Frank Robinson, a Hall of Fame outfielder who was the first player to win an MVP in both the American League and National League and later became the first African American manager in Major League Baseball, died Thursday, according to MLB.com. He was 83.
Robinson passed away “after a prolonged illness,” the league said.
Robinson batted .294 with 586 home runs in 21 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels and Cleveland Indians. He won the World Series with the Orioles in 1966 — earning series MVP honors after batting .286 with two home runs – and 1970.
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Robinson won his first league MVP with the Reds in 1961, when he led the National League with a .611 slugging percentage, blasting 37 home runs. With Baltimore in 1966, he won the Triple Crown — leading the American League with a .316 batting average, 49 home runs and 122 RBIs – en route to the AL MVP award.
Robinson later managed the Indians, Orioles, San Francisco Giants, Montreal Expos and, most recently, the Washington Nationals from 2005-2006. Though his clubs never finished first and posted a combined 1,065-1,176 record, Robinson was a trailblazer, opening the door for African American and other minority managers in the years since.
Robinson worked as an executive with MLB after he finished managing.
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a player in 1982, Robinson sports an Orioles cap on his plaque. Robinson was the NL MVP with Cincinnati in 1961 and Baltimore in 1966. The Reds, Orioles and Indians have retired Robinson’s No. 20 and saluted him with statues at their ballparks. He’s also in the Nationals’ Ring of Honor.
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The baseball player was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by President George W. Bush. The award honors “individuals for an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
“Frank Robinson played the game of baseball with total integrity and steadfast determination,” an announcer said during the award ceremony. Robinson was awarded “for his extraordinary achievements as a baseball player and manager for setting a lasting example of character and athletics.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.