this June 27, 2015, file photo, San Diego Padres
coach Dave Roberts is shown prior to a baseball game
against the Arizona Diamondbacks, in San Diego. The
Dodgers have made it official, hiring Dave Roberts
to be the first minority manager in franchise
history. The team announced his hiring Monday, Nov.
23, 2015, and plans to introduce him on Dec. 1.
LOS ANGELES — Dave
Roberts overcame long odds during his playing days in the
major leagues and survived a bout with cancer in recent
years. He had no managerial experience when he went after
the vacant Los Angeles Dodgers' job.
Fittingly, the personable
Roberts beat the odds again, impressing the front office
with his energy, enthusiasm and knowledge to become the
Dodgers' first minority manager.
Los Angeles said Monday it
plans to introduce the 43-year-old at a news conference on
"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," Roberts said in a statement. "I feel that
I have now come full circle in my career and there is
plenty of unfinished business left in LA."
He called the franchise
"groundbreaking" for having such players as
Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Maury
Wills, Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo.
Roberts' father is black
and his mother is Japanese. Roberts was born in Okinawa,
Japan, where his father served in the U.S. Marines. He
becomes the third minority manager in the majors, joining
the Washington Nationals' Dusty Baker and the Atlanta
Braves' Fredi Gonzalez.
Roberts said his hiring is
"the opportunity of a lifetime."
The widely perceived
front-runner for the job was former major leaguer Gabe
Kapler, the team's director of player development. He
played for Tampa Bay when Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers
president of baseball operations, was there.
But Roberts made an
indelible impression during the interview process.
"His energy is
infectious and he has the rare ability to make a genuine
connection with every person he comes across,"
Friedman said. "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
The Dodgers haven't
appeared in the World Series since winning the title in
Roberts served as bench
coach for San Diego during the last two seasons. Before
that, Roberts was a special assistant for the Padres'
front office in 2010 and their first base coach from
2011-13. He served as manager for one game this season
after Bud Black was fired.
"Growing up (Dave)
might have been one of those guys that other people maybe
discounted a little bit because of his size, even as an
amateur player," Black said Monday. "He had to
fight and work for everything he achieved athletically as
a young man. When he got into professional baseball, I
think being told he couldn't do something was always
Black was among several
candidates who interviewed for the Dodgers job. He
encouraged Roberts' ambitions when they were in San Diego
"I'm so excited for
him, so proud of him," Black said.
Roberts was the starting
center fielder for the Dodgers from 2002-04, hitting .262
in 302 games while stealing 118 bases, succeeding on 82
percent of his attempts. He becomes the fourth Dodgers
manager to also play for the franchise, joining Tom
Lasorda, Bill Russell and Glenn Hoffman. Roberts is the
10th manager since the team moved to Los Angeles and the
28th in franchise history.
He succeeds Don Mattingly,
who mutually parted ways with the team last month after
five years and a week later signed a deal to manage the
Miami Marlins. Mattingly led the Dodgers to three
consecutive NL West titles.
Mayor Eric Garcetti
enthusiastically endorsed Roberts while noting the
significance of his hiring.
"With Dave in the
dugout, the team not only secures a top notch baseball
mind, but it also makes history, bringing the first person
of color to this important post," Garcetti said.
"It is good to have Dave back home, ready to inspire
Angelenos on and off the field."
Third baseman Justin Turner
tweeted: "Glad to have Dave Roberts on our side!!!
Looking forward to getting out to AZ to get 2016 going
As a player, Roberts is
perhaps best known for his stolen base in the 2004 AL
playoffs that sparked the Red Sox to an elusive World
In the AL Championship
Series, Boston was three outs from being swept by the New
York Yankees. Roberts pinch-ran after Kevin Millar drew a
leadoff walk from Mariano Rivera. Roberts stole second and
scored on Bill Mueller's single.
Boston won 6-4 in 12
innings and then became the first team in major league
history to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win a postseason
series. Roberts did not play as the Red Sox swept St.
Louis for their first championship since 1918, but will
always be beloved in Boston because of that one play.
In 2010, Roberts survived a
bout with Hodgkin's lymphoma.