LOS ANGELES -- Dave Roberts, initially considered a long shot until dazzling management in his interview, was hired on Monday to be the next manager of the Dodgers.Roberts, whose father is an African-American former Marine and mother is a Japanese-American, becomes the first minority manager of the franchise that had
LOS ANGELES -- Dave Roberts, initially considered a long shot until dazzling management in his interview, was hired on Monday to be the next manager of the Dodgers.
Roberts, whose father is an African-American former Marine and mother is a Japanese-American, becomes the first minority manager of the franchise that had the first African-American player, Jackie Robinson. Roberts was born in Okinawa, Japan, where his father was stationed. He played at UCLA and lives in Vista, outside of San Diego.
He will be introduced during a Dodger Stadium news conference on Dec. 1.
"It's hard for me to put into words what it means to be named manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers," Roberts said. "This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. The Dodgers are the ground-breaking 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."
It was a busy weekend for the Dodgers, who also reached agreements with Cuban prospects Yusniel Diaz and Omar Estevez, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.
Roberts has never managed anywhere. He most recently was bench coach for Bud Black with the San Diego Padres, who bypassed Roberts and hired Andy Green as manager.
At 43, Roberts is the youngest Dodgers manager since 42-year-old Walt Alston was hired in 1954 (Glenn Hoffman, interim manager in 1998, was 39). He is the Dodgers' eighth manager in the past 17 years, following a 42-year run shared by Hall of Famers Alston and Tommy Lasorda.
Roberts' hiring came as a bit of a surprise after it was believed that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman preferred Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler, whom Friedman knows from their days together with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Roberts is a battler. He survived a 2010 diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma. He overcame long odds to become the starting center fielder for the Dodgers in the early 2000s.
And he etched his name into Red Sox lore in 2004 with The Steal. Entering Game 4 of the American League Championship Series with his club on the verge of elimination, Roberts pinch-ran for Kevin Millar, stole second base off Mariano Rivera and scored the tying run on Bill Mueller's single. The Red Sox won the game in the 12th inning, beat the Yankees and went on to win their first World Series since 1918.
"We're extremely excited to bring Dave Roberts on board as the next manager of the Dodgers," Friedman said. "We could not have been more impressed with him through this process. His energy is infectious and he has the rare ability to make a genuine connection with every person he comes across. He has developed strong leadership qualities and accumulated a breadth of baseball experience over his career as both a player and coach. He is a "baseball man" and "people person" in the truest sense of those words. We feel fully confident that he will effectively lead our team in pursuit of its ultimate goal -- bringing a world championship back to the city of Los Angeles."
A graduate of UCLA and a disciple of Dodgers basestealing legend Maury Wills, Roberts was drafted in the 28th round by Detroit in 1994, was traded to Cleveland in 1998 and was acquired by the Dodgers in a December 2001 trade for Minor Leaguers Christian Bridenbaugh and Nial Hughes that went completely under the radar.
But Roberts impressed manager Jim Tracy with his offseason workout routine and he won the starting center-field job in Spring Training after spending most of the previous eight years in the Minor Leagues. He played three years for the Dodgers, then for the Red Sox, Padres and Giants before retiring in 2009. From his first full season in 2002 to his last full season in 2007, he ranked fourth among all Major League players with 226 stolen bases.
Following his playing career, Roberts served as an analyst for the New England Sports Network in 2009 before joining the Padres front office in 2010.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.