13. ROBIN ROBERTS, Pitcher
An Illinois native, the Phillies signed Robin Roberts as a free agent out of Michigan State in 1948, and that same season he made 20 starts as a 21-year old rookie. Two years later, Roberts had the first of six consecutive 20-win seasons, and helped lead the ‘Whiz Kids’ to the National League Pennant.
Over 13 seasons with the Phillies from 1948-61, Roberts amassed 234 wins. He had 28 victories in 1952 alone, and then won 23 every year from 1953-55, leading the NL from 1952-55. He also led the NL in Strikeouts (1953-54), Innings Pitched (1951-55) and a number of other categories during the 1950’s.
Not a true power pitcher, Roberts still allowed fewer hits (3,661) than innings pitched (3,739.1) over his Phillies career. He was a National League All-Star every year from 1950-56, and finished in the top 7 of NL MVP voting five times as a Phillies pitcher, including as the runner-up in that great 1952 campaign.
He holds the record for most consecutive Opening Day starts for the same team as a pitcher (12), having toed the Phils rubber in their season opener every year from 1950-61. Roberts holds a handful of Phillies franchise pitching records, including for career Games, Innings, and Complete Games, and he is 27th on the all-time MLB Wins list with 286 victories despite pitching most of his career for losing teams.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976, the first player ever voted-in (non-Veteran’s Committee) after spending a majority of their career seasons with the Phillies. He also spent that 1976 season as a color commentator on Phillies radio broadcasts.
His uniform number 36 is one of just five Phillies players to have their numbers retired (not counting Jackie Robinson‘s 42), and in 1978 he became the first member of the team’s Wall of Fame.
In 2004, Roberts was inducted into the inaugural class of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, and when Citizens Bank Park opened that year it included a statue of Roberts at the 3rd base gate.