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Frank Robinson, former Nationals manager, dead at 83

Robinson dies after battle with bone cancer

WASHINGTON — The first manager of the Washington Nationals, Frank Robinson, has died Thursday.

Robinson passed away in Los Angeles after a battle with bone cancer.

The baseball Hall of Famer became the manager of the then Montreal Expos in 2002. He would be with the team through Montreal's move to Washington.

On April 20, 2006, Frank Robinson won his 1,000th career game as a manager. A little more than five months later, Robinson managed his final game Oct. 1, 2006.

Robinson finished his stint with the Expos-Nationals, his longest as a manager with any team, with a record of 385-425.

He was inducted into the Washington Nationals Ring of Honor on May 9, 2015, for his "significant contribution to the game of baseball in Washington, D.C." 

The Nationals released the following statement on behalf of Managing Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner:

“The Lerner family and the entire Washington Nationals organization extend our deepest condolences to the family of Frank Robinson. Frank was one-of-a-kind. A trailblazer throughout his career, he was steadfast and courageous in his defense of justice and diversity in the game of baseball. In addition to his Hall of Fame playing career, Frank broke down barriers, was a leader and mentor. Not only did he lead our team in our early years, helping to establish our culture and develop young players, but he remained connected throughout the years with our organization. His contributions to our team helped set us on a path to success and his continued presence helped remind us why we love this game. He was an ambassador for both the Nationals and the game throughout the city, but was especially fond of sharing stories with children from a nearby elementary school about his time in the big leagues. More than all of this, he was a dear friend to our family and will always be remembered as being an important part of the Nationals family.” 

Current National Ryan Zimmerman has been on the team since he was drafted in 2005. He's the lone remaining National who played on the team while Robinson was manager.

Zimmerman released the following statement:

“Frank was my first big league manager. I still remember being so nervous to walk into his office and introduce myself. He was a living legend and I was a twenty-year-old kid right out of college. I can honestly say that meeting was the last time I ever felt that way around him. From that day on, he took care of me and treated me like a son. He was hard on me and at times I wondered why. I’m positive my career was shaped by the way he treated me and pushed me to be a professional. He taught me so many lessons about baseball and life that I will keep with me and pass along to teammates, friends and even my two daughters. We kept in touch through the years with phone calls, breakfast or lunch when I was on the west coast and locker room visits. He will be deeply missed by so many people. Thank you Frank for all that you did for me. You made baseball, and more importantly this world, a better place.”

Frank Robinson made history when the Hall of Famer became Major League Baseball's first African American manager in 1975, when he became player-manager for the Cleveland Indians.

In his first at bat as a player-manager, he hit a home run.

Related: Wise: Frank Robinson 'genuinely lived baseball'

Robinson had his greatest success as a manager with the Orioles in 1989, when he led Baltimore to a 87-75 record. The previous season, the Orioles lost 107 games. Frank Robinson won AL manager of the year in 1989.

Before his managerial career, Frank Robinson enjoyed great success as an outfielder.

Robinson was 14-time all-star, and is the only player ever to win the MVP award in both the American and National leagues.

Robinson won two World Series titles with the Orioles as a player, and was named World Series MVP in 1966.

The Baseball Hall of Famer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in November 2005.

The Angelos family released the following statement on the former Orioles legend:

"Frank Robinson was not only one of the greatest players in Orioles history, but was also one of the premier players in the history of baseball. Fans will forever remember Frank for his 1966 season in which he won the Triple Crown and was named MVP during a year that brought Baltimore its first World Series championship. His World Series MVP performance capped off one of the greatest individual seasons in baseball history. An Orioles legend and a Baseball Hall of Famer, Frank brought us so many wonderful memories, including two championships, during his time in Baltimore.

"As the first African-American manager in Major League history, Frank was a proponent of civil rights causes on and off the field, including policies that paved the way for minorities to have increased access to executive and management positions in baseball. His leadership in the front office and as manager of the Orioles was highlighted by being named the American League Manager of the Year in 1989. To this day, Frank remains the only person in Orioles history to serve as a player, coach, manager, and front office executive.

"Frank’s contributions to the Orioles and his work as an ambassador for Major League Baseball will never be forgotten. This is a difficult day for our entire organization and for our many fans. We extend our condolences to his wife, Barbara, his daughter, Nichelle, his entire family, and his many friends across our game."

Frank Robinson, who grew up in the Bay Area in California, played high school basketball at McClymonds High School with future NBA legend Bill Russell.

The NBA Hall of Famer tweeted his thoughts on the passing of his classmate, and friend, Frank Robinson.

"Heartbreaking news in the passing of my Dear Friend & @McClymondsHS classmate Frank Robinson," tweeted Russell. "It was my pleasure & great honor to have known him. We all know we lost one of the Greats, what we really lost was a Friend."

Frank Robinson was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, along with Hank Aaron.

Aaron tweeted his condolences.

"Frank Robinson and I were more than baseball buddies. We were friends," tweeted Hank Aaron. "Frank was a hard nosed baseball player who did things on the field that people said could never be done.I’m so glad I had the chance to know him all of those years. Baseball will miss a tremendous human being." 

Robinson is survived by his wife, Barbara, a son and a daughter.