In his Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James rates Frank Robinson as the 3rd best right fielder of all time and the 24th best player of all time according to his Win Shares rating system. The comments James reprints about Robinson portray a guy who was competitive, combative, angry, and a spectacular player. How you weighed those elements determined whether you loved him or hated him--there wasn't much in between those two extremes. Does that sound familiar?
He plays the game the way the great ones played it--out of pure hate. -Jim Murray
He was a super guy who didn't give anybody any trouble. He got along well with the sportswriters. What could they write bad about him? He was an outstanding player. - Art Fowler
There were several black players on the Reds [but] only Frank Robinson emerged as a leader. He was a quiet guy, but he was definitely a leader because everyone admired him. -Johnny Klippstein. (Klippstein and Fowler quotes are from We Played the Game, Danny Peary)
I thought that Frank was a terrible example for a young team off the diamond because of his social behavior. He could be very crude. There was a lot of drinking on that team, period, and Frank did nothing to help the situation. -Joe Tait in The Curse of Rocky Colavito (Terry Pluto)