Roberts piles up strikes with pitching wedge now


May 19, 1994|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Sun Staff Writer

Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts figures that he can still manage a quality start: 12 good holes and no middle relief in sight.

That's fine for the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club north of Tampa, Fla., a somewhat hilly par-72 where Roberts can usually be found when he's not on the road making appearances for corporations or baseball card shows.

Roberts, 67, who retired from major-league baseball after 19 years in 1966, has been living in Florida since 1977. After working in investments in Philadelphia for 11 years, Roberts decided to re-enter baseball as the coach for the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Among his charges during his eight years as coach were Orioles utility infielder Tim Hulett, Oakland Athletics backup catcher Scott Hemond and former pitcher Chris Welsh.

In the case of Hulett and Hemond, Roberts says, "it was obvious they had major-league talent. . . . Tim was a solid hitter, good hands. Just a fine ballplayer."

Watching young players grow up suited him, he says. It's how he xTC remembers spending his last years in the majors. He was Jim Palmer's first roommate in 1965 and was with the team to witness the arrivals of Paul Blair and Dave McNally and the flowering of Boog Powell's power hitting.

"I probably enjoyed watching them as much as anything," says Roberts, who spent 3 2/3 seasons with the Orioles between 1962 and 1965, compiling a win-loss record of 42-36.

Roberts' best years were with the Philadelphia Phillies, where in half

his 14 seasons he won 19 games or more, including a stretch of six consecutive seasons with 20 or more victories. But he did hit a career milestone of 2,000 strikeouts while pitching for the Orioles.

He became the 15th man in major-league history to reach the mark on May 19, 1963, by striking out Chicago White Sox pitcher Juan Pizarro at Memorial Stadium. That was 10 years before the designated hitter, and Roberts hastens to note that Pizarro -- who compiled a .202 lifetime batting average and hit .275 in his best season -- "was a good hitter."

Roberts wasn't aware he had struck out 2,000 until the umpires stopped the game. He didn't get the ball.

"Maybe they gave it to Pizarro," says Roberts, whose 2,357 lifetime strikeouts rank him 26th all-time, behind Sandy Koufax with 2,396.

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