Orioles legend Frank Robinson, who died earlier this month of bone cancer, will be honored with a public celebration of his barrier-breaking life and donations to museums dedicated to civil rights and African-American culture, the team announced today.
Players, now participating in workouts in Sarasota, Florida, will have a commemorative patch with Robinson’s number 20 on the sleeve of their jerseys for all spring training and regular season games.
As a tribute to Robinson, who became more of an outspoken civil rights activist after he was traded to Baltimore in 1965 and struggled to find housing in the segregated city and, years later, the first African-American manager in the sport’s history, the Orioles will make $20,000 donations to the Reginald F. Lewis of African American History and Culture, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.
Representatives from each museum will be honored before the team’s home opener against the New York Yankees on April 4, and there will be a video tribute and moment of silence.
“Throughout his 50-year career in professional baseball, Frank Robinson blazed a trail for the African American players, coaches, managers, and executives who followed in his footsteps,” Orioles executive vice president Jon Angelos said in a statement. “In honor of his tireless commitment to civil rights issues–including his efforts to improve housing opportunities for African Americans here in Baltimore–the Orioles will partner with three remarkable institutions that highlight the achievements of African Americans throughout our nation’s history.”
The team has plans for another celebration of Robinson, with guest speakers and a video tribute, for a later date in April.
And throughout the season, a back band will be placed over Robinson’s retired number marker on the facade of the left field upper deck.
Following the 1965 trade, Robinson went on to win the Triple Crown in the 1966 season, propelling the Orioles to their first World Series title. He took home MVP honors that year, and remains the only player to win the award in both the American and National League.
Robinson remained on the team through the 1971 season, after which he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 1988, he took over as manager of the Orioles in the midst of the the crushing 1988 season, and famously guided the club to playoff contention the very next year.
Robinson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.