Dave Roberts’ professional career includes at-bats for the Red Sox, Padres, Dodgers, and Giants. But the Dodgers manager admits he has not always been comfortable talking about life outside of baseball.
“It’s not something I thought about doing because I saw myself as a baseball guy. But I think now, knowing I do have an opportunity to speak up, I’ve got to,” Roberts said.
In a rare personal interview with NBC4, Roberts spoke of his faith and family.
“My wife and I have been together since we were 15, married for 26 years this year, and we’ve got two great kids,” Roberts said. “My dad, African American from Houston, Texas, met my mom through a friend when he was stationed in Okinawa. [He] had the English-to-Japanese dictionary trying to court my mom.”
Get Southern California news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC LA newsletters.
Roberts’ mom is Japanese. He spoke of her at Dodger Stadium during Asian American and Pacific Islander month.
“She has dedicated her life to my sister and I, just building the values of leadership, making the right decision, surrounding yourself with the people,” Roberts said. “She would do anything for us.”
In 2017, Roberts became just the second Asian American Manager in MLB history.
“It’s mind-blowing. I never imagined myself in this position,” he said. “When you’re talking about this franchise who have broken barriers since its inception and know that I’m sort of like a footnote, a good footnote, or a piece of history. Like I said, it’s mind-blowing.”
“I feel that if I can do it right and thrive and do well, I do believe that it will open up more opportunities for people who look like me, and some people that don’t look like me,” Roberts said.
Roberts is coaching at a time when racially motivated crimes are on the rise. Research by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that in 2021, hate crimes increased by 339%.
“For me, I feel the responsibility, compelled to almost get out of my comfort zone and not just be a manager of a ball club, but to also be a voice for Asian Americans,” he said. “I think we’ve certainly slid in the sense of overall racism and how people are being treated on the down-low, overtly, just out in the open. It’s scary. It's sad."
In response to the rise in violence, Roberts sent an internal email to the Dodgers organization, writing, “such bullying is cowardice”.
“I just wanted to make a point that I was going to be a voice for them, and we’re in it together,” he said.
Despite the increase in hate, Roberts describes himself as “relentlessly optimistic.” He hopes to be an inspiration for the younger generation.
“Keep dreaming. Find out what you love and know that you can impact not only your life, but many lives around you,” he said. “When I take a step back and look what I’ve accomplished and where I’m at today, it’s mind-blowing.”