Thursday, May 06, 2010

Robin Roberts

Many of my younger whipper snapper friends in the blogosphere never saw Robin Roberts pitch but I did...a few times. I was a teenager in Baltimore when Roberts was traded to the Orioles. He arrived something of an enigma since he was coming from the other league. In those days nationally televised games were a rarity, interleague play non-existent and Philadelphia, 100 miles north, the only nearby city with an NL team. Thus, Roberts was a relative unknown though he'd been an outstanding pitcher for many years by the time of his trade.

When Roberts arrived in Baltimore the Orioles were a work in progress. Many of the pieces that would form the nucleus of the great teams of the late sixties and early seventies were being assembled. Brooks Robinson was there. Dave McNally and Boog Powell were on board. Jim Palmer was a 19 year old in Roberts last season. Frank Robinson would not arrive until the year following Roberts' departure. Two years later the Orioles would sweep the Dodgers for their first World Series triumph. Four years later they began the first of three straight WS appearances with their stunning loss to the Mets.

While with the O's, Roberts won 42 games and lost 36, compiling a 3.10 ERA and throwing 28 complete games. Of all his statistics, the 305 complete games for his career stand out. Of course, it was a different era, but his durability was astonishing.

Between his retirements and yesterday morning, when Roberts passed away, he was an occasional presence at Spring Training and when the Phils were in a celebratory mood for one reason or another. He always came across as a warm, likable man first and as a great pitcher second.

Last night Comcast rebroadcast a lengthy interview Al Meltzer did with Roberts a few years ago. If baseball ever needed an instructional video on modesty and grace they could show this tape.

1 comment:

Matty said...

A class act on and off the field, before and after retirement.