In Memory of Dave A. Roberts

Ex-Astro Dave Roberts dies of cancer at 64
Pitcher was with Pirates for 1979 World Series win over O's
Houston Chronicle
January 9, 2009


(c) Houston Astros

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - David Arthur Roberts, a lefthanded pitcher who played for eight Major League teams including the 1979 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates, has died of lung cancer. He was 64.

Roberts appeared in 140 games for the Astros from 1972 to 1975, starting 121 and going 47-44. His best year in Houston was 1973, when he was 17-11 with a 2.85 ERA.

"Dave was the consummate pro," Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith said. “He averaged 35 starts and 12 wins a year for the club during his four years as an Astro, but he'll really be remembered and missed for the leadership he provided and for being such a good guy. Our condolences to his family and friends."

Roberts died at his home in Short Gap, according to his wife, Carol, and stepdaughter Kristy Rogan.

Rogan said Roberts had developed lung cancer from asbestos exposure as a young man. During the off seasons, he worked as a boilermaker and was regularly exposed to the cancer-causing material.

Roberts went 103-125 with a 3.78 earned-run average in 13 seasons, beginning in 1969 with the San Diego Padres and ending in 1981 with the New York Mets. The Pirates acquired him from the San Francisco Giants in a five-player, midseason trade in 1979 that also brought Bill Madlock to Pittsburgh.

Roberts also played with the Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and the Seattle Mariners.

Born in Gallipolis, Ohio, he had lived in West Virginia for more than a decade. Short Gap is about 120 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Roberts is also survived by stepdaughter Melaney Lloyd of Short Gap and three sons, Chris Roberts of Richmond, Texas; Rick Roberts of Katy, Texas; and Kyle Roberts of Cresaptown, Md. He also had seven grandchildren.

Roberts was last hospitalized about a week ago but wanted to die at home, Rogan said.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced later Friday by Adams Family Funeral Home in Cumberland, Md.


Former Major Leaguer, Local Coach Dies
by Mike Mathews
Cumberland (MD) Times-News
January 9, 2009

CUMBERLAND - Dave Roberts, a left-handed pitcher who had played for the 1979 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates during a 13-year career in the majors and made an immediate impact as a coach at Potomac State College, died of lung cancer on Friday.

Roberts, 64, died at his home in Short Gap according to his wife, Carol, and stepdaughter Kristy Rogan.

Rogan told the Associated Press that Roberts had developed lung cancer from asbestos exposure as a young man. During the offseason, he worked as a boilermaker.

Roberts' top big-league seasons came in 1971, 1973 and 1976.

In 1971 at San Diego, Roberts went 14-17 and was runner-up to Tom Seaver in the NL in ERA at 2.10, a mark that was the fourth best in Major League Baseball.

In 1973 he was 17-11 with six shutouts and a 2.85 ERA for Houston, with his 17 victories being sixth-best in the National League.

In 1976, he was 16-17 with a 4.00 ERA with Detroit. His 18 complete games that season placed him among the top 10 in the American League, along with the likes of Mark Fidrych, Jim Palmer, Catfish Hunter, Nolan Ryan, Gaylord Perry and Luis Tiant.

A decent hitting pitcher, Roberts batted just under .200 and hit seven home runs in his 13 seasons in the big leagues.

"Dave was the consummate pro," Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith said. “He averaged 35 starts and 12 wins a year for the club during his four years as an Astro, but he'll really be remembered and missed for the leadership he provided and for being such a good guy."

The Pirates acquired Roberts from the San Francisco Giants in a five-player trade in 1979 that also sent Bill Madlock to Pittsburgh.

Roberts went 5-2 that year for the Bucs, who beat the Reds for the NL pennant and the Orioles in a seven-game World Series.

Roberts played for eight teams and had a 103-125 career record with a 3.78 ERA. His career, which began in 1969 with the Padres, ended with the Mets in 1981.

Fifteen years later Craig Rotruck, then the head coach of the national champion Potomac State College baseball team, was presented a Coach of the Year award by Roberts at the Dapper Dan Awards Dinner.

"He asked me if I could possibly use some help," Rotruck said of one of their first meetings. "He said, 'of course.'."

Roberts was an assistant coach at Potomac State from 1996-1998, making an immediate and lasting impression.

"Dave Roberts was a great person and will be very sadly missed," Rotruck said. "He was excellent with the kids. He taught all of us so much and made a big impact on our program, from recruiting to coaching."

"He was a big part of our success at Potomac State and touched a lot of kids' lives, not only on the field, but off. He left such an impression that former players stayed in touch with him, and us as a staff, long after their two years at Potomac State."

Potomac State won 30 or more games during Roberts' three seasons on the staff. During that span, six signed professional contracts and 25 others signed with four-year schools, Rotruck said. Roberts had also been a volunteer pitching coach for Steve Ujcic at Hampshire High for one season.

"We lost a great friend and coach, and the community itself has lost a top-notch person."

An avid golfer and bowler, Roberts, born in Gallipolis, Ohio, also had worked at the Allegany County Detention Center.

A funeral service has been scheduled for Jan. 17, at 11 a.m., at the Adams Family Funeral Home in Cumberland.