Tuesday, January 10, 2012

#309 - Dave Roberts

For our first double card in a while we get a beaming Dave Roberts at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. This Dave was an infielder, the other Dave Roberts, a former Padre, a pitcher. This Dave was a hot property back then. An excellent high school pitcher and infielder, Dave went to Oregon on a baseball scholarship and was the first draft pick by the Padres in '72. He went straight to San Diego where he took over third base and made the Topps Rookie team. After hitting .286 his second year, it was all upside for this guy. But how quickly things can change.

Dave Roberts was born in Oregon and went on to local baseball fame there in high school before going to Oregon in '69. He played summer ball in Alaska in '70 and '71 and hit .342 in two seasons there with 17 homers and 103 RBI's in 120 games as a shortstop. The second year he played with future Padre teammate Dave Winfield. After an All-American junior season in '72 for Oregon in which he hit .410 while playing third, he was selected number one by San Diego and immediately inserted at third. In '73 he began the season at second due to Derrell Thomas being injured and hit horribly, well under .200 by the end of May. He went down to Triple A Hawaii for some renewal, hit .375, and returned to third in San Diego in June, hitting well over .300 the rest of the way. He set what would be career highs in homers and RBI's that year before he began his slide.

In '74 Roberts had another nasty start to his season, caused partly by a back injury, but unlike '73 he never came out of it. While he spent no time in the minors that year, he did see some bench time. It was a significant decline: in 318 at bats he hit only .167 with five homers and 18 RBI's. Along the way he lost the starting third base gig to Dave Hilton. In '75 this Dave was shipped back to Triple A where he spent most of his time at second and hit .262 with 12 homers and 71 RBI's in 121 games. That got him back to San Diego where he hit .283 the last month-plus and reclaimed third base. In '76 the Padres traded for Doug Rader who took over third and Dave was back in Hawaii where his offensive numbers were a bit of a discount to those of '75. He spent most of his time in a new position, catcher, where he did a decent job defensively. In '77 he did a round trip to the Blue Jays before settling in back in San Diego as the third string catcher behind Gene Tenace and Bob Davis. '78 was split between San Diego and Hawaii and after the season he left the Padres for good with Oscar Gamble and some cash to the Rangers for Mike Hargrove, Kurt Bevacqua, and Bill Fahey.

In '79 Roberts backed up just about everywhere except pitcher, hitting .262 in only 84 at bats. The next year he got a serious bump in playing time as the number two guy at three positions - third, catcher, and short. After hitting .238 with his best homer and RBI totals since '73 - 10 and 30, respectively - he left as a free agent, signing with the Astros. After spending most of the year on the bench he was traded to the Phillies for a minor leaguer. A few games into the '83 season he was released. Dave finished with a .239 average with 49 homers and 208 RBI's. He got one pinch at bat for Houston in the '81 playoffs, striking out.

Roberts' first year after playing, 1984, he managed a team in the Royals chain but after a poor season was done. In '85 he became a scout for the Indians which he did through the middle of '87 when he was promoted to be a Cleveland coach. In '88 he became a scout for the Tigers which he continued to do through at least the late 2000s.

Topps sure likes to dig back pretty far for Dave's star bullets, don't they. I think this is the first time I have seen specific mention of a player's sophomore high school baseball season. On the Goldpanners he also played with Pete Broberg and Jim Sundberg. Dave is the second of what would be three Dave Roberts to play for the Padres. The most recent was the outfielder and current coach who looks like he has successfully fought off lymphoma.

I think this is a weird one:

1. Roberts and Al Oliver '79 to '80 Rangers;
2. Oliver and Bruce Dal Canton '68 to '70 Pirates.

1 comment:

  1. That's not Candlestick--that's the Murph in San Diego.