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MLB’s First Black Manager, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Dies at 83

Robinson is also the first and only player to win the MVP award in both the National and American leagues

Frank Robinson, an American Leaguer, wears a Baltimore Oriole uniform in this undated photo. (G. Marshall Wilson/Ebony Collection)

Frank Robinson, the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball, died at his Los Angeles home on Thursday. He was 83.

The Hall of Famer was born in Beaumont, Texas, on Aug. 31, 1935, and grew up in Oakland, California, where he played high school basketball, writes ESPN. Robinson is also the first and only player to win the MVP award in both the National and American Leagues, according to the Washington Post.

Frank Robinson relaxes in his Cleveland Indians uniform in this undated photo. He is the first African-American to manage a major league team. (Isaac Sutton/Ebony Collection)

“We are deeply saddened by this loss of our friend, colleague and legend, who worked in our game for more than 60 years,” commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN. “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Frank’s wife Barbara, daughter Nichelle, their entire family and the countless fans who admired this great figure of our National Pastime.”

Robinson won the National League’s Rookie of the Year award in 1956 during his first season with the Cincinnati Reds, and in 1961, he led the team to the World Series when he won his first MVP Award.

In 1975, he became the first Black manager of a Major League Baseball team, the Cleveland Indians.

Frank Robinson, manager of the San Francisco Giants was the first black to manage a baseball team in the major leagues. He was hired in 1974 as player-manager of the Cleveland Indians. (Vandell Cobb/Ebony Collection)

“They said this was the chance for you to break that barrier,” Robinson told Outside the Lines in 2016. “Open the door and to let more African-Americans to have the opportunity to come through it.”

In 1982, he was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. President George W. Bush awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2005.

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