Robinson: 'It's been a good ride'

Associated Press

Frank Robinson will not be back as the Washington Nationals' manager in 2007, the team said yesterday, a day before its season will end with a third consecutive last-place finish.

The Hall of Famer was told during the week that he wouldn't be back, and made that clear to reporters, but the Nationals didn't make it official until yesterday.

"It's been a good ride for me. It's been 51 years. And the old saying is, 'When you take a manager's job, stay around long enough - you are going to be fired.' It's been a great run for me, and I mean that sincerely," Robinson said. "I have no bitter feelings or anything like that about the situation."

Robinson, 71, has managed the Expos-Nationals for the past five seasons. As the most-recognizable member of a team that moved from Montreal to Washington before the 2005 season, he became the face of the franchise.

Robinson joined the club when it was still in Montreal and was purchased by Major League Baseball in 2002. The Expos went 83-79 in each of Robinson's first two seasons, finishing second and fourth, before sinking to 67-95 in 2004.

"He took care of this team when no one really wanted to," catcher Brian Schneider said last week.

Robinson led the Nationals through their magical first half of 2005, filled with comebacks and one-run wins en route to a 50-31 record and first place in July. But a second-half fade left them 81-81.

As a manager over 16 seasons with four teams, Robinson never approached the success he had as a power-hitting outfielder who ranks sixth in major league history with 586 home runs.

He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1956, the NL Most Valuable Player in 1961 and the AL MVP in 1966, when he won the Triple Crown.

As a player-manager for the Cleveland Indians in 1975, he became the first black manager in major league history, and he won 1989 AL Manager of the Year honors while with the Orioles.

His overall record is 1,065-1,086 with no postseason appearances.

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