All-Time Indians: Frank Robinson

Name: Frank Robinson         Position: Manager/DH      
Tribe Time: 1975-1977/1974-1976       Number: 20        
Accolades: Hall of Fame (1982)       DOB: 08/31/1935      
As Manager W L W%                              
Best Season (1976) 81 78 0.509                              
Career 186 189 0.496                              
As Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG AVG OPS ISOP
Career 100 235 30 53 6 1 14 39 103 50 37 0 1 .358 .438 .226 .796 .213

A member of the 500 home run club (ranked 9th all time), 14 time All-Star, 1956 Rookie of the Year and two time MVP (he won in both thee AL and NL), Frank Robinson both ended (his playing career) and started (his managing career) with the Cleveland Indians. In 1974, Robinson was traded from the Angels to the Indians in exchange for Ken Suarez and Rusty Torres. He never was much of a starter (as shown by his 100 games played in three seasons), but was used as DH and pinch hitter for those late 1970's teams. For the first season he was just used as a player, but prior the 1975 season, Indians GM Phil Seghi (1973-1985) named him the teams manager, taking over for Ken Aspromonte.

This move made him the first black manager in the history of Major League Baseball, probably his most notable achievement even with the two MVPs and Rookie of the Year. It should be considered an even bigger deal than Jackie Robinson's original breaking of the color barrier in 1947. Jackie was obviously a great player, and there was no reason to think that his talent wouldn't translate into an All-Star quality player in the National League. Frank, however, was an unknown quantity as a manager and, despite the fact that it took place in a much friendlier climate. The amount of responsibility handed to Robinson was unprecedented to that point in time in all of professional sports. Not only was he made the manager, but he continued on as a player for two seasons, making him the last player manager for the Cleveland Indians.

The most famous story involving Robinson happened in his first game as a manager. On Opening Day in 1975 Robinson started and batted himself second and hit a solo home run in his first at bat. Gaylord Perry started the game and threw a complete game to ensure that Robinson won his first game as a manager.

While he only managed for three seasons for the Tribe, Frank Robinson remains an important part of team history. His 186 wins rank 19th all time, but his story places him among the greatest ever. After leaving the Indians, Robinson managed in some way or another through 2006, with his most successful seasons coming in 1982 and 1989 when he won 87 games with the Giants and Orioles. While he never made it to the playoffs as a manager (he won his ring in 1966 when he won the World Series MVP with the Orioles), he does hold the distinction of being the first manager of the Washington Nationals in 2005. He managed the Nationals for two seasons before retiring, putting an end to an amazing Hall of Fame career.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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