Roberts beats the Chargers to Los Angeles

Dave Roberts by Marty Caswell

Dave Roberts knows all about heartache.

But he’s also keen on rebounding.

Roberts was named the Los Angeles Dodgers manager on Monday. 

But only after being passed over by the San Diego Padres for a similar opening.

Bummed, was Roberts. 

Buoyant is how you would describe him now.

Roberts, though, is well-versed in absorbing disappointment and making the most of it.

This Cardiff resident experienced it as a three-sport star at Rancho Buena Vista High school.

Back then, Roberts was a freak — we mean that in a good way.

He was the starting quarterback for RBV’s Wing-T offense.

He was the point guard on the basketball team.

He was the center fielder and batted leadoff for the baseball squad.

All as a sophomore.

“You don’t see too many guys like that,” said Steve Hargrave, his RBV baseball coach.

And nobody saw Roberts the next year on any diamond or court.

He blew out his knee in a non-contact drill before the football season. His junior year came and went without him taking a snap, shooting a shot or taking a swing.

“It was hard just to cheer on your teammates,” Roberts said. “But it would help me later on.”

Roberts concentrated on football and baseball his senior year. He was set to play football for the Air Force Academy, but changed direction one more time. Baseball was his love and there was no way he could leave it.

So along with Butch Smith, his Vista High baseball coach, they talked their way into UCLA baseball coach Gary Adams’ office. Roberts was granted walk-on status, then earned his scholarship his final three seasons.

Roberts left UCLA, far from a can’t-miss prospect. Not many of those get drafted in the 28th round.

What came next were some 10 years of riding minor-league busses. He finally made it to the Indians, and what would follow were stops in Los Angeles, Boston, San Diego and San Francisco.

In L.A., he became a pet project of coaches Maury Wills and Manny Mota. They found a willing student in Roberts.

“His ability to learn from the people around him accelerated his knowledge of the game,” said Trevor Hoffman, Roberts’ teammate in San Diego.

Of course in Boston, Roberts swiped the biggest bag in franchise history. His steal of second base in the 2004 American League playoffs fueled a Red Sox comeback which resulted in its first title since 1918.

“The baseball gods were looking after me with that one,” Roberts said.

Roberts, who enters San Diego’s Brietbard Hall of Fame in February, never slowed down. After his playing days, he worked in the Padres front office, beat back cancer, coached for five seasons with San Diego and now has returned to the Dodgers.

The organization which gave us the first African-American player in Jackie Robinson in 1947 will have its first African-American manager in 2016.

Both men displayed a passion for baseball which was second to none. Both men proved obstacles at any level can be overcome.

At 43, Roberts got a baseball dividend that few expected.

“If you honor the game,” Roberts said, “the game honors you.”

That sounds like a trailer for a movie premiere and we’re premature in that thinking. 

But Tinsletown will roll out the red carpet for this deserving baseball man.

In a city know for its actors, it gets the real deal in Dave Roberts.

 

+ Contact Jay Paris at jparis@bcaradio.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports

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