Pitchers did me a favor when they knocked me down. It made me more determined. I wouldn't let that pitcher get me out. They say you can't hit if you're on your back. But I didn't hit on my back. I got up.
- Frank Robinson
Frank Robinson was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1935, and he made his Major League debut with the Reds in 1956. That year, Frank hit 38 home runs, won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and helped the Reds finish within two games of the NL pennant. He would go on to have an extraordinary career, winning the NL MVP for the Reds in 1961 and being selected to All-Star teams in twelve seasons (six with the Reds). Robinson also won a Gold Glove Award in 1958 as an outfielder (where he played most of the time), but he played first base in over 300 games in his career.
In a surprising move, the Reds traded Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles after the 1965 season, because, as Reds General Manager Bill DeWitt said, "Robinson had reached his peak." The next year, Robinson won the American League MVP, won the Triple Crown (leading the league in home runs, RBIs, and batting average), and helped lead the Orioles to a World Championship. Robinson was still producing at a high level as an All-Star right fielder on the 1970 Baltimore club that defeated the Reds in the World Series. Arguably, the trade that sent Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun, and Dick Simpson to the Reds in exchange for Robinson goes down in history as the worst trade the Reds have ever made.
Robinson spent ten of his twenty-one Major League seasons with the Reds, and he ranks second in all-time Reds history in career home runs, fourth in runs scored, and fourth in extra base hits. When he retired from baseball in 1976, he had amassed 586 career home runs (currently seventh in baseball history), and ranks in the all-time top 20 for runs scored, RBIs, and total bases. Robinson was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1978, and was enshrined in the National Hall of Fame (as an Oriole) in 1982. The Reds retired Robinson's No. 20 in 1998, and in 1999, he was ranked No. 22 on the Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. A statue of Robinson at the plate can be seen at Crosley Terrace near the main entrance of Great American Ball Park.