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Published: Friday, 5/7/2010

Ex-Whiz Kid Roberts dies at 83

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHILADELPHIA - Long before pitch counts, setup men and closers, Robin Roberts usually finished what he started.

Roberts, the tireless Hall of Fame right-hander who led the Philadelphia Phillies to the 1950 National League pennant as part of the famed "Whiz Kids," died yesterday at his Temple Terrace, Fla., home of natural causes, the Phillies said, citing son Jim. He was 83.

He was the most productive pitcher in the National League in the first half of the 1950s, topping the league in wins from 1952 to 1955, innings pitched from '51 to '55 and complete games from '52 to '56.

He won 286 games and put together six consecutive 20-win seasons. Roberts had 45 career shutouts, 2,357 strikeouts and a lifetime ERA of 3.41. He pitched 305 complete games, but also gave up more home runs than any other major league pitcher. Phils pitcher Jamie Moyer is on the verge of breaking that mark. The 47-year-old Moyer has given up 498 homers, seven fewer than Roberts.

Roberts played in an era when pitchers expected to go the distance. Put it this way: In the last 25 years, Phillies pitchers threw a total of 300 complete games - five fewer than Roberts all by himself. Roberts made 609 career starts, finishing more than half.

A statue of him outside the first-base gate at Citizens Bank Park was adorned with a wreath yesterday.

Roberts' No. 36 jersey, which the team retired in 1962, was hung in the dugout before an afternoon game with St. Louis. It will remain there the rest of the season, at home and on the road. Players will wear No. 36 on their sleeves.

"He was still really close to the organization and he loved this current team," said Larry Shenk, the vice president of alumni relations.

Phillies All-Star right fielder Jayson Werth was Roberts' favorite player because he also came from Springfield, Ill. Fittingly, Werth hit a three-run homer in the first inning against the Cardinals.

Roberts was the leading pitcher on the 1950 squad that won the franchise's first pennant in 35 years. Roberts put together a 20-11 season with a 3.02 ERA and five shutouts.

The team, with several 25-and-younger stars such as Roberts, Richie Ashburn, and Del Ennis, was dubbed the "Whiz Kids." It marked the end of a three-decade span in which the Phillies were mostly awful.



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