Indians set to unveil Robinson statue today

Indians set to unveil Robinson statue today

CLEVELAND -- Before the Indians and the Royals play the second game of their series at Progressive Field on Saturday, the Tribe will unveil a new statue to commemorate Frank Robinson, one of the game's all-time greats and Major League Baseball's first African-American manager in 1975.

The statue will honor Robinson for being one of baseball's pioneers, as the 1982 Hall of Fame inductee spent 21 seasons as a player and over 20 seasons as a manager and coach. Robinson served as a player-manager for the Indians for two seasons beginning in '75 before he retired as a player and managed the team in '77. The statue will reside in Progressive Field's Heritage Park beyond the center-field wall.

Indians manager Terry Francona said that he and the team look forward to the statue ceremony, and will make changes to their pregame routine to witness it.

"We're going to alter our batting practice a little bit," Francona said. "We'll have optional hitting on the field and we'll have some more in the cage so we can accommodate our guys, but also go out [to the ceremony] as a team. It'll really be an honor to be able to be a part of the audience watching."

Hall of Famer Hank Aaron -- who held MLB's all-time home run record from 1974 to 2007 -- will be in attendance at the ceremony. Sharon Robinson, the daughter of Jackie Robinson, will also be on hand for the unveiling of the statue.

Robinson began his managerial career with the Indians, and went on to manage the Giants, Orioles, Montreal Expos and Nationals. As a player, Robinson finished his career with 586 home runs, which ranks 10th on the all-time list. In his over two-decade career, he played for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians, hitting .294 with 2,943 hits and 1,812 RBIs.

"Huh, are you kidding me? He was a force," Francona said. "When you talk to guys like my dad [Tito Francona], he had a lot of respect for how [Robinson] played the game."

The ceremony will take place at 2:15 p.m. ET. Following the series finale against the Royals on Sunday, SportsTime Ohio will air a one-hour special on the event with footage from Saturday's statue unveiling.

William Kosileski is a reporter for based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.