UPDATE: Statement by former MLBPA executive director Marvin Miller added
Robin Roberts, the Hall of Fame pitcher and part of the “Whiz Kids” 1950 NL Pennant winning Phillies has died of natural causes at the age of 83. He died at his home in Temple Terrace, Fla.
Roberts pitched 19 seasons in the Major Leagues, with all but three being with the Phillies. He spent 1962-65 with the Orioles. He had a .539 winning percentage, averaging a 3.41 ERA and 1.170 WHIP over his career. He was first in league in wins for four consecutive seasons from 1952-55, and put together a staggering 6 consecutive 20-win seasons from 1950-55, leading the league in wins from ’52-’55.
To say he was a work horse would be an understatement. He lead the league in innings pitched for five consecutive seasons from 1951-55 with a career high 346.7 IP in 1953.
It took him four tries before gaining entry into the Hall of Fame garnering 56.1% of the vote on his first ballot in 1973 followed by 61.4% in ’74, 72.7% in ’75, and finally 86.9% of the vote in ’76 to gain inclusion into Cooperstown.
He was also a key figure in assisting the players in gaining power over the owners in the 1960s. It was Roberts who approached a Pittsburgh Steel Union leader in Marvin Miller, who eventually become the first executive director of the MLB Players Association. In a little known sidebar, Roberts suggested to Miller before the MLBPA had a general counsel that Richard Nixon might make a good candidate, although Miller was never a fan of Nixon. Miller would later select Dick Moss.
Miller said in a statement through the MLBPA, “I am very saddened to hear the news of Robin’s death this morning. As most baseball fans know, he was one of the greatest pitchers of all time. I consider his 286 career victories a remarkable achievement for a pitcher who spent the majority of his career with a club that was always at or near the bottom of the standings. He was the driving force behind a number of players looking to turn a company union run by the owners into a legitimate organization that served the interests of the players and the game, and he was very instrumental in promoting my candidacy as the first executive director. I will miss him.”
MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner said in a statement, “On behalf of the members and staff of the Major League Baseball Players Association, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Robin Roberts. Known as one of the greatest pitchers of his era, Robin’s legacy extends far beyond the diamond. Robin played an important role in establishing the Major League Baseball Players Association as a bona fide labor organization, by helping the players of his day understand the benefits to be gained by standing together as one. Robin and his peers had the foresight to hire Marvin Miller as the MLBPA’s first executive director in 1966, a decision that has since benefitted all Major Leaguers and their families.”
Commissioner Selig released a statement saying, “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am deeply saddened by the loss of Robin Roberts. Robin was one of the most consistent, competitive and durable pitchers of his generation and a symbol of the Whiz Kids, who in 1950 brought Philadelphia its first National League pennant in 35 years. Robin won 20 games or more six straight years, led the N.L. in complete games five years in a row and did not miss a start throughout the 1950s.
“Robin truly loved baseball and always had its best interests at heart. We will miss him and I extend my deepest sympathy to all of his family, including his four sons, his brother and his seven grandchildren, and his friends and fans everywhere.”
According to The AP, Roberts is survived by four sons, one brother, seven grandchildren and one great-grandson, the Phillies said. His wife, Mary, died five years ago, the Phillies said.
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