Robin Roberts, the Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher who died today at 83, was a hero to many.
"He was a boyhood hero of mine," team president David Montgomery said. "Then I had a chance to meet him personally. I remember pinching myself knowing I was talking to Robin Roberts. His career and stats speak for themselves. But first and foremost he was a friend and we’ll miss him badly."
I know how he feels, as I grew up cheering the Phillies from the mid-1950’s to today. My dad always liked him and often called him a gentleman. We’d try to catch him at Connie Mack Stadium when we could.
They don’t make pitchers like him anymore. For seven straight years he pitched 280 or more innings.
The right-hander was the most productive pitcher in the National League in the first half of the 1950s, topping the league in wins from 1952 to 1955, innings pitched from ’51 to ’55 and complete games from ’52 to ’56.
He won 286 games and put together six consecutive 20-win seasons. Roberts had 45 career shutouts, 2,357 strikeouts and a lifetime ERA of 3.41. He pitched 305 complete games, but also holds the distinction of giving up more home runs than any other major league pitcher.
“Workhorse is a weak description,” Philadelphia Daily News writer Stan Hochman wrote about Roberts in 2003. “He was a mule, stubborn …. and willing to toil from sunup to sundown.”
Years ago while working as a reporter I had a chance to interview him. Afterward, I asked for his autograph on the underside of the bill of a baseball cap I had. But then I continued to wear the hat and sweat soon melted the autograph away.
But I met him. That was enough