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Go Blue (And Gold)

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By Paul Feinberg '85

Published Apr 26, 2017 8:00 AM


Dave Roberts ‘95 sees parallels between Bruin Athletics and the L.A. Dodgers: both have brands that are recognized worldwide.


Photo by Aaron Smith.

To Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts ’95, his years as a UCLA student and Bruin ballplayer were some of the best of his life. Going to basketball and football games and playing baseball at Jackie Robinson Stadium are among his favorite memories. “When I talk to my kids about where they can go to school, [I tell them] UCLA really impacted me, from the professors to the student body.”

Now back in L.A. after a career playing and coaching around the major leagues, Roberts maintains close ties to UCLA. He’s cultivated friendships with Baseball Head Coach John Savage and Men’s Basketball Head Coach Steve Alford, keeping close tabs on both programs. At a recent Dodger Stadium ceremony celebrating Jackie Robinson, Roberts spent time with Gary Adams ’62, M.S. ’64, his head coach while playing for UCLA, along with visiting Arizona Diamondbacks manager and Bruin Torey Lovullo ’89 and current Dodgers second baseman and Bruin Chase Utley. Roberts also keeps track of UCLA stars around the big leagues; he mentions Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole as one with whom he has formed a friendship. Roberts even admits to rooting for Brandon Crawford, a former Bruin who plays shortstop for the rival San Francisco Giants.

In Roberts’ first season as the Dodgers’ skipper, the team won the National League’s Western Division, but fell to the eventual World Series-winning Chicago Cubs in the next round of the playoffs. The experience proved valuable. “You realize that you can’t make everyone happy,” he says. “There were a lot of things that didn’t go the way we had hoped, but there’s always tomorrow. I really have great coaches, and the thing for me is just having a process in place to make the best decisions for our club. I’ve got a lot of good support; that’s something I want to continue to trust in.”

Roberts sees parallels between his Bruins and his Dodgers. “It’s hard to put into words, but emotionally, it’s over the top. UCLA’s got a worldwide brand. And we feel that the Dodgers have that same brand. And there are only so many universities or sports franchises that can even come close to entertaining the thought of rivaling the Dodgers or UCLA. I know that Jackie was very proud about his time at UCLA and how the university embraced him, and I feel the same way. There’s a lot of pride in knowing that one of the great social icons in our lifetime spent his years at UCLA. He paved the way for a lot of people, and continuing to extend his legacy is a big responsibility that I take a lot of pride in.”

Bruins can share in that mutual pride on Friday, April 28, when the Dodgers celebrate UCLA Night, for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Roberts is hoping for a big blue-and-gold turnout. “It’s a great mix, and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Roberts says. “UCLA fans get a great-looking cap with a UCLA ticket package available at dodgers.com/UCLA. It’s got the Bruins’ blue and gold with the L.A. logo on the front — it’s pretty cool.”

To view the original article from the UCLA Newsroom visit http://ucla.in/2phYxt2.

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