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Frank Robinson Used America’s Pastime to Change America’s Culture

February 7, 2019




Thursday, February 7, 2019


Frank Robinson Used America’s Pastime to Change America’s Culture

A statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

America lost a giant today and I lost a lifelong friend, a trailblazing freedom fighter in baseball cleats, Frank Robinson. Our prayers of comfort go out to his family, friends, baseball colleagues and mourning fans.

Like the great Jackie Robinson, Frank Robinson (no relation) used baseball – America’s pastime – to change America’s culture.

A tough, take no prisoners, hard-nosed, aggressive hitter and base runner in his playing days, Robinson became the first black manager in baseball as Player/Manager of the Cleveland Indians in 1975. 

He went on to manage three other teams including the Giants, Orioles and Montreal Expos who became the Washington Nationals.  While he was one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game he will be remembered as much more than merely a baseball player. He fought fiercely for civil rights on and off the field.

The Hall of Fame slugger was the only winner of the Most Valuable Player award in both the National and American Leagues. His accomplishments over 60 years in baseball are spectacular; he won the 1956 Rookie of the Year award; he hit 586 home runs (10th all-time); he won the triple crown with the Orioles in 1966; he had a career average of .294; he scored 1,829 runs, he drove in 1,812 RBIs; and because of his standing so close to home plate while batting he was hit 198 times (10th most all time). 

He also had 10 homers and 19 RBIs in 35 postseason games while playing for the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles.  In 1989, as Orioles Manager, he was named American League Manager of the Year.  Both he and his good friend Hank Aaron were voted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame at the same time in 1982.

Ever the critic of Major League Baseball (MLB) for its lack of black managers and general managers, MLB nevertheless eventually appointed Robinson Director of On Field Operations where he incurred the wrath of both players and managers for his disciplinary actions of stiff fines and suspensions of players for violating baseball’s rules.  He soon returned to the field as Manager of the Expos for their last two years in Montreal and their initial years when they moved and became the Washington Nationals.

Robinson was born in Beaumont, Texas, but grew up in Oakland, California where he played baseball at McClymonds High School that also produced two other outstanding major league players, Vada Pinson and Curt Flood.  Robinson signed with the Cincinnati Reds for $3,500 in 1953 and in just three years made it to the big leagues.

Wherever he was, Frank Robinson was the best at what he did.

I miss him already.



Frank Watkins


Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.