The LuLac Edition #1195, May 30th, 2010
THE “Y” DRIVE
As we celebrate the accomplishments of a current Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, Roy Halliday on his Perfect Game yesterday, we can’t ignore the great career of Robin Roberts. Roberts died earlier this month and when I heard the news, again it was another chip of my boyhood being chiseled away. By the time I was following baseball 100% of the time, Robin Roberts had seen his best days as a pitcher. But I had heard the stories of his glory days from my dad and uncles. A member of the 1950 Whiz Kids, Roberts was a durable Phillies pitcher. He was a mainstay and a throwback to time when there was no pitch count for hurlers. They just went out there and chucked it. When I was collecting cards and living and dying with the ’64 Phillies Roberts was pitching for the Baltimore Orioles. It was mandated that when the Yanks played the Birds that year and if Roberts happened to be pitching, we watched that game. My dad said he had lost a lot but thought I should see the guy pitch. Look at these numbers: Between 1950 and 1955 Roberts won 20 games each season, leading the NL in victories from 1952 to 1955. Six times he led the league in games started, five times in complete games and innings pitched, and once pitched 28 complete games in a row. During his career, Roberts never walked more than 77 batters in any regular season. In addition, he helped himself as a fielder as well as with his bat, hitting 55 doubles, 10 triples, and five home runs with 103 RBI.
His 28 wins in 1952, were the most in the National League since 1935, the year Dizzy Dean also won 28 games. In 1953 he went 23-16. Think about that, 23 wins, 16 losses, That’s nearly 40 games pitched!!!! A little known fact is that Roberts was a Yankee in 1962 but never was used. When I saw him as an Oriole he compiled a winning 42-36 record with them. He finished his career at Reading in the minors in 1967.
Roberts entered the Hall of Fame in the Bicentennial Year of 1976. I had the opportunity to meet him at the 20th reunion of the 1964 Phillies in 1984 at the Vet. The photo you see was taken by long time professional photographer Ned Rowan. I was interviewing Roberts about his career and the ’64 Phils. He said as an Oriole he was pulling for his old team. Roberts’ number 36 was retired by the Phils and he is not only a part of Phillies history but baseball’s as well. His work ethic will be his enduring legacy to the sport. Roberts was one of those rare players that loved the sport and best of all for him and us, baseball loved him back.