Dave Roberts

July 17, 2007

Here is the third best of the four major leaguers named Dave Roberts, but the only Dave Roberts he rates higher than was the first Dave Roberts, so a case could be made that this man here is the least of all the Dave Robertses. There was also a guy named Dave Roberts who went to high school with some friends of mine and lurked years later on the fringes of our weekend descents into drunkenness at the International Bar on 7th Street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan. He seemed to show up out of nowhere late in the night and seemed edgy and slightly unhinged. For a while he was spotted all over the city, taking his place among other alcohol-related spectres such as The Guy Who Materialized Out of the Mists of Shea and The Pittsburgh Steelers Guy and The Raiders of the Lost Arc Guy. Where have they all gone? Where have I gone, for that matter? 

Most recently I have gone to Holland for two weeks, and today because of a nasty trip-ending cold I’m deep in a jet lag/Nyquil haze. Maybe I’ll tell some Holland stories soon, but then again I usually can only write about things so far in the past as to be almost completely gone. I wish I could say more about this Dave Roberts, too, but I’m too foggy. But anyway here he is in a Blue Jays uniform. He was among the first players ever acquired by the Blue Jays, but he never played for them. They picked him up and then returned him from whence he came (the Padres). I wonder if they’d been expecting a different Dave Roberts.


  1. 1.  Welcome back. If I had a nickel for every Holland returnee that claimed the haze was jet lag/cold remedy induced…. 😉

    From Sunday/yesterday’s “The Griddle”

    3. El Lay Dave 2007-07-16 00:30:40
    Dave Roberts vs. Dave Roberts: 4-23, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 GIDP

    Coincidence? Serendipity?

  2. 2.  http://www.kithfan.org/work/transcripts/one/davesino.html

    Bruce: [Spoken] Hi, I’m Bruce McCulloch. I’d like to tell you about the Daves I know.
    [Singing: ]
    These are the Daves I know, I know
    These are the Daves I know
    These are the Daves I know, I know
    These are the Daves I know

    David Hoffman
    He works in my dad’s store
    He’s worked here for 12 years
    He’ll probably work here for more

    These are the Daves I know, I know
    These are the Daves I know
    These are the Daves I know, I know
    These are the Daves I know

    Dave Gort
    I’ve known since I was six
    In grade eight he broke his leg
    So we got drunk and sick

    (There’s more …)

  3. 3.  Dave Roberts is truly a fascinating story — consider the following:

    1) He was a number one draft pick of the Padres in 1972 out of the University of Oregon. He played in only 22 minor league games before the Padres brought him to the majors later that year.

    2) He never played for the Blue Jays — the Padres sold him to the Blue Jays in October 1976 and then the Blue Jays traded him back to the Padres in February 1997.

    3) In 1980 he was one of the most coveted free agents in baseball as he was drafted by 13 clubs, eventually signing with the Astros for $1.1 million over five years (he was so wanted since he was considered an uber-utility player who could catch and play all infield positions).

    4) While playing with Houston he was diagnosed with a heart condition (sounds like atrial fibrillation based on the symptoms described) that first appeared when he played for Texas three years before. He had much difficulty finding the right medication that still allowed him to play with a minimum of side effects.

    5) In 1982 he was traded to the Phillies (where I remember him from) for a minor league player. He did nothing with the Phillies (or Astros for that matter) and was released in 1983 during spring training (but not due to his heart condition).

    6) He never played again in either the majors or minors (he refused a minor league assignment). To quote Bill Conlin in his Philadelphia Daily News story detailing Roberts’ release: “Roberts never figured in the club’s current plans and nobody was shopping for a $200,000 utility man coming off a .182 season.” At age of 31 his career was over.

    For all we know Dave Roberts is still lurking on the fringes of some far-off baseball field waiting like a real-life Roy Hobbs for one more chance.

  4. 4.  Welcome back, Josh.

    Jon W, that is one of the few Kids In The Hall bits that I remember. We didn’t get cable back then, but one of my sisters had friends who would send her tapes.

  5. 5.  Welcome back!

    I can only think of two other Dave Robertses — there was a journeyman lefthanded pitcher from the 70s, who might have been the first Dave Roberts you refer to, and of course stolen-base Dave Roberts. Though I’m probably missing a hugely obvious one.

  6. 6.  3: Great stuff, John. I knew he was the number 1 pick in the ’72 draft but I didn’t know he was such a hot commodity as a free agent in ’80.

    5: The other Dave Roberts was the original. I only know of him because of the almighty baseball-reference.com:


    He was from Panama. It took a long time for him to make the majors. He also had not one but two mysterious transactions in his itinerant pro career:

    “August, 1960: Sent from the Milwaukee Braves to the Kansas City Athletics in an unknown transaction. (Date given is approximate. Exact date is uncertain.)

    “Before 1961 Season: Sent from the Kansas City Athletics to the Houston Colt .45’s in an unknown transaction.”

  7. 7.  I remember the left-handed pitcher Dave Roberts. He finished second in ERA to Tom Seaver for a last place Padres team in 1971. On the same team was Nate Colbert, who you recently featured, and future Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.

  8. 8.  While you were in Holland–welcome back, by the way–I was vacationing for a week in Calais and Montpelier. I couldn’t help but think of you and some of these stories, particularly when we drove through Barre and Randolph.

    Glad you’re back…

  9. 9.  While you were in Holland I was in Nova Scotia, at a meditation retreat in a mountain bog. With no TV, internet, phone, or radio, I once found myself on the cushion wondering not particularly how the baseball season was going, but about what was being covered in Cardboard Gods. Good to see that it was Holland! Congrats on the belated honeymoon and Nyquil haze, and welcome back.

  10. 10.  Q: How many Dave Robertses didn’t at some point play for the Padres?

    A: It looks like three did, and one didn’t.

    Maybe a research question for someone like Bob: what is the record of players with the same name playing for the same team? If factored on a per-years-of-existence basis, does that make three Dave Robertses on the Padres in 39 seasons the highest ratio of players with the same name per team-years?

    Welcome back, Josh!

  11. 11.  OH thanks be to god, you’re back.

    This DR seems to be like all, ‘Heyyy, check out the Bettys’.

  12. 12.  For more on the “Raiders of the Lost Ark Guy,” see the Joe Torre essay and comments at


    I believe that the “Pittsburgh Steelers Guy” became a transvestite. Last time I saw him (at Coyote Uglys), he had traded in his cowboy hat for a pink bandana and hoop earrings. Note that this was a ways back – even before any of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies came out.

    And “The Guy who Materialized Out of the Mists at Shea” is still out there, buddy.
    Perhaps even reading this as I type…

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