LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Dodgers have officially named Dave Roberts as the team’s first-ever minority manager.
A former Dodgers outfielder, Roberts, who has an African American father and a Japanese mother, will replace Don Mattingly, who managed the Dodgers for the last five seasons.
Mattingly was hired last month as manager of the Miami Marlins.
Roberts, 43, becomes one of only three minorities to manage in the major leagues, joining Dusty Baker, who was hired by the Washington Nationals this month, and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves.
“It’s hard for me to put into words what it means to be named manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Roberts. “The Dodgers are the ground-breaking franchise of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo.
“When I put on this uniform as a player, I understood the special responsibility to honor those that played before me as well as the amazing bond between the Dodgers and their fans. I feel that I have now come full circle in my career and there is plenty of unfinished business left in L.A.”
Roberts – who has no previous major league managerial experience – was with the Padres for six seasons, starting as a special assistant in baseball operations in 2010, and moving on to first base coach for three seasons and then bench coach for 2014-15.
He did manage one game in the interim when the Padres fired Bud Black in the middle of last season.
USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he expects the team to band together to make up for Roberts’ lack of experience.
“I think this is going to be a cohesive effort by the front office staff and Dave Roberts and probably new coaches,” said Nightengale. “It’s essential he gets a veteran bench coach to come along with him.”
The starting center fielder for the Dodgers from 2002-04, Roberts hit .262 in 302 games and stole 118 bases in 143 attempts. He is the fourth L.A. Dodger manager to also play for the franchise, joining Tommy Lasorda, Bill Russell and Glenn Hoffman.
The team gave him an official welcome on Twitter.
As a player, Roberts is perhaps best known for a stolen base in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, a steal that sparked a historic comeback for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees and led to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 86 years.
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