Good morning Obots!
Today’s famous first — Frank Robinson, the first black manager in the major leagues.
While playing with the Orioles, Robinson had set his sights on becoming a major league manager. He knew the odds were against him. Despite integration of players, no black or Latino had ever managed a big league team, much less made it into the executive ranks.
In 1975, in a historic move, Robinson was named the Cleveland Indians’ player-manager. The appointment came with a hitch, however: Much to Robinson’s displeasure, the Indians refused to give him even a token raise over his player’s salary.
“If they were to release me right now, I would get $180,000 over the next year,” he relates telling his agent. “If I take the job to manage the ball-club, and also play, I get the same amount. But they’ve put me in a position where they know I almost can’t refuse their offer. . . . If I turn the job down, that would just give other owners an excuse not to hire me or other blacks.”
Robinson ultimately took the Cleveland job, becoming the first African-American manager in baseball. In 1980 Robinson became the first black manager in the National League when he took over the San Francisco Giants. In984, he returned to his old home, the Baltimore Orioles, as a coach in 1985, and in 1988 was appointed manager. At the season’s end, he was the unanimous choice for the Manager of the Year. Robinson was the first manager to win the award in both leagues.
Frank Robinson’s life in baseball has been one of unremitting commitment to excellence, as witnessed by his Rookie of the Year, two MVPs, and two manager of the Year awards, his presence on 12 All-Star teams in both major leagues, and his first ballot induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame. His outspoken courage in criticizing baseball’s discrimination against people of color and his own success in overcoming racial barriers have earned him an equally important place in the sport’s history.