Today Cincinnati area baseball fans are mourning the loss of an icon whose talents were celebrated in both the American and National baseball leagues.
Major League luminary Frank Robinson died Thursday, February 7, at age 83.
Cincinnati fans fondly remember Robinson for leading “the Cincinnati Reds to a National League pennant.” (*)
In 2011 Reds Team Historian Greg Rhodes recalled the joyous day, September 26, 1961:
“...The Cincinnati Reds had just clinched the 1961 National League pennant...Thousands of fans spontaneously descended on [Fountain] Square, where they nearly mobbed the team bus carrying the Reds, who had just returned from winning an afternoon game in Chicago…. (**)
“The Cincinnati victory, combined with the Los Angeles loss in Pittsburgh around 9 p.m. that evening, made it official: the Reds had won the pennant and would go to the World Series for the first time in twenty-one years,” he continued. (**)
Unfortunately for Reds fans, the New York Yankees prevailed and won the 1961 World Series. (***)
Four years later Cincy fans were distressed when the Reds traded Robinson, a decision that confounded many in the baseball world. In fact, the trade was so infamous that it ultimately became a line in the 1988 movie, “Bull Durham”:
"Bad trades are a part of baseball; I mean who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake?") ****
During his illustrious career Robinson :
-- Was the only major league player selected Most Valuable Player in both the American and National leagues. (*)
-- Was hired by the Cleveland Indians as baseball’s first black major league manager. (*)
-- Represented the American League in four World Series playing for the Baltimore Orioles. (*)
-- Hit 586 home runs in 21 years of play. (*)
In 2005 Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President George W. Bush. He was one of only 13 baseball players to win the medal, the nation's highest honor for civilians along with the Congressional Gold Medal. (*****)
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Sources for article:
*“The 2018 Chase’s Calendar of Events.” Published by Rowman & Littlefield. The 2019 edition is now available at MidPointe Library.
**”Before the Machine -- The Story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Cincinnati Reds” by Mark J. Schmetzer. Foreword by Greg Rhodes. Available at MidPointe Library and on “Hoopla,” accessible via www.midpointelibrary.org