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Baseball great Frank Robinson passed away on Thursday at the age of 83.
Robinson was a star athlete at McClymonds High School in Oakland, California. And he was not the only star athlete at the school. One of his teammates on the basketball team was Bill Russell, while on the baseball diamond at McClymonds and at the local American Legion Post his teammates included Vada Pinson (a lifelong friend who would also be his teammate with Cincinnati) and Curt Flood. At McClymonds, he was coached by a local legend, George Powles, who was seen as a mentor by many young men.
After High School, he signed a contract to play professional baseball in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He made quick work of the minor leagues, joining the big club at age 20 in 1956. He hit the ground running, tying a record for most home runs hit by a rookie (38, since broken) en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award. He would continue as a star player for the Reds for the next decade, impressing with both his results and his hard-nosed style of play (no player slid into second base harder to break up a double play and he crowded the plate daring pitchers to throw inside resulting in his leading the league in hit by pitches seven times). He would win the NL Most Valuable Player award in 1961 as he led the Reds to the pennant with a .323, 37 HR, 124 RBI line (Cincinnati would lose the World Series to the Yankees). He probably had an even better season in 1962 (.342, 39 HR, 136 RBI and leading the league in slugging percentage for the third consecutive season).