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Friday, January 09, 2009

Former MLB pitcher Dave Roberts dies of cancer

David Arthur Roberts, a left-handed pitcher who played for eight Major League teams including the 1979 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates, has died of lung cancer. He was 64.

Roberts’ wife Carol and stepdaughter Kristy Rogan say he died at his home in Short Gap early Friday morning.

They say he developed lung cancer from asbestos exposure as a young man. During the off seasons, he worked as a boilermaker and was regularly exposed to the cancer-causing material.

Roberts had a 12-year career in Major League Baseball, beginning in 1969 with the San Diego Padres and ending in 1981 with the New York Mets.

In between, he played with the Pirates, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and the Seattle Mariners.

Repoz Posted: January 09, 2009 at 05:18 PM | 63 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, cubs, giants, mets, obituaries, padres, pirates, tigers

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 09, 2009 at 05:44 PM (#3047552)
103 wins, 3.78 lifetime ERA, not a bad career at all. Tough luck 1971 season - 2.10 ERA (2nd in the NL) in 269 innings, but 14-17 record. That Padres team must have been god awful.* Amazingly, he still got Cy Young votes. Good for the voters.

*-yep, they were. 486 runs scored. .291 OBA. .233 team batting average. Wow.
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 09, 2009 at 05:49 PM (#3047565)
The shortstop on that Padres team was Enzo Hernandez, who played 143 games with 549 at bats - and drove in 12 runs. Twelve.
   3. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 09, 2009 at 05:57 PM (#3047574)
I thought this was the other Dave Roberts. Sympathies to David Arthur's loved ones but I was a bit relieved to hear it wasn't the current one. Because I'm an ####### like that.
   4. HowardMegdal Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:00 PM (#3047577)
I have him as the third greatest Jewish lefty starter ever. He trails only Koufax and Ken Holtzman- not bad company.

Sorry to hear about this- my condolences to his family.
   5. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:02 PM (#3047580)
I thought this was the other Dave Roberts. Sympathies to David Arthur's loved ones but I was a bit relieved to hear it wasn't the current one. Because I'm an ####### like that.

I misread it as the current Dave Roberts as well--and for a brief moment was excited by the prospect of the Giants not having to pay him $6.5M in 2009...

Yes, I'm going straight to hell.
   6. asinwreck Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:18 PM (#3047591)
I initially thought it was this Dave Roberts -- who also played for the Padres, and who (when I made up teams of the baseball cards I collected in the 70s) I paired up with the late Dave Roberts as an All Dave Roberts Battery.

Asbestos-related cancer is an awful way to go; I feel for his family and feel compelled to link to this organization.
   7. Lassus Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:31 PM (#3047601)
The shortstop on that Padres team was Enzo Hernandez, who played 143 games with 549 at bats - and drove in 12 runs. Twelve.

That seems really awful, but I wonder if there haven't been a lot of 500-AB seasons with that few RBI?
   8. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3047612)
I just did one of those baseball-reference.com searches and set it for any player from 1901-2008 who had 502 plate appearances.

The lowest # of RBI by anyone fitting the search terms?

Enzo Hernandez, 1971 Padres.
   9. billyjack Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:42 PM (#3047617)
#4: I have Koosman second on my list, then Holtzman, then Roberts...
   10. Swedish Chef Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:45 PM (#3047619)
Cancer, shootings, steroids and Giambi. This site desperately needs a light entertainment thread!

Cancer is awful, here's to peacefully dying in your sleep at 82 or so.
   11. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:47 PM (#3047622)
IIRC Luis Castillo had a season with the Marlins when he was on pace at the ASB to "break" that record, but then he got "hot" and finished with <20 RBIs.

Looking it up on BBRef... yep, in 2000 he had 4 RBI in the 1st half (260 AB), but was off to the races in the 2nd half with 13 RBI (279 AB).
   12. Steve Treder Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3047623)
#4: I have Koosman second on my list, then Holtzman, then Roberts...

I'd always presumed Koosman was Jewish, but then someone on this site told me he wasn't.
   13. RJ in TO Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3047624)
here's to peacefully dying in your sleep at 82 or so.


Provided, of course, that you're not behind the wheel of a car at the time.
   14. asinwreck Posted: January 09, 2009 at 06:57 PM (#3047647)
I'll go with Walter Matthau's preferred method: Shot to death at the age of 109 by a jealous husband.
   15. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: January 09, 2009 at 07:04 PM (#3047654)
Yes, I want to die in my sleep like my brother, not screaming in terror like his passengers.
   16. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 09, 2009 at 07:23 PM (#3047685)
I misread it as the current Dave Roberts as well--and for a brief moment was excited by the prospect of the Giants not having to pay him $6.5M in 2009...

Would they still have to pay that money? I mean, is it still a guaranteed contract, even in the event of a player's death? What happened to the rest of (for instance), Darryl Kyle's contract? I'm sure this seems like an insensitive subject considering the circumstance but now I'm honestly curious.
   17. RJ in TO Posted: January 09, 2009 at 07:27 PM (#3047693)
What happened to the rest of (for instance), Darryl Kyle's contract?


In Kile's case, I believe that St. Louis paid out the remainder of his contract to his family. I'm not sure if that was St. Louis just being thoughtful (or PR-aware), or if it's actually required as a term of the contract. I'm guessing it's the former.
   18. Swedish Chef Posted: January 09, 2009 at 07:30 PM (#3047700)
Would they still have to pay that money? I mean, is it still a guaranteed contract, even in the event of a player's death?

I'm sure a dead player is in violation of more than a few of his obligations under the contract.
   19. flournoy Posted: January 09, 2009 at 07:31 PM (#3047701)
My guess is the former as well. After all, by dying, the player failed to live up to his end of the contracted agreement, as insensitive as it sounds.
   20. The Most Interesting Man In The World Posted: January 09, 2009 at 07:32 PM (#3047706)
I honestly had no idea this Roberts ever played for the Giants. I wonder how AT&T;ran his name last year (they would run an alphabetical list of everyone who had played in SF)... did they just list Dave Roberts twice?
   21. Benji Posted: January 09, 2009 at 07:46 PM (#3047728)
Roberts had an awesome 1971 season and I remember looking forward to his matchups with Tom Seaver that year. And, thanks to Retrosheet, I found them. Roberts beat the offensive juggernaut 1-0 in 12 innings, then Tom Terrific beat him 2-1 on a Cleon Jones walkoff. We didn't have cable yet so we had to rely on Lindsey, Ralph and Murph to describe the duels.

RIP, Dave.
   22. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 09, 2009 at 07:58 PM (#3047756)
Would they still have to pay that money? I mean, is it still a guaranteed contract, even in the event of a player's death?

If a player dies, then the contract is null and void. Depending on the circumstances, the player's survivors are entitled to certain pension and death benefits, but are otherwise SOL.

The Cards were under no legal obligation to pay Kile's wife the balance owed on his contract.
   23. Steve Treder Posted: January 09, 2009 at 08:08 PM (#3047771)
The Cards were under no legal obligation to pay Kile's wife the balance owed on his contract.

Could they write it off as a charitable donation?
   24. HowardMegdal Posted: January 09, 2009 at 08:14 PM (#3047783)
#4: I have Koosman second on my list, then Holtzman, then Roberts...

Man, I wish Koosman was a member of the tribe. I'd have loved writing that entry.
   25. jwb Posted: January 09, 2009 at 08:15 PM (#3047786)
ARTICLE IX—Termination Pay
C. In-Season
A Player whose Contract is terminated by a Club during the championship
season under paragraph 7(b)(2) of the Uniform Player’s Contract
for failure to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability shall be
entitled to receive termination pay from the Club in an amount equal
to the unpaid balance of the full salary stipulated in paragraph 2 of his
Contract for that season.
It would seem that Darryl Kile's family would be owed the remainder of his salary for the season under the "failure to exhibit sufficient skill" clause. No jokes about pining for the fjords, please.
   26. RJ in TO Posted: January 09, 2009 at 08:17 PM (#3047787)
Could they write it off as a charitable donation?


Seeing as how Kile's wife wasn't a registered charity, probably not.
   27. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 09, 2009 at 08:40 PM (#3047813)
I think it depends a lot on the class of the player and the owner involved. In Kile's case, he was beloved by his teammates and DeWitt is by and large a class act.

On the other hand, if Albert Belle had passed away, Angelos would have cut off his estate immediately.

And had Manny Ramirez passed away while still with the Red Sox, not only would Boston have withheld the balance of his paychecks, they would have seen to it that his body was wrapped in his soiled hand towels.
   28. wjones Posted: January 09, 2009 at 08:50 PM (#3047831)
No one has mentioned this yet, but yet another Astros pitcher from the 70's/80's has died.
   29. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 09, 2009 at 08:54 PM (#3047837)
Quien es?
   30. Cuban X Senators Posted: January 09, 2009 at 10:10 PM (#3047918)
I wonder what it says about a pitcher that he'd chose to live out his years in a place called Short Gap.
   31. Mike Green Posted: January 09, 2009 at 10:34 PM (#3047947)
"They say he developed lung cancer from asbestos exposure as a young man. During the off seasons, he worked as a boilermaker and was regularly exposed to the cancer-causing material."

Times were different not so long ago. Roberts was signed in 1963 at age 18 and was a fine prospect at age 20 in 1965, reaching double A and succeeding there. It did take a while for him to make it to the Show. And working as a boilermaker in the off-seasons.
   32. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 09, 2009 at 10:52 PM (#3047965)
I don't know if this is a record for one name, but there have been four Dave Roberts who have played MLB. There's the catcher-third baseman referenced above, the Panamanian Dave Roberts who played first base in the sixties, the current Dave Roberts, and the left-hander who just passed away.

Roberts was a pretty effective pitcher, good breaking ball pitcher, but not a very hard thrower. He never had more than 135 strikeouts in a season. I don't remember him that well from the '79 Pirates, but a check of his numbers show that he was very effective for them out of the bullpen that year. He was a throw-in in the Bill Madlock deal the Bucs made with the Giants in the middle of that season.

That entire Pirate bullpen was outstanding in '79. Their top five relievers all had ERA's under 3.00: Roberts and Grant Jackson from the left side, Enrique Romo and Jim Bibby from the right side, with Tekulve closing. They were some strange looking guys, too. Roberts had a scraggly beard, Romo was hairy and overweight, and Tekulve was so thin that he looked sickly. But they could pitch.
   33. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:07 AM (#3048057)
I don't know if this is a record for one name,


There's an interesting subject for research. (I can't imagine 4 would be a record, though. I mean, there were 2 Steve Ontiveroses ... Ontiverii? ... at the same time, no?)

I know the NBA has had, what, about 73 Dee Browns ...
   34. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:12 AM (#3048060)
Also, I came up with 4 Pat Kellys just now.

(No, that's not a euphemism for anything. I don't think.)
   35. Steve Treder Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:16 AM (#3048062)
There's an interesting subject for research. (I can't imagine 4 would be a record, though. I mean, there were 2 Steve Ontiveroses ... Ontiverii? ... at the same time, no?)

Not at the same time. But not all that far apart.

I agree that it's the unusual name coincidences that are more fun than the Dave Robertses, Bobby Browns, Joe Morgans, Dave Smiths etc.

There were two Bob Sadowskis. At the same time.

There were two Don Lepperts, at almost the same time.

There was a Scott Service, and a Scott Servais.

I mean this is interesting stuff.
   36. Swedish Chef Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:18 AM (#3048065)
No Smiths come in more than four, sadly neither Pop-Boy Smith nor Skyrocket Smith are shared.
   37. Steve Treder Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:24 AM (#3048071)
There's five Bob Johnsons, I believe.
   38. Steve Treder Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:24 AM (#3048072)
Nope, only four Bob Johnsons. My bad.
   39. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:27 AM (#3048077)
Three Hal Smiths & 4 Harry Smiths, looks like. Or maybe vice-versa.

Also, I seem to have misread BBRef earlier; looks like one of the 4 Pat Kellys was a career minor leaguer.
   40. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:29 AM (#3048078)
Not at the same time.


Crap. You're right.

By god, though, I know that Brian Hunter & Brian Hunter had more or less concurrent careers.

I'm pretty sure Bobby Jones & Bobby Jones were pitching around the same time, too.

Possibly Bob Miller & Bob Miller as well.
   41. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:30 AM (#3048080)
I wonder if those last two were ever caught by Hal Smith &/or Hal Smith?
   42. Steve Treder Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:32 AM (#3048081)
I'm pretty sure Bobby Jones & Bobby Jones were pitching around the same time, too.

I distinctly remember the day in 2000 (?) when the Mets put pitcher Bobby Jones on the DL (or maybe sent him to the minors) and activated, of course, pitcher Bobby Jones.

Possibly Bob Miller & Bob Miller as well.

Uh, yeah. Teammates with the '62 Mets. Though conveniently, for reasons known only to him, Casey Stengel resolved the confusion by routinely calling one of the Bob Millers "Nelson."
   43. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:34 AM (#3048082)
It would've been even better if Stengel had alternated which Miller he called "Nelson." Of course, maybe he did. Who would've known, anyway?
   44. Steve Treder Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:35 AM (#3048083)
I wonder if those last two were ever caught by Hal Smith &/or Hal Smith?

Bob L. Miller and Hal R. Smith were teammates with the Cardinals for several years, so it's a certainty that they were batterymates, probably many times.
   45. Steve Treder Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:37 AM (#3048085)
Greg Harris and Greg Harris were never teammates, were they?
   46. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:43 AM (#3048089)
Casey Stengel resolved the confusion by routinely calling one of the Bob Millers "Nelson."

luckily, there was only one Chris Canzoneri
   47. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: January 10, 2009 at 12:48 AM (#3048093)
I distinctly remember the day in 2000 (?) when the Mets put pitcher Bobby Jones on the DL (or maybe sent him to the minors) and activated, of course, pitcher Bobby Jones.

I went to a game in '01 (I think) where both pitched for the Padres.
   48. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 10, 2009 at 01:03 AM (#3048102)
If we're lucky, the Phillies could have both Bazardo and Bastardo pitch in a game this year.

In 2006 they had both the bad Alex Gonzalez (TBAG) and the good Abraham Nuñez. For all the good it did, they should have just hired both Abraham Nuñezes or both Alex Gonzalezes, or all four, to give Jayson Stark something to write about.
   49. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 10, 2009 at 01:08 AM (#3048106)
Matt Whisenant and Matt Whiteside were both on the 2000 Padres, and were used in the same game four times. Of course that was the year the Padres used 29 different pitchers. Sadly, neither Bobby Jones nor Bobby Jones was on the team at the time.
   50. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 10, 2009 at 01:22 AM (#3048114)
I don't know if this is a record for one name, but there have been four Dave Roberts who have played MLB. There's the catcher-third baseman referenced above, the Panamanian Dave Roberts who played first base in the sixties, the current Dave Roberts, and the left-hander who just passed away.

"Good night, Roberts. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."
   51. Steve Treder Posted: January 10, 2009 at 01:22 AM (#3048116)
I remember in the 1980s the (first) time that Teufel batted against Gott, and everyone yuk-yukked about it.
   52. The Most Interesting Man In The World Posted: January 10, 2009 at 01:28 AM (#3048121)
Music-wise, the most unusual title to come up more than once (and not have one being a remake of the other) would be "It Never Rains In Southern California", done by Albert Hammond and Tony! Toni! Tone!
   53. The Most Interesting Man In The World Posted: January 10, 2009 at 01:29 AM (#3048122)
The Bobby Jones situation could have been simplified by referring to each by their first two initials.
   54. a bebop a rebop Posted: January 10, 2009 at 02:30 AM (#3048140)

I remember in the 1980s the (first) time that Teufel batted against Gott, and everyone yuk-yukked about it.


I don't get it.

EDIT: nevermind, figured it out :)
   55. Boileryard Posted: January 10, 2009 at 02:46 AM (#3048148)
I'm surprised the Jeff D'Amico duo hasn't been mentioned yet.

Back in 1994, the Braves dropped Greg Olson and brought in Gregg Olson.
   56. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: January 10, 2009 at 02:50 AM (#3048149)
   57. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 10, 2009 at 03:10 AM (#3048158)
All three of the Hal Smiths played for Pittsburgh, as did one of the Harry Smiths.

Hal R. Smith was forced to retire in 1961 due to a heart condition. In 1965, he was coaching for the Pirates under Harry Walker when all three regular catchers - Jim Pagliaroni, Del Crandall, and Ozzie Virgil - were hurt. Smith volunteered to go on the active roster, started one game and subbed in three others, and then returned to the coaching lines for good.

-- MWE

EDIT: And the Pirates kept all three of the injured catchers active, too; Jose Pagan was sent down to make room for Smith. I wonder if any team since has had four catchers on the active roster at the same time before September 1.
   58. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2009 at 04:36 AM (#3048177)
Who would Pagan have pulled for in the Teufel vs. Gott faceoff?
   59. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 10, 2009 at 04:52 AM (#3048184)
That depends. Who was it? Angel Pagan? Jesus Pagan? Some other Pagan?
   60. BreakOut Posted: January 10, 2009 at 05:15 AM (#3048192)
'79 Pirates, down 3-1 in WS. I just had that feeling they were going to pull it off. Seem to remember Blyleven as the hinge that thing turned on.
   61. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: January 10, 2009 at 05:52 AM (#3048206)
Greg Harris and Greg Harris were never teammates, were they?


Actually Greg Harris (L) and Greg Harris (R) were not only teammates, they were the same guy!
   62. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 10, 2009 at 05:54 AM (#3048207)
Picking up on Steve's Stengel reference, the story I heard is that Casey once called down to the bullpen and asked the bullpen coach to get both "Nelson" and "Lindsey" up. At first, the bullpen coach had no idea what Stengel was talking about since there was no one on the roster named either Nelson or Lindsey. Well, "Nelson" meant one of the Bob Millers; "Lindsey" referred to the other Bob Miller.

Later on, someone figured out that Stengel had seen one of the Bob Millers talking to Lindsey Nelson, the Mets' broadcaster, during pregame workouts. So naturally, in Stengel's mind, one of the Millers became Lindsey and the other became Nelson. Makes perfect sense, right?
   63. Tortuga Posted: January 13, 2009 at 06:50 AM (#3050369)
Dave Roberts was my uncle. This is my first visit to this site. I found it interesting to hear people talking about him being Jewish. I always knew him to be a Christian and in fact he even baptized me as a child. Yes, he's also my Godfather. I just called my dad a few minutes ago and found out that Dave's father was Jewish. I could be wrong, but I always thought according to Jewish law your mother had to be Jewish. I just looked on a website that lists Jewish athletes and he is on it. His religion is also listed as Judaism. I know the religion listing is wrong. He and my aunt were very involved in their church when I was a kid and to my knowledge he was a Christian most of his adult life. I personally would never consider him Jewish. Not that it really matters.

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