The Los Angeles Dodgers organization has prided itself on being representative and inclusive of a community from all walks of life, but it was not until November of 2015 that they were led by the franchise’s first African-American manager in Dave Roberts.
“I look at my father here, my mother here and this opportunity presented itself, and I was so focused on talking through things with baseball ops and Josh (Byrnes, senior vice president of baseball operations) and Andrew (Friedman, president of baseball operations) and Farhan (Zaidi, general manager) and ownership, trying to talk about the job that honestly I didn’t realize the magnitude of this in the sense of being the first minority manager of the Dodgers,” Roberts said at his introductory press conference inside the Stadium Club at Dodger Stadium.
“I really kind of look at myself as the son of Waymon and Eiko Roberts, the husband of Tricia Roberts and I have two beautiful kids. I am who I am. I’m transparent. I am who I am. But I think that to [not] step back and realize it’s much, much bigger than me, this situation, would be completely irresponsible of me.
“I think there were a lot of people who paved the way for me to ultimately have this opportunity. It goes not just to the opportunity. It goes to the responsibility I feel as the first minority manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That isn’t taken lightly. It’s something I’m going to carry with me forever.”
As the United States faces civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd being the victim of police brutality and dying while in custody, Roberts is among those disheartened by the reminder of society’s shortcomings.
During an interview on SportsNet LA, the fifth-year manager discussed what the current climate has entailed for his family, and called on improvement from all:
“My wife, my kids, we’ve had a lot of conversations. Obviously you’re trying to stay as in tune with what’s going on, but to put eyes on that situation and how he was murdered, I just can’t get that visual out of my head; nor should we.
“One of the things for me, I was telling my kids the other day, I apologized, because my dad served our country and you look back to the ‘60s, with Martin Luther King, what Jackie did for baseball and well beyond it, and it seems like we haven’t gained any ground. Here we are as parents and as a generation that’s trying to lead the youth and have certain expectations. We can’t even get it right or make headway in the right direction. It’s just disappointing.
“So many times as we were going through this pandemic, people talked about getting back to normalcy and getting life back to normal. Normal is not good enough. Clearly, what we saw a few days ago, normal is not even close. We all got to be better. Racism is happening daily. We all got to be aware of it and do our part.”
Mookie Betts and Justin Turner are among Dodgers players who have addressed the protests and unfortunate vandalism and looting. The Dodgers included a quote from Jackie Robinson in their team statement. Several players participated in the ‘Blackout Tuesday’ social media movement.
Although Roberts has never been one to let race and ethnicity define himself or another, he is the proud son of a father who was the only African-American student in his high school and served 30 years in the Marine Corps after enlisting at the age of 18.
He was the only black student in his high school, enlisted in the military at 18 and proudly served in the Marine Corps for 30 years. Waymon passed away in March 2017, and Roberts has continued to strive toward upholding the example that was set for him.
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