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Dave Roberts Is Still Chasing History

Last season Dave Roberts just missed becoming the second Black manager to win a World Series and the first since Cito Gaston won back to back titles with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992-93.

Last season Dave Roberts just missed becoming the second Black manager to win a World Series and the first since Cito Gaston won back to back titles with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992-93. 

Roberts lost in seven games to the Houston Astros and World Series MVP George Springer, who killed them at the plate and with some lethal leather.   

Roberts has averaged 95 wins a season, since taking over for Don Mattingly in 2016 and will get another crack at an elusive World Series. Its a journey that started when Magic and Co. hired Roberts to lead the Dodgers over a WS hump that the illustrious franchise has failed to clear since 1988. 

profloumoore on Twitter

70years after Jackie made his debut, 45years after he ripped MLB 4 not hiring black managers, a black man is taking the Dodgers to the WS.


In 2017, Roberts became the fourth African-American manager to lead a team to the World Series, joining Gaston, Dusty Baker (2002 San Francisco Giants) and Ron Washington (2010 and 2011 Texas Rangers).


Hes also the first World Series manager of Asian heritage as his mother is Japanese-American, making him the second person of Asian descent to manage in the big leagues. Don Wakamatsu was the first when he became Seattle Mariners skipper from 2009-2010.

In 2016, Roberts and Baker engaged in the first Black Knight face off in the MLB postseason. 

Roberts would defeat Baker in the NLDS and then fall to the eventual World Series champ Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. 


 It was special, Roberts said. I tried not to get out of that isolated moment of the series or the individual game, but the moments that I did take, you would look across the field and see Dusty Baker and a person that Ive admired since I was a kid. To see what hes done, and how hes impacted not only my career but baseball, I really took moments to appreciate that and never take that for granted.

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With another 90-plus win season under his belt, Roberts embarks on his third shot at baseball supremacy as a manager. Nothing is ever easy — especially not for the African-American manager —  so after battling for 162 games, Roberts Dodgers will have to play a 163rd game to officially start their 2018 World Series run. 


Bill Plunkett on Twitter

Despite 283 wins (and counting) in 3 seasons and the franchise’s only World Series appearance in 30 years, #Dodgers mgr Dave Roberts is a lightning rod for fan criticism — and doesn’t have a contract for 2019 yet. https://t.co/iaGIipVcFT

Theres a possibility that the long, successful season could end painfully on Monday.  

Because the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers are tied atop the NL Central, and the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers are knotted in first in the NL West, both teams will play a one-game playoff for the right to be called Division champs. It will be the first time in baseball history two divisions will be determined by one-game playoffs. 

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There Roberts goes again, sniffing around for some history to immerse himself in. Roberts will have to be at his absolute best for a baseball game played with all of the excitement, stakes, pressure, and finality of a college football national championship game. 

Roberts is the lone African-American manager in the sport, which suggests that despite diversity efforts on the player level and league offices, MLB owners still have problems with hiring managers of color and entrusting them with leadership positions, — 71 years after Jackie Robinson broke the player color barrier and 43 years after Frank Robinson broke the color barrier for black managers when the Cleveland Indians named him manager in 1975. 



Dan McLaughlin on Twitter

Helmed by Frank Robinson, in his historic managerial debut. https://t.co/zQa78Zp4Bf


Robinson was the first full-time manager, but not the first brother to manage a game on an interim basis. 

Pittsburgh Clothing Co. on Twitter

This day in #PGHistory: After a Danny Murtaugh suspension, Gene Baker steps-in as interim manager for the Pirates, becoming the first African-American manager in MLB history. (1963) The former infielder would stick around with Pittsburgh for another 23 years serving as a scout.

In all, only 29 Black managers have been hired since Robinsons arrival in 1975. Since Gastons first World Series championship in 1992, just 11 black men have managed various MLB squads: Don Baylor  Dusty Baker, Jerry Manuel, Davey Lopes, Lloyd McClendon, Jerry Royster, Willie Randolph, Cecil Cooper, Ron Washington, Bo Porter, Dave Roberts.

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Its 2018, but Roberts presence as a Black manager is still a significant storyline, along with the franchises quest to bring another championship home on the 30-year anniversary of the Dodgers winning in 1988. It was the bravery of Kirk Gibson and bravado of manager Tommy Lasorda that won that chip. 


 Lasorda told Dave Roberts before Game 7 last season that, until Roberts wins a World Series,  he hasnt done a thing. 

Tommy Lasorda tells Dave Roberts he ‘hasn’t done s—‘ unless he wins World Series Game 7 | ESPN

Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda pulls current manager Dave Roberts aside before Roberts’ news conference, telling him he “hasn’t done s—” unless his team beats the Houston Astros in World Series Game 7.

Roberts handled those words of encouragement with the same class that he approaches his craft. We also know that Roberts has done his share for the future of the game and for potential minority managers as he continues to position himself to win a World Series. 

It starts with a win over the Colorado Rockies in game 163 and then a date with Ronald Acunas young Atlanta Braves brigade in the NL Division series.


JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.