Showing posts with label Johnny Sain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Johnny Sain. Show all posts

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Robin Roberts and his strange journey with the New York Yankees

They say famous celebrity deaths come in groups of three, and with the passing of Hall of Famer Robin Roberts today, and legendary Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell earlier this week, one has to wonder which legend is next. Roberts was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976 after a stellar career with the Phillies, Orioles, Astros, and Cubs that spanned from 1948-1966. He died Thursday, May 6, 2010, in his home in Temple Terrace, Florida of natural causes. He was 83.

One of the teams that are not listed on his plaque at the Hall of Fame is the New York Yankees. Roberts was signed by the Yankees in the fall of 1961 to add depth to their pitching roster for the 1962 season. Some were apprehensive about the signing, pointing to Roberts' 1-10 record the previous season with Philadelphia. Many in baseball began to write off Roberts as damaged goods. Speaking with the New York Times, Roberts attempted to silence the critics.

"There was nothing wrong with my arm or shoulder. Let's say my failure was due to my lack of stuff," Roberts said on January 19, 1962. "However, I believe I'll be able to pitch for the Yankees. I anticipate being able to pitch well and hope to be a starting pitcher for Ralph Houk."

At the beginning of spring training, pitching coach Johnny Sain remarked about Roberts' ability to bolster the Yankees staff.

"I think the big fellow will help us, and everyone I've talked to from the National League tells me he still can be a fine pitcher with a good club behind him," Sain said in a February 20, 1962, New York Times article.

Two months later, Roberts was gone. An Associated Press report from April 20, 1962, cited Roberts' release from the Yankees without making an appearance for the club in a major league game. In five exhibition games, he pitched 11 innings, allowing 15 hits and eight runs. Manager Ralph Houk regretted that he was not able to pitch Roberts more and that Roberts needed, "every chance to get another job."

With that, the Yankees bid him adieu. A month later, Roberts signed with the Orioles and posted a 10-9 record with a 2.78 ERA. He would go on to pitch another four seasons with Baltimore and Houston before retiring after the 1966 season with the Chicago Cubs. He finished with a career record of 286 wins and 245 losses with 2357 strikeouts.