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Muscle Sport Magazine

Phillies Legend Robin Roberts Remembered

Even if you have never heard of Robin Roberts, the first line on his plaque hanging in Cooperstown sums it up: ‘Tireless worker who never missed a start in [the] decade of the fifties.’ Think about that for a second and try to picture one of the overpaid and babied pitchers of the modern era not having to skip a start in 10 years. These guys can’t even go over 100 pitches without panic setting in throughout the ballpark.

The sport lost one of its true heroes on May 6 when Roberts passed away at 83 of natural causes. Over a 19-year major league career, the righthander won nearly 300 games and amazingly won 20 games in six consecutive seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies. Roberts was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

“Probably the best fastball I ever saw was Robin Roberts,” said fellow Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner. “His ball would rise about six or eight inches, with plenty on it. And he had great control, which made him very difficult to hit.”

Born on September 30, 1926 in Springfield, Illinois, the 6’1”, 200-pound Roberts had an auspicious start to being the king of the hill. “I went out for the baseball team at Michigan State,” he recalled. “They asked me, ‘Well, what do you play?’ And I said, ‘What do you need?’ And they said, ‘Pitchers.’ So I said, ‘Well, I’m a pitcher.’”

Following a brief minor league career, Roberts was signed by the Phillies in 1948 and two years later was part of a team for the ages. Coined ‘The Whiz Kids’ because a majority of the team was very young, the 1950 Phillies won the National League pennant on the last day of the regular season. Roberts, who started three games in the last five days of the season, earned his 20th win in the 10-inning affair at Ebbets Field against the favored Brooklyn Dodgers. Unfortunately the Yankees were waiting for them in the World Series.

Roberts would go on to win 20 games in each season up until 1955 and led the NL in wins in each of the last four of those years. He once pitched 28 complete games in a row and never walked more than 77 batters in a season.

After the 1961 season ended, Roberts’ contract was sold to the Yankees. He never pitched for the Bronx Bombers and they cut him loose. The Baltimore Orioles called and Roberts won 42 games in three and a half seasons for them. He concluded his career with brief stops with the Astros and Cubs before retiring in 1966.

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Why it took the Baseball Writers Association of America 10 years to vote the seven-time All-Star into the Hall of Fame is puzzling. Roberts’ career record of 286-245 also included 2,357 strikeouts, a 3.41 ERA, 305 complete games, 45 shutouts and 4,688 2/3 innings.

Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson saw many great traits in Roberts. “Robin was such a giant in baseball,” he said. “Not only was he the face of the Phillies in the 1950s, but he was among the most dominant hurlers to ever step on a pitching mound. His legacy will be his Hall of Fame career and his important role in establishing the Player’s Association, but his hallmark was the class and dignity with which he led his life.

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“Robin’s warm heart and humorous personality made him a fan favorite and there’s not a person who met him who did not become richer because of that,” added Idelson. “He was a dear friend, a frequent visitor to Cooperstown and we’ll miss him very much.”

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