The Los Angeles Dodgers are again champions of baseball — largely because of a masterful managerial job by Dave Roberts, who became just the second African American skipper and the first with Asian heritage to win the World Series.
The Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 Tuesday night in Game 6 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, the first time Major League Baseball held the Fall Classic at a neutral site.
“It feels great,” proclaimed Roberts, who joined Cito Gaston as the only Black managers to lead their team to a world championship. Gaston’s Toronto Blue Jays won back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993.
The title is the seventh in franchise history for the Dodgers and first since 1988.
It marked the second celebration in less than a month for a Los Angeles professional sports team, following the Lakers’ win over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
The victory also comes 33 years after then-Dodgers general manager Al Campanis infamously told ABC News’ Ted Koppel that Blacks “may not have some of the necessities” to be a manager or general manager of a team.
Since 1992, 11 Black men have managed Major League Baseball teams, including Dusty Baker, who came out of retirement this year to lead the Houston Astros to the American League Championship Series.
Roberts’ success is already legendary. He has compiled an impressive 436-273 career managerial record for a Hall of Fame-caliber .615 winning percentage, and since taking over the Dodgers in 2016, he’s guided the team to three National League championships.
With a deft touch, Roberts steered the Dodgers from a 3-1 deficit in the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. Just 14 teams out of 89 in baseball history have come back to win a best-of-seven series after dropping three of the first four games.
Now he’s delivered the ultimate prize, defeating the relentless and talented Rays in six games.
“No manager bats 1.000, as it were, and Roberts has made plenty of decisions this series and in the playoffs that have backfired or looked bad from the start,” Jon Tayler of Fangraphs wrote. “Yet it’s worth noting that, aside from [Rays pitcher] Blake Snell’s excellent Game 2 [and Game 6] start and the back half of Game 4 culminating in the Yakety Sax routine, that was the final play, the Dodgers have been firmly in control of this Fall Classic.
“It all came together as he planned, as all of his moves worked,” Tayler wrote.
After a challenging 60-game regular season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic and an extra playoff round that culminated into a world championship, Roberts said he’ll let it all sink in.
“It means a lot for me personally, of course,” he said as his players doused him and each other with champagne. “But for the Dodgers organization, the franchise where they’ve always been forward-thinking and groundbreaking as far as race and color barriers.
“So for the Dodgers and for me to be the manager of this ball club to bring a championship back to Los Angeles, I think it’s well beyond bigger than me,” he said.