The L.A. Dodgers, brought back an old friend, in announcing the hiring of Dave Roberts as their 10th manager in Los Angeles history and 32nd manager all-time another big steal for Roberts. Dave Roberts becomes the Dodgers first-ever minority manager. Roberts, a former Dodgers outfielder, who has an African American father (son of retired Marine Waymon Roberts in Okinawa, Japan) and a Japanese mother, will replace Don Mattingly at the helm for the last five years. Roberts is the fourth Dodgers manager to play for the club, joining Tommy Lasorda, Bill Russell and Glen Hoffman.
The 43-year old Roberts, becomes one of only three minorities to manage in the major leagues, joining Dusty Baker (hired by the Washington Nationals this month) and Freddie Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a history of making moves with social impact for example, signing Jackie Robinson, backing Sandy Koufax decision to not start game one of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur, Fernando Valenzuela, Hideo Nomo and Hyun Jin-Ryu.
The prevailing thought by many in Los Angeles the top two notable managerial candidates Gabe Kapler as well as Dave Roberts. Some rumors had Gabe Kapler as the leader in the clubhouse. An upset? Some had concerns about Roberts’ ascension, although there is no doubt that he earned it. He may not have come up through the ranks, but Roberts’ is a Dodger through and through. Roberts played in the minors for seven years. The Dodgers got the right guy.
A few naysayers may not think so, however, after a fact check, both candidates possess similar resume’s, the big difference Roberts’ blew the Dodgers away during the interview process and his experience on the Padres coaching staff helped seal the deal. Another thought, if Gabe Kapler became the next L.A. skipper, coupled with the knowledge that Kapler a close friend of the Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, Kapler would simply be a puppet of the front office and have a hard time gaining the respect of the veteran players on the roster.
• 10 – year MLB playing career
• 2011-2015 San Diego Padres coaching staff
• 12 – year MLB playing career
• 2007: Red Sox Single-A Manager
• 2015: Dodgers Director of Player Development
The reality is either candidate would become a first time manager likewise needing to gain the respect of the veteran players in addition to everyone else on the roster. The San Diego Padres, Roberts’ former employer, chose to distance themselves from manager Bud Black and his entire coaching staff deciding to go outside of the organization for a manager and did not allow Roberts to interview for the position. Roberts did manage one game, in the interim when the Padres fired Bud Black in the middle of last season. Roberts interviewed with the Seattle Mariners manager position and came in second behind Scott Servais.
Roberts’, as a MLB player, had a 10-year career .266 Avg., 243 stolen bases, .708 OPS playing for the Cleveland Indians, L.A. Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. Roberts is best known for a stolen base in game four of the 2004 World Series that sparked a historic comeback for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees that led to the franchises’ first World Championship in 86 years.
Timeline of Notable Dodger Managers
• Leo Durocher 1939-1946, 1948 (won the 1941 NL Pennant) 1994 HOF Inductee
• Walter Alston 1954-1976 (won four World Series 1955,59,63, 65 & seven NL Pennants)
• Tommy Lasorda 1976-1996 (won two World Series 1981, 88 & four NL Pennants) 1997 HOF Inductee
Between Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda’s tenure’s the Los Angeles Dodgers had two managers for 43 years, in the 17- years since the franchise has eight including Dave Roberts. Roberts’ understanding the gravity of the situation, stating “It’s hard for me to put into words what it means being named manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Roberts.
“The Dodgers are the groundbreaking franchise of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo. “When I put on this uniform as a player, I understood the special responsibility to honor those that played before me as well as the amazing bond between the Dodgers and their fans. I feel that I have now come full circle in my career and there is plenty of unfinished business left in L.A.” Welcome back Dave Roberts, above all, as the next Dodgers manager, your task is clear, World Series or bust. This concludes the Dodgers first phase in preparations for the 2016 season.