Farewell to Robbie

A full house was there to bid farewell to Robin Evan Roberts on Monday evening in the Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Temple Terrace, FL, just a few blocks from the Hall of Famers’ home.

Pastor Wally Meyer pointed to the right side of the sanctuary, “Robbie would sit in the last row every week, providing he arrived early enough.

“We all know he had 305 complete games.   I once told him, I had more complete services than 305.  He laughed and said, ‘Yes, but you didn’t have umpires.’  Yes, he pitched a lot of complete games.  He also led a complete life.”  Indeed he did.

Robbie was the most unassuming Hall of Famer you could meet.  He just was a very nice person through and through.  Never wanted to be treated like a prima donna. He was a humble legend.

Robbie lived in a four-bedroom ranch that included a game room and a family room.  Each of those rooms had a TV set and that’s where he could be found, watching the
Phillies play.  Sometimes it was the game room, other times the family room  that included a large HD set, which wasn’t purchased until this year.  He was satisfied with the smaller color set.

Following the memorial service and a reception at the nearby Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club, the Roberts’ family members returned to the ranch and watched the last few innings of last night’s win.  Everyone knew he too was watching, somehow.

Each of the four sons spoke about growing up with a baseball star father, someone who didn’t pretend to be a star.  Each did it with class and strength, just as Robbie had done when he spoke at his wife’s funeral nearly five years ago that ended a 56-year-marriage.  Each mentioned how difficult it was for dad after mom had died.

Six of us from the front office were there, David Montgomery, Bill Giles, Mike Stiles, Richard Deats, Debbie Nocito and myself.  Phillies Alumni included Dick Allen and his wife, Willa, Ruben Amaro Sr., Lee Elia and Paul Stuffel, Robbie’s teammate in the early 1950s.  Retired umpire Richie Garcia came to pay his respects.  Randy Ayers, former 76ers coach, did the same.

Robbie loved the current Phillies team.  Jimmy Rollins, in Clearwater to continue his rehab, and his wife, Johari, were there to represent the current team.  Robbie would have been touched by that.

Youngest of Robbie’s four sons is Jim.  He spoke last and made a touching comment: “Mom died five years ago next month, right around father’s day.  Dad died near mother’s day.  He just decided he was going back with her.”

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