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Frank Robinson - Joining The Big Leagues

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Robinson finally got the call to the majors in 1956, joining the Reds at a annual salary of $6,000. In his first major league at-bat, he drilled a fastball off the outfield wall for a double. By the time that first season had ended, Robinson had turned in one of the most remarkable rookie years in major league history, hitting .290, driving in 83 runs and slugging 38 home runs, a performance that earned him recognition as the National League's Rookie of the Year. Over the next ten years, Robinson crafted the foundation of a Hall of Fame career, hitting consistently for both average and power, topping .300 five times, batting in more than 100 RBIs four times and hitting 25 or more homers eight times. In 1961, when he led the Reds to a National League pennant, Robinson was voted National League Most Valuable Player.

Chronology

1935 Born to Frank Robinson and Ruth Shaw in Beaumont, Texas
1953 Signed by Cincinnati Reds, plays with Ogden team in Pioneer League
1954 Plays AA ball in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and A ball in Columbia, South Carolina
1956 Called up to majors by Cincinnati Reds, wins Rookie of the Year Award
1961 Marries Barbara Ann Cole in Los Angeles
1961 Cincinnati wins National League pennant, named National League's Most Valuable Player
1965 Traded to Baltimore Orioles
1966 Baltimore wins World Series, named American League's Most Valuable Player
1968-75 Manages winter ball in Puerto Rico
1971 Traded to Los Angeles Dodgers
1972 Traded to California Angels
1974 Traded to Cleveland Indians
1975-77 Player-manager of Indians
1978 Manages minor league Rochester Red Wings
1981-84 Manages San Francisco Giants
1985-87 Coach for Baltimore Orioles
1988-91 Manages Baltimore Orioles
1991-97 Assistant general manager for Baltimore Orioles
1997 Appointed director of baseball operations of Arizona Fall League
2000-02 Named vice president for on-field operations for Major League Baseball
2002- Manages Montreal Expos

Awards and Accomplishments

1956 National League Rookie of the Year
1957, 1959, 1961-62, 1965 National League All-Star
1961 Named National League's Most Valuable Player
1966 Named American League's Most Valuable Player
1966 Named World Series' Most Valuable Player
1966 Babe Ruth Award
1966 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
1966 Hickock Professional Athlete of the Year
1966 Sid Mercer Award
1966 Clark Griffith Award
1966 Rogers Hornsby Award
1966-71, 1974 American League All-Star
1968 Named Puerto Rico Winter League Manager of the Year
1971 Most Valuable Player, All-Star Game
1982 Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame
1982 Named National League's Manager of the Year
1989 Named American League's Manager of the Year

Early in his career, Frank Robinson got a reputation as a problem player who was prey to sudden, inexplicable mood swings. His fierce playing style, particularly on the base paths, got him labeled a dirty player who would go out of his way to spike opposing infielders. Robinson defended himself in Extra Innings: "I never relaxed on a ball field. I have always believed in going all out all the time. The baseline belongs to the runner, and whenever I was running the bases, I always slid hard. If the second baseman or shortstop was in the way, coming across the base trying to turn a double play, I hit him hard."

He was just as often on the receiving end of the spikes. In one incident Robinson got slashed on the leg and required 30 stitches. In 1967, playing with Baltimore, he was hit so hard in the head by an infielder's knee, that he was knocked unconscious for five minutes. As a result, he missed a month of the season and suffered from impaired vision of varying degrees for much of the rest of his career. His equally aggressive batting stance—he leaned his head out over the plate to get a good look at pitches as they came in and to protect the outside corner—made him the regular league leader in being hit by pitches.

At the end of the 1965 season, assuming that at 30 years of age Robinson was well past his prime, Cincinnati traded him to the Baltimore Orioles. The season that followed was one of the greatest of Robinson's career. He won the Triple Crown—the batting, home run and RBI titles—led the Orioles to a triumph in the World Series, and was named the American League's Most Valuable Player, becoming the first and only player to be voted MVP in both major leagues. Robinson batted .316 in 1965, hit 49 home runs, and drove in 122.

With Robinson in the line-up, the Orioles would win three more pennants and another World Series. In 1966 Robinson was named World Series MVP after he led Baltimore to a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. During the Series he batted .286, hit two home runs, and drove in three runs.

Robinson stayed with the Orioles through the 1971 season, then was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 1972 season. This began an odyssey that saw him play for the Dodgers, Angels, and the Cleveland Indians over the next five seasons. Robinson retired as a player in 1976.

Frank Robinson - Chronology [next] [back] Frank Robinson - Early Life

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