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Volume 26 No. 7
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Frank Robinson Leaves Lasting Legacy Both On, Off Diamond

Robinson finished his managing career with the Nationals after the '06 MLB season
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

FRANK ROBINSON, one of the "most impactful figures in baseball history" who became the first African-American manager in MLB, died Thursday at 83, according to Nightengale & Gardner of USA TODAY. Few men have had a "greater impact as a player, a manager and an executive than Robinson, who was so revered and respected that three different franchises retired his uniform number, No. 20, and erected statues in his honor" (USA TODAY, 2/8). MLB Commissioner ROB MANFRED on Thursday at the owners' meetings in Orlando praised the late HOFer, who held a wide variety of administrative roles in the league office after his playing and managing career. Manfred: "It's rare that we'll see somebody again excel in all these areas. Maybe never. ... All-in guy whatever topic you put him on" (Eric Fisher, THE DAILY). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond writes Robinson's impact "extended far beyond the confines of the field." He was a "pioneer in his sport’s checkered racial past, barreling through a wall that remained nearly three decades after JACKIE ROBINSON broke the color barrier" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/8).

BIGGER THAN BASEBALL: In N.Y., Michael Powell writes under the header, "Baseball Could Use More Frank Robinsons." Powell: "As with all things African-American and Major League Baseball, Robinson looms as a figure out of the Mesozoic Age." Less than 8% of major league players are African-American, and currently there is only one manager in the Dodgers' DAVE ROBERTS. That is a "deeply perplexing shortfall" which "persists year after year after year" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/8). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes, "As baseball laments the shortage of African American players in today’s game, Robinson was part of a golden age" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/8). SI.com's Jack Dickey wrote Robinson "never got all the credit he deserved as a player or as a pioneer." The "minefield through which he had to tiptoe as a proud, ambitious and complicated black superstar presented a more potent challenge" to him than success on the field, one that "persisted long after his playing days were over" (SI.com, 2/7). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes Robinson long before he passed away was "already one of baseball’s immortals" (BALTIMORE SUN, 2/8). MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger said, “When I think of him being the first African-American manager, it puts him automatically on the Mount Rushmore of race in baseball" (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 2/7).

THE RIGHT STUFF: ESPN.com noted Robinson "dealt with racism and segregation during his career." But he said that his accomplishments "pale in comparison to those of Jackie Robinson." Though the two were "unrelated, they were often mentioned together" (ESPN.com, 2/7). THE RINGER's Michael Baumann wrote Robinson "became an advocate for civil rights as the face of the fight against housing segregation in Baltimore." Meanwhile, his life in baseball is its "own multigenerational epic" (THERINGER.com, 2/8). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown: "Say goodbye to a piece of the best part of the game, and then to a piece of what the game was before men such as Frank Robinson were asked to play it, to manage it, to love it, to trust it" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/7). MLB Network’s Carlos Pena said, “When you look at Frank Robinson, he was in a position of leadership, a position of power, and was the first one to do so." Pena: "When we throw those words around, ‘trail blazer’ and ‘pioneer,’ with him coming into a position of leadership in baseball, he was an image of a movement forward as a nation when it comes to civil rights" (“MLB Now,” MLB Network, 2/7).