|Hall of Famer Robin Roberts was born in Springfield, Illinois on September 30, 1926. He was the son of a coal miner and at an early age excelled in several sports. He was offered a scholarship from Michigan State, but spent 1944 and 1945 in the military when World War II started. After being discharged he enrolled at Michigan St., started pitching for the school's baseball team, and at 6' 190lbs was a star basketball player. Robin Roberts hurled two no-hitters for the Big Ten college, including one against arch-rival Michigan. |
During the summer months he pitched for a semi-pro team in Montpelier, Vermont, a league consisting mainly of college players who wanted to attract the attention of major league scouts. Within two years, Robin Roberts with his exploding fastball, was pursued by six major league teams.
The Philadelphis Phillies and the Boston Braves were the two highest bidders and even though the Braves won the National League pennant in 1948 and the Phillies were one of baseball's most consistently bad team, Roberts signed with Philadelphia. They had not won a pennant since 1915 and had seldom ended in the first division, but offered Roberts a $25,000 signing bonus. This was a considerable sum of money at the time, more than but the best of major leaguers were paid in a season.
Phillies' President Robert M. Carpenter, Jr. had been slowly building a strong farm system consisting mainly of college stars since the end of the war and Robin Roberts fit right in with these budding stars.
In his' first season in 1949, Roberts was 15-15 and helped the team move up to third place in the National League. (during this era there were only 8 teams in the NL). The team was called 'the Whiz Kids' because of the many college bonus babies that Pres. Carpenter had been signing.
The Phillies jumped out to a fast start in 1950 and won the National League's pennant. Robin Roberts paced the team's starting pitchers and won 20 games, including a complete game, 2-1 - 10 inning win over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the final game of the season; both clubs were tied for first place before the game. It was the first pennant the Philadelphia Phillies won in 35 years and Roberts was their first 20-game winner since 1917.
Starting in 1950, Robin Roberts posted six consecutive 20-win seasons, including a 28-7 record in 1952. He won 286 lifetime games.
Robin Roberts developed a pitching wind up that he carried out with every pitch. He would hitch his belt, pull on his left pants leg, tug his cap, wipe his forehead and then go into an easy windup, and - flash - his fastball was across home plate. His slow moving routine was mesmerizing in itself and made his fastball seem that much quicker and harder to hit. Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst said it best when he once described Roberts' fastball delivery and his' pinpoint control, "The ball seemed to skid across the strike zone as though it were on a piece of ice." Baseballhistorian.com Archives
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