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Hall of Famer, pioneering manager Frank Robinson dies at 83

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Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, the first black manager in Major League Baseball, the final manager of the Montreal Expos and the only player to win the MVP award in both leagues, died Thursday. He was 83.

Robinson had recently been in hospice care at his home in Bel Air. MLB confirmed his death.

An MVP with Cincinnati and Baltimore, Robinson cemented his legacy when he became Cleveland’s manager in 1975. The Reds, Orioles and Indians retired his No. 20 and honoured him with statues at their stadiums.

READ MORE: Montreal is ready and willing to welcome Major League Baseball team: study

Fearsome and fearless in the batter’s box, Robinson hit 586 home runs — he was fourth on the career list behind only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays when he retired and now ranks 10th. He won the Triple Crown while leading the Orioles to their first World Series championship in 1966.

An All-Star outfielder in 12 seasons and a first-ballot selection to Cooperstown, Robinson also was a Rookie of the Year and picked up a Gold Glove.

Robinson’s place in the game’s history extended far beyond his abundant playing skills.

READ MORE: New York museum exhibit marks Jackie Robinson centennial

While still active, Robinson fulfilled his quest to become the first African-American manager in the big leagues. In his first at-bat as a player-manager for Cleveland, he hit a home run.

Robinson also managed San Francisco, Baltimore and Montreal. He became the first manager of the Washington Nationals after the franchise moved from Montreal for the 2005 season — he also was in the Nationals’ Ring of Honor.

WATCH: Montrealers weigh in on possible return of the Expos






More than half the major league teams have had black managers since his debut in the Cleveland dugout.

Robinson later spent several years working as an executive for MLB and for a time oversaw the annual Civil Rights Game. He advocated for more minorities throughout baseball and worked with former Commissioner Bud Selig to develop the Selig Rule, directing teams to interview at least one minority candidate before hiring a new manager.

For all he did on and off the field, Robinson was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005.

READ MORE: Montrealers weigh in on bringing back the Expos

Born Aug. 21, 1935, in Beaumont, Texas, Robinson attended McClymonds High School in Oakland, California, and was a basketball teammate of future NBA great Bill Russell. But it was on the diamond, rather than court, where fame awaited Robinson.

Former Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer, who also gained first-ballot entry into the Hall, once called Robinson, “the best player I ever saw.”

Starting out in an era when Mays, Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams were the big hitters, Robinson more than held his own over 21 seasons. He finished with 1,812 RBIs and hit .294 — he played in the World Series five times, and homered in each of them.

READ MORE: Montrealers stand proud as Expos’ Tim Raines inducted into Hall of Fame

Robinson was the only player to hit a ball completely out of old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and once connected for grand slams in consecutive innings of a game. But didn’t just slug away, as evidenced by a .389 on-base average boosted by 1,420 walks against 1,532 strikeouts. Extremely alert on the bases, he had 204 steals.

Robinson played the game with grace, yet was known as fierce competitor who combined hard work with natural talent. He crowded the plate, yielding to no pitcher, and didn’t seem to care about being brushed back or getting hit by a pitch 198 times.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to host pre-season games between Jays and Brewers

“Pitchers did me a favour when they knocked me down,” Robinson said.

“It made me more determined. I wouldn’t let that pitcher get me out.”

And opposing pitchers noticed.

“Frank Robinson might have been the best I ever saw at turning his anger into runs. He challenged you physically as soon as he stepped into the batter’s box, with half his body hanging over the plate,” Hall ace Bob Gibson once wrote.

WATCH BELOW: Remembering the Montreal Expos






“As a rule, I’m reluctant to express admiration for hitters, but I make an exception for Frank Robinson,” Gibson wrote.

Robinson carried a similar philosophy as a baserunner, unapologetically sliding spikes high whenever necessary.

“The baselines belong to the runner, and whenever I was running the bases, I always slid hard,” Robinson declared.

Robinson broke in with a bang as a 20-year-old big leaguer. He tied the first-year record with 38 home runs for Cincinnati in 1956, scored a league-high 122 times and was voted NL Rookie of the Year.

Robinson was the 1961 NL MVP after batting .323 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs for the pennant-winning Reds, and reached career highs in runs (134) and RBIs (136) in 1962. He was an All-Star, too, in 1965, but Reds owner Bill DeWitt decided Robinson was an old-ish 30 and time to make a move.

That December, Robinson was the centerpiece in what would ultimately be one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history, going to Baltimore for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson.

READ MORE: Jackie Robinson Day: ’42’ wins weekend with $27.5M

Robinson became an immediate hit with the Orioles in 1966 as the unanimous AL MVP.

On May 8, he hit a ball out Memorial Stadium. The drive came against Cleveland ace Luis Tiant and the spot where the ball sailed over the left-field wall was marked by a flag that read “HERE” that remained in place until the Orioles left for Camden Yards in 1991.

Robinson batted .316 with 49 home runs and 122 RBIs during his first season in Birdland. He then homered in the first inning of the 1966 World Series opener at Dodger Stadium and capped off the four-game sweep of Los Angeles with another homer off Don Drysdale in a 1-0 win in Game 4.

Robinson hit two home runs against the Reds — of all clubs — in teaming with future Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson to win another crown for the Orioles in 1970.

‘Frank Robinson broke the ice’

All told, Robinson was an All-Star in five of his six seasons with Baltimore, reaching the World Series four times and batting .300 with 179 home runs. The cap on his Cooperstown plaque carries on O’s logo.

Pappas went 30-29 over two-plus seasons with the Reds, Baldschun won one game in 51 appearances over two years with Cincinnati and Simpson hit five home runs as a part-time outfielder for the Reds during two mediocre seasons.

READ MORE: Philadelphia to officially apologize to Jackie Robinson for 1947 racism

Robinson was traded to the Dodgers before the 1972 season. He played for the California Angels in 1973 and was dealt to Cleveland late in the 1974 season.

Hired to guide the Indians in 1975, he made an immediate impact. Opening at home, and batting second as the designated hitter, Robinson hit a home run in the first inning as Cleveland beat the Yankees.

Robinson had coached for the Orioles and worked in their front office when he became their manager in 1988 after the team opened at 0-6. Things didn’t get much better right away as Baltimore went on to lose its first 21 games and finished 54-107. The next season, the O’s went 87-75 and Robinson was voted AL Manager of the Year.

WATCH: Montreal Expos star poised to be inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame






Tough and demanding, he went 1,065-1,176 overall as a big league manager.

A no-nonsense guy, Robinson also had a sharp wit. That served him well in Baltimore where, in addition to being a star right fielder, he was the judge for the team’s Kangaroo Court, assessing playful fines for missing signs, uniform mishaps and other things he deemed as infractions.

At the time, the Orioles had a batboy named Jay Mazzone, whose hands were amputated when he was 2 after a burning accident. Mazzone capably did his job for years with metal hooks and became good friends with Robinson.

READ MORE: Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s colour barrier – starting in Montreal

Some players, though, initially weren’t sure how to treat the teen.

“Frank Robinson broke the ice,” Mazzone said. “He was running his Kangaroo Court and calling a vote among the players, whether to fine somebody or not.”

“It was either thumbs up or thumbs down,” he recalled. “After the vote, he said, ‘Jay, you’re fined for not voting.’ Everybody laughed. After that, I was treated just like everybody else.”



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A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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