Frank Robinson named 1966 AL MVP

Written by: Craig Muder

It is baseball’s ultimate story of redemption, authored by a player whose drive to succeed was unquenchable.

For Frank Robinson, Nov. 8, 1966, completed a journey that began with a perplexing trade and ended with an MVP.

“I am not a fancy guy,” Robinson said. “I’m an uncomplicated, single-minded guy. And my single-mindedness involves baseball. I’ll (win ball games) any way I can.”

Robinson was named the American League Most Valuable Player for 1966 in a unanimous vote following his Triple Crown season. He paced the AL in home runs (49), RBI (122) and batting average (.316) along with on-base percentage (.410), slugging percentage (.637), runs scored (122) and total bases (367).

More importantly for Robinson, he led his Baltimore Orioles to their first AL pennant and then to a World Series sweep of the Dodgers. And he did it all with a bad right knee.

“In May (of 1966), I stretched the tendons in the knee and played the rest of the season in some pain,” Robinson said.

In 1966, Frank Robinson won the American League MVP Award after in a unanimous vote following his Triple Crown season. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

But Robinson’s will to win pushed him through. Traded by the Reds to the Orioles following the 1965 season for Jack Baldschun, Milt Pappas and Dick Simpson,
Robinson left behind in Cincinnati 10 stellar seasons that featured the 1956 Rookie of the Year Award and the 1961 National League MVP.

Upon arrival in Baltimore, Robinson set out to prove that at 30 years old he was far from finished. In six years with the Orioles, he hit better than .300 four times reached the 25-homer mark five times and led Baltimore to four AL pennants and World Series titles in 1966 and 1970.

“What changed around here the most and made us the team we (became) was the arrival of Frank in 1966,” said Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson. “He put our club over the hump.”

Frank Robinson won his first MVP Award in 1961, while playing for the Cincinnati Reds. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Robinson finished his playing career in 1976 with 586 home runs, 1,812 RBI and 14 All-Star Game selections. He became the first African-American manager in big league history in 1975 with the Indians and managed in the majors for 16 seasons with the Indians, Giants, Orioles, Expos and Nationals.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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