Frank Robinson, the feared slugger who became the first black manager in major league baseball, died Thursday at 83, according to Major League Baseball.
Robinson died in California with family by his side, Major League Baseball said. The statement didn’t say how Robinson died.
Robinson was rookie of the year for the Cincinnati Reds as a 20-year-old in 1956. That began a 21-year career in which he played for five teams and became the first to win the most valuable player award in both leagues.
In his 1966 season, he had one of the greatest offensive outputs in baseball history. He led the league in the three Triple Crown categories (.316 batting average, 49 home runs and 122 runs batted in) and guided his new team, the Baltimore Orioles, to a World Series title.
In his career, Robinson hit 586 home runs, 10th of all time in the majors.
In 1975, he became player-manager of the Cleveland Indians. He managed until 2006, when he finished his career with the Washington Nationals.
“Frank Robinson’s résumé in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations,” Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “He was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career.”
Robinson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
Former Orioles pitching great Jim Palmer said Robinson inspired all his teammates.
“Another sad day in Birdland with the passing of Frank Robinson,” Palmer tweeted. “Played the game tough, hard but fair. Made all of us better players, and winners. My condolences to his family.”
Basketball legend Bill Russell said Robinson was a good friend.
“Heartbreaking news in the passing of my Dear Friend & @McClymondsHS classmate Frank Robinson,” he wrote on Twitter. “It was my pleasure & great honor to have known him. We all know we lost one of the Greats, what we really lost was a Friend.”