It is a truly sad day in Philadelphia.
No, not because the Flyers are down 3-0 in their series against Boston. And not because some other idiot ran onto the field at a Phillies game and got tasered. That would just be funny.
It’s because former Phillie standout and Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts died Thursday at his home in Temple Terrace, Fla. He was 83.
Most of the people that read this entry are too young to have any idea who Robin Roberts was as a baseball player, let alone to see him play. Heck, my dad was born nine years after Roberts led the “Whiz Kids” to the pennant in 1950.
Let’s take a moment to put his career in perspective.
It spanned 18 years starting in 1948. His last games came as a Chicago Cub (go figure) in 1966. He was an all star seven times and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976.
Along the way he piled up 286 wins, 2,357 strikeouts, a 3.41 lifetime ERA, a remarkable 305 complete games and 45 shutouts. Consider this: During his prime in the early 50s he went over the 300 inning plateau every year from 1950-55.
Roberts is best remembered as a 23-year old star with the Whiz Kids in 1950 (which featured a young Richie Ashburn, among others) but his best year statistically came in 1952 when he went 28-7 with a 2.59 ERA and 30 complete games in 330 innings.
In short, he was a stud in a pitching era that’s gone far by the wayside.
The Associated Press story commemorating his career summed it up like this:
Best-selling author James A. Michener, who lived outside Philadelphia, once summed up Roberts’ career in The New York Times.
“For two generations of fans, he symbolized the best in athletic competition,” Michener wrote. “Day after day he went out there and threw that high, hard one down the middle, a marvelously coordinated man doing his job. If he had pitched for the Yankees he might have won 350 games.”
And with that, rest in peace Robin Roberts. You were one helluva ball player.