 83 on Thursday.

A no-nonsense guy, Robinson also had a sharp wit. He's rightly remembered as one of the most feared right-handed batters in baseball history, and he's one of just 21 position players in MLB history to have a WAR of 100 or more. He is survived by his wife Barbara and their two children.

Vanessa Coleman

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