On April 8, 1975, against the New York Yankees in Cleveland, the Indians' Frank Robinson becomes the first African American to manage a game in Major League Baseball. Robinson, who also bats second, homers in his first at-bat in Cleveland's 5-3 win. Nearly 28 years earlier, the Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson—no relation to Frank—became the first African American to play in the big leagues.
Frank Robinson starred in the big leagues for the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles and also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and California Angels. In 1975, he was 39 and in his 20th MLB season as a player.
The Indians hired Robinson as manager shortly after the 1974 season, replacing Ken Aspromonte. Although Robinson knew he was making history, he wanted to be judged only for how well his teams performed.
"I don't see any problem firing me or any Black manager," he said.
The Indians finished 79-80 in 1975, and Robinson was fired partway through the 1977 season. In 1981, Robinson became the first Black manager in the National League when the San Francisco Giants hired him to replace Dave Bristol. He also managed the Orioles, Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals.
Robinson, who died of bone cancer at 83 on February 7, 2019, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982. A statue was dedicated to him outside MLB stadiums in Baltimore, Cleveland and Cincinnati.