A Hard Lesson
It’s easy to forget sometimes that baseball is a business. The players in the clubhouse become friends. You find the one or two or three guys who can be counted on to lift you up, tell you the truth, deliver interesting dinner conversation, listen.
Then in a minute one of those guys is out of your life.
“A lot of guys in here came up to the major leagues just last year,” Rich Aurilia said in the clubhouse before today’s game against the Rockies. “They loved Dave Roberts. This is the first time they’re exposed to the business side of baseball. They didn’t know what to say to Dave. He was one of the clubhouse leaders. He cheered for everyone. He pulled for everybody. It was like, ‘Wow, this really happens in the game.”’
Aurilia and Winn are particularly close to Roberts. They were stunned when Roberts told them on Thursday he had been released. Aurilia, who was signed this year to a minor-league contract, said he figured he was a more likely candidate to be released than Roberts, who had a year left on his Giants contract.
“We lost not just a teammate but a really good friend,” Aurilia said. “Our kids played together. It was hard telling my kids that Cole (Roberts’ eight-year-old son) wasn’t going to be at the games anymore.
“One of the best things about coming back here to play was getting to know Dave and his family. He’s one of those guys who will be a friend long after we stop playing.”
Aurilia, Winn and a few other veteran players took Roberts out to dinner that night.
“Every player wants to go out on his own terms,” Aurilia said, “but almost nobody does.”
In a parting gesture the illustrated why everyone in the organization loved him so much, Roberts sent emails to individual people in the front office – the everyday workers the public never sees. He told them how much he appreciated their friendship and hard work and how much he’ll miss seeing them every day. Let me tell you, few pro athletes make a point of thanking people in an organization that just let them go.
For a great tribute to Dave Roberts, read MLB’s Chris Haft: http://chrishaft.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/03/an_ode_to_dave_roberts.html