Loss of a Dear Friend
The phone rang at home this morning at 8:30. It was Dan Roberts, one of four sons of Robin Roberts, calling from Florida. It was a message I didn’t want to hear, “Dad died.” Weeping took over for the two of us, the only sound for a little while.
One of the game’s greatest pitchers and one of the game’s greatest human beings has left us to join his wife, Mary, who died nearly five years ago.
Last time I saw Robbie was at a spring training game in Clearwater’s Bright House Field in March.
He loved to sit in a booth in the press box there, watch the game and talk baseball. For an 83-year-old, he had an amazing memory. The details of each story used to blow my mind.
Her loved going in the clubhouse to talk to the players.
He loved the Phillies and the city.
He loved his family.
He loved the current Phillies. He didn’t miss a game on TV. He’d often call the next day, “Did you see that play Jimmy made last night?” Or, “My man Jayson, what a great athlete.”
He loved being at the World Series the last two years. Wouldn’t leave the game until the last pitch. The ovation he would receive when he threw out the first ball told you how much the fans loved and respected him.
He loved coming to Philadelphia off and on during the season. He was more than willing to help the ballclub. He’d play golf and have dinner with suite holders or sponsors and then watch a game at Citizens Bank Park. He was going to be here June 4-5 to have dinner with some of our suite holders. He called a couple of weeks ago, “Larry, I’m coming up on June 1 for a golf tournament, will stay with young Robin and I’m available if you need me for something else.”
When I arrived at the park this morning, I walked over to his statue and held his hand. I swear I could still feel his warm heart. We placed a big wreath at the base of the statue, a large white P with a red 36 in the middle. Many fans weren’t aware as they arrived. They’d stop by the statute, see the wreath and their heads would drop.
The moment of silence before the game was touching. Seeing the 1950 pennant at half-mast really got to me.
Robbie and Jayson are both from Springfield, IL. They developed a very close bond. Then, wouldn’t you know it, Werth hit a three-run homer in the first inning. As he crossed home plate, Jayson pointed to the sky in honor of Robbie.
Down in Tampa, some of the family was watching the game. One of the grandchildren said when Jayson came to bat in the first inning, ‘He’s going to hit one for Pop.”
Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script.