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Phillies PA Announcer Dan Baker reflects on Robin Roberts


Philadelphia Phillies Public Address Announcer and broadcasting legend Dan Baker sat down with Philly2Philly this past weekend to discuss the passing of his boyhood idol, Robin Roberts.

Philly2Philly: I would imagine the news this week about the passing of Robin Roberts hit you pretty hard.

Dan Baker: Phillies PA ANnouncer and Broadcasting Legend Dan Baker. Photo: Joe Vallee Sr.Robin Roberts  was my biggest sports hero. He was back in the day, and he will always be.

I was born in 1946, so I started following sports when I was around eight years old. My first sports heroes were Roberts, Chuck Bednarik of the Eagles, and Paul Arizin of the Philadelphia Warriors. Eventually it evolved into Dick Allen, Wilt Chamberlain of the Warriors and later the Sixers, and Guy Rodgers. They may have been my heroes, but Robin Roberts was just so enduring, and it meant so much more when I grew up and came to know him as a friend. He just epitomized everything that's right about your super hero.

And of course, he's a Baseball Hall of Famer. His records speak for themselves. Today, when a starting pitcher throws 200 or more innings, he's considered an iron horse. Robin Roberts threw 300 or more innings six straight years from 1950-1955. The Phillies haven't had 20-game winner since Steve Carlton in 1982 (although I do think Roy Halladay  may change that this year). However, Robin Roberts won 20 games or more for six straight years from 1950-1955. He started around 600 games in his great career and he completed 305 of them. If a pitcher throws half a dozen to eight complete games a year in today's day and age, that's enough to top the league. Robin threw 30 complete games in a season. If a pitcher throws 30 complete games in a career, that today is considered an achievement. He was just a great athlete.

Since I started following the Phillies around 1954-1955, The Whiz Kids  still made up most of the team, but their best years were past them. So through to mid-fifties to early sixties, the Phillies were a second division club. Many great teams during this era came into Connie Mack Stadium. You had the Giants with Willie Mays, the Braves with Hank Aaron, the Cardinals with Stan Musial, the Dodgers with Duke Snider and Roy Campanella. Despite all of these great players on the visiting teams, we had Robin Roberts, and that to me was no small consolation.Robin Roberts. Photo: http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/Robin_Roberts.jpg

P2P: Do you remember the first time you actually met him?

DB: The first time I met Robin was probably in the press box in Veterans Stadium around 1972-1973. I grew up emulating (former Connie Mack Stadium PA Announcer) Pete Byron and Dave Zinkoff of the Warriors and Sixers, and I always thought to myself that it would be an unbelievable honor to introduce Robin Roberts. As luck would have it, I later had the opportunity to do just that through the alumni functions over the years that the Phillies have hosted. I eventually had the pleasure of introducing Robin to my son Darren. Upon that first meeting, I remember saying to Darren "Son, this was daddy's hero, and he still is." Years later, Robin would see Darren, muss his hair and say "Hey Darren, you look like a pretty good athlete." That made me really proud. It would have been an honor to try and attend Robin's services in Florida. However, my wife Kathy and I made prior arrangements to visit my daughter, who I see so infrequently.

Robin Roberts was a man who I admired very much. He was a terrific gentleman, a wonderful husband and father, and he was just always so gracious. We will all miss him greatly.

Dan Baker has been the Public Address Announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies since 1972. You can see Dan on select dates at Chickie's and Pete's on Roosevelt Blvd for "The Bull Session" with Greg Luzinski. You can also catch Dan this summer on select nights at Chickie's and Pete's Summer Nights at the Ballpark. Check below for a location near you!

Upcoming Summer Nights at the Ballpark dates include:

Thurs May 27th Phils vs Mets 7PM LIVE! from Bordentown

Fri May 28th Phils vs Mets 7PM LIVE! from Egg Harbor

Fri June 11th Phils vs Boston 7PM LIVE! from Egg Harbor

Sun June 13th Phils vs Boston TBA LIVE! from Rooselvelt Blvd

Wed June 16th Phils vs Yankees 7PM LIVE! from South Philly

Thurs June 17th Phils vs Yankees 7PM LIVE! from Bordentown

Fri June 25th Phils vs Toronto 7PM LIVE! from Egg Harbor

Sun June 27th Phils vs Toronto 1PM LIVE! from Roosevelt Blvd