Inside Pitch

Dec. 9, 1965: Frank Robinson traded to Orioles

By THOMAS LAWRENCE
December 7, 2009


COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – For a man who was “an old 30” in 1966, Frank Robinson sure had a lot of baseball left in him.

The man who called Robinson “old,” Reds general manager Bill DeWitt, traded Robinson away to Baltimore on Dec. 9, 1965. Cincinnati received Milt Pappas, who won only 30 games for the Reds before being traded away to Atlanta, as well as Jack Baldschun, who won only one game for Cincy, and Dick Simpson – who hit .246 with the club.

Frank Robinson won the AL Triple Crown in 1966. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Robinson, on the other hand, burst out of the gate with the Orioles, winning the batting title at a mark of .316 and leading the league in home runs (49) and RBIs (122) in 1966. His efforts made him the American League’s Most Valuable Player – the only player to do so in both leagues.

The season for Robinson marked the first American League Triple Crown since 1956, when Mickey Mantle exploded for a .353 average with 52 home runs and 130 RBIs. Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown next year for Boston, and nobody has done it since.

A native of Beaumont, Texas, Robinson also helped lead the Orioles to the World Series title that season, slugging two homers in the Fall Classic against the Los Angeles Dodgers of Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax to lead Baltimore to a 4-games-to-0 sweep.

Brooks Robinson, Frank’s Hall of Fame teammate, was grateful for his counterpart’s presence in Baltimore.

“He put our club over the hump,” Brooks Robinson said. “Frank gave everything of himself and we accepted everything he gave us.”

Robinson was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first try in 1982, only the 18th player to do so. His plaque features an Orioles cap.

His 586 home runs rank seventh all-time behind Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr., Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

“He solidified the club,” Brooks Robinson said. “We became a great team when he came to know us and how much he could do for all of us.”

Modern-Era Triple Crown Winners

Player

Team

Year

AVG/HR/RBI

Carl Yastrzemski BOS 1967 .326/44/121
Frank Robinson BAL 1966 .316/49/122
Mickey Mantle NYY 1956 .353/52/130
Ted Williams BOS 1947 .343/32/114
Ted Williams BOS 1942 .356/36/137
Joe Medwick STL 1937 .374/31/154
Lou Gehrig NYY 1934 .363/49/165
Jimmie Foxx PHA 1933 .356/48/163
Chuck Klein PHI 1933 .368/28/120
Rogers Hornsby STL 1925 .403/39/143
Rogers Hornsby STL 1922 .401/42/152
Ty Cobb DET 1909 .377/9/107
Nap Lajoie PHA 1901 .426/14/125


Thomas Lawrence was the 2009 Publication Intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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