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This Day in History: August 31

Frank Robinson, Legendary Baseball Slugger, Was Born

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Frank Robinson from Cincinnati Reds’ Twitter

He helped usher in an era of black baseball stars

When Robinson signed with the Cincinnati Reds as a 17-year-old in 1953, Major League Baseball still wasn’t fully integrated. Brooklyn Dodgers all-star Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier just six years prior to Robinson’s contract signing. Robinson says his first minor league assignment in Ogden, Utah was the first time he experienced racism.

“Ogden was in a Mormon state, and though I didn’t know it at that time, the Mormon religion insisted that Negroes were inferior beings,” Robinson wrote in his 1988 autobiography Extra Innings. “I got my first taste of racial bigotry in Ogden.”

Robinson persevered through constant racial taunts and harassment on the field and in public. He would be called up by the Reds in 1956, where he made an immediate impact. Robinson won N.L. rookie of the year and was named an All-Star in his first year in Cincinnati. He burst onto the scene around the same time when other black stars like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and were becoming some of the biggest stars in the sport.

Robinson’s career accolades include 14 All-Star selections, two World Series Championships and a triple crown. Robinson is also the only player to win the Most Valuable Player award in both the National and American Leagues—earning the honors as a member of the Reds in 1961 and with the Baltimore Orioles in 1966. He currently sits 10th on the all-time home run list with 586 homers. Robinson was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

 

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