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Robin Roberts

Pitcher
Born: September 30, 1926 (1926-09-30) (age 83)
Springfield, Illinois
Batted: Switch Threw: Right 
MLB debut
June 18, 1948 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Last MLB appearance
August 26, 1966 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
Win-Loss record     286-245
Earned run average     3.41
Strikeouts     2,357
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1976
Vote     86.86%

Robin Evan Roberts (born September 30, 1926) is an American former Major League Baseball starting pitcher who pitched primarily for the Philadelphia Phillies (1948–61). He spent the latter part of his career with the Baltimore Orioles (1962–65), Houston Astros (1965–66) and Chicago Cubs (1966). He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Roberts has surrendered the most home runs in Major League Baseball, delivering 505.

Contents

Before the Phillies

Roberts was born in Springfield, Illinois. He was the son of an immigrant Welsh coal miner. He arrived in East Lansing, Michigan as part of an Army Air Corps training program.[1] After World War II, Roberts returned to Michigan State University—where he had attended an Army Air Corps training program—to play basketball, not baseball.[2] Almost by accident he became a baseball pitcher for MSU.[2] Roberts led the Spartans' basketball team in field-goal percentage in 1946-1947, was captain of the team during the 1946-1947 and 1949-1950 seasons, and earned three varsity letters in basketball. He wore number 17 for the Spartans.[3] After playing for MSU and spending his second summer playing in Vermont with the Barre-Montpelier Twin City Trojans, he was signed by the Phillies.[4]

With the Phillies

Roberts made his major league debut on June 18, 1948; and in 1950 he led his Phillies---whose overall youth earned them the nickname the Whiz Kids---to its first National League pennant in 35 years. Roberts started three games in the last five days of the season, defeating the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers/Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, in a pennant-deciding, 10-inning game. It was his 20th victory, becoming the Phillies' first 20-game-winner since Grover Cleveland Alexander did it in 1917.

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, the year he won the The Sporting News Player of the Year Award, are the most in the National League since 1935, the year Dizzy Dean also won 28 games.

Although he had 28 wins in 1952, Roberts had his best season[citation needed] in 1953, posting a 23-16 record and leading the NL pitchers in strikeouts with 198[5]. In a career-high 346⅔ innings pitched he walked just 66 batters, and his 2.75 ERA was second in the league behind Warren Spahn's 2.10.

One of the most memorable highlights of his career occurred on May 13, 1954, when Roberts gave up a lead-off home run to Cincinnati Reds player (then known as the "Redlegs") Bobby Adams and then retired 27 consecutive batters to win 8-1, on a one-hit game.

Roberts consistently (11 of 14 years) had a better winning percentage than did the Phillies in games in which he had no decision. Overall, the Phillies were 1020-1136 from 1948-1961. Roberts was 234-199 in that span, for a winning percentage of .5404. Without his decisions, the Phils were 786-937, for a winning percentage of .4562. He was thus .0842 better than his team. This is outstanding, but not uniquely high. Whitey Ford in 16 years with the Yankees had a .114 higher winning percentage than his team (.6900 versus .5757).

The highest differential for Roberts was 1952, when his 28-7 contrasted to a 59-60 in games in which he had no decision. This was a .3043 higher winning percentage than in games in which he had no decision.

He was below the team 3 times. In 1949 he was 15-15 while the Phils were 66-58 (.5322) for a differential of .0322 without his decisions. In 1957 he was 10-22 for a winning percentage of .3125, while without his decisions the Phils were 67-55, for a winning percentage of .5491. The differential was .2367. And in the outlier year of 1961, Roberts was 1-10, for a winning percentage of .0909. The Phils without his decisions were 46-97, with a winning percentage of .3218. So the 1961 differential was .2308, almost as high as in 1957.

Also notable is the decline in his differential as the Phillies declined. From 1948-55, he was 160-102, for a .6107 winning percentage. Without his decisions, the Phils were 473-497, for a winning percentage of .4876. The differential was .1231. From 1956-1961, the Phils were 313-440 without his decisions, for a winning percentage of .4157. Roberts was 74-97, for a winning percentage of .4328, in that 6-year period. His differential declined to .1705.

After the Phillies

After the conclusion of the 1961 season, Roberts sold to the New York Yankees. On February 6, 1962, the Phillies announced that Roberts' uniform number 36 would be retired by the team on March 21, 1962, when the Yankees would visit Clearwater to play the Phillies in a spring training game. It was the first uniform number to be retired by the organization and only the second time after the Yankees' retired Babe Ruth's number 3, that a uniform number was retired while the player was still active.[6] Roberts started for the Yankees in the spring game, gave up four runs in three innings, and was the winning pitcher in the game which the Yankees won 13-10.[7]

He would be released by the Yankees in May 1962 without having appeared in a game. He was signed by the Baltimore Orioles and had several successful seasons for the Orioles, going 42-36 in 3½ seasons before moving on to the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs to conclude his career.

His final major league game was on August 26, 1966, but he pitched for the Reading Phillies during 1967.[8]

Roberts coached the University of South Florida Bulls baseball team from 1977-1985. He led the team to its first NCAA Tournament in 1982.

During the baseball off–season, Roberts toured with the Robin Roberts All–Stars basketball team. He played against other touring teams, such as the Harlem Globetrotters.

Legacy

In his 19-season career, Roberts compiled a 286-245 record with 2,357 strikeouts, a 3.41 ERA, 305 complete games, 45 shutouts, and 4,688⅔ innings pitched in 676 games. He holds the Major League records for home runs allowed by a pitcher (505) and for most consecutive Opening Day starts for the same team with 12, between 1950 and 1961.

The Phillies retired Robin Roberts' number in 1962.

Roberts was the only pitcher in major league history to defeat the Boston Braves, the Milwaukee Braves and the Atlanta Braves.

Robin Roberts was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.[9]

Roberts was one of thirty members of the charter class of former Michigan State University Spartan athletes, coaches, and administrators inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992.[10]

In 1999, he ranked number 74 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. The Phillies have honored him with the retirement of his uniform number 36 and a statue outside the first base gate of Citizens Bank Park.

On July 21, 2003, Roberts returned to Montpelier, Vermont to accept two honors: The Vermont Mountaineers retired his number from his playing days with the Barre-Montpelier Twin City Trojans, and Governor Jim Douglas presented him a proclamation that made the day "Robin Roberts Day" in the State of Vermont.[4]

In Roberts' home town of Springfield, Illinois, Robin Roberts Stadium is named for the former ballplayer.

Career statistics

  • 7-time All-Star (1950–56)
  • 5-time Top 10 MVP (1950, 1952–55)
  • 6-time won 20 or more games (1950–55)
  • 4-time led league in won games (1952–55)
  • Twice led the league in strikeouts (1953–54)
  • Led league in shutouts (1950)
  • 6-time led the league in games started (1950–55)
  • 5-time led league in complete games (1952–56)
  • 5-time led league in innings pitched (1951–55)
  • 6-time pitched over 300 innings (1950–55)
  • Ranks #27 on the all-time wins leaderboard
  • Holds the record for most home runs allowed by a pitcher, with 505
  • Holds five Philadelphia Phillies team records as of 2008: most complete games pitched, most games pitched, most innings pitched, most hits allowed, and most losses

Career as author

Roberts has written two books about his baseball experiences: The Whiz Kids and the 1950 Pennant (1996, ISBN 156639466X)[11], and My Life In Baseball (2003, ISBN 1572435038), both with C. Paul Rogers, III, a law professor at Southern Methodist University.

Further reading

  • Baseball A Doubleheader Collection of Facts, Feats, & Firsts. St. Louis, Mo.: The Sporting News Publishing Co.. 1992. ISBN 0-88365-785-6. 

References

  1. ^ [http://www.educ.msu.edu/neweducator/Fall02/roberts.htm "A Man for All Seasons -- MSU Great and Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts Remembers His Alma Matter and Playing Days"]. New Educator. Fall 2002. http://www.educ.msu.edu/neweducator/Fall02/roberts.htm. 
  2. ^ a b A Man for All Seasons, a Fall 2002 New Educator article from a Michigan State University website
  3. ^ "Spartan Records". Michigan State Men's Basketball. 2009-2010. http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/msu/sports/m-baskbl/auto_pdf/0910MBBRecords.pdf. 
  4. ^ a b Robin Roberts, Twin City Trojans 1946–1947 from the Vermont Mountaineers website
  5. ^ Robets career stats
  6. ^ "Roberts is 'Retired'". St. Petersburg Times: p. 3-C. 1962-02-07. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fiQMAAAAIBAJ&sjid=e1IDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5915,3321691&dq=phillies+uniform&hl=en. 
  7. ^ John Drebinger (1962-03-22). "Yanks' Two Homers Help Beat Phils, 13–10; Mets 1-0 Victors Over Tigers". New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F50811F6385C137A93C0AB1788D85F468685F9. 
  8. ^ "Robin Roberts Beaten, 1-0, In First Start With Reading". New York Times. 1967-04-26. p. 54. http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F10B17FC3B5F1A718DDDAF0A94DC405B878AF1D3. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  9. ^ Robin Roberts at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum website
  10. ^ "MSU Athletics Hall of Fame". Michigan State Official Athletics Site. http://www.msuspartans.com/trads/hall-of-fame.html. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  11. ^ The Whiz Kids and the 1950 Pennant from the Temple University Press website

External links

Preceded by
Warren Spahn
National League Strikeout Champion
1953-1954
Succeeded by
Sam Jones
Preceded by
Larry Jansen & Sal Maglie
National League Wins Champion
1952-1955
(1953 with Warren Spahn)
Succeeded by
Don Newcombe
Preceded by
Warren Spahn
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
1962
Succeeded by
Bobby Richardson
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