It’s the World Series with the Dodgers being led by Cardiff’s Dave Roberts. That leads to an inevitable situation at Steve Hargrave’s Carlsbad home.
Hargrave coached Roberts, the Dodgers manager, at Rancho Buena Vista High School. He’s learned the lessons of what happens during playoff games.
During a Dodgers pitching change, Hargrave’s nervous wife leaves the room. The phone ringing? Yep, his brother-in-law checking in to second-guess Roberts’ decision.
“I take so much heat,” Hargrave said. “Hopefully the good guy wins this time.”
That would be Roberts, the one person who could unite the Padres and Dodgers fan bases. Scratch that and we know better.
It’s blasphemous for a Padres honk to root for L.A., but the personable Roberts, an ex-Padre player and coach, always leaves people on a high note.
Roberts, a 28th-round draft pick out of UCLA who outsmarted others to produce a 10-year MLB career, could soon carve out a pumpkin and his spot in Dodgers lore.
It would fit nicely on Roberts’ resume, which includes never having to buy dinner in Boston again after his 2004 postseason performance for the Red Sox.
The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988, which was one year after Solana Beach’s John Kentera did his first interview for a prep segment during a Chargers tailgate show.
“I went out to RBV and in walked this kid named Dave Roberts,” said Kentera, a sports talk host on 97.3 The Fan. “He was a sophomore and the quarterback of the football team.”
Roberts was also the undersized point guard on the basketball squad, plus the leadoff hitter and center fielder for the Broncos’ starting nine.
“He could run down anything in the outfield,” said Steve Riehle, Hargrave’s longtime assistant. “His motor would run from the first pitch to the end of the game.”
Toss in equal doses of fortitude and not being allergic to sweat and it was clear Roberts had giddy-up.
“He always showed leadership in the dugout,” Hargrave recalled. “He would go up-and-down the bench telling each guy, ‘Let’s go!’ ”
In a positive manner that didn’t have others wishing Roberts would scram.
“That was it with Dave, that he did it in a way that he wasn’t a jerk,” Hargrave said. “Instead everyone wanted to follow him. It was because nobody out-worked him and he had that infectious personality that made others want to follow.”
Roberts’ trail still leads to RBV. Earlier this year Roberts’ uniform was retired, and the diamond was named for a gem of a coach in Hargrave.
Hargrave, RBV’s skipper for 17 years, said it was an honor to know Roberts, 48, whose impact is still felt.
Roberts’ generosity rivals his contributions on the field, which has the Dodgers in the World Series for the third time in four seasons.
“Dave has given back so much with our major fundraisers,” said Hargrave, who directed RBV to the 2004 CIF San Diego Section Division I title. “He would bring back other players and he gave us his baseball cleats and gloves from the World Series.”
Nearly every RBV player dreams of being in the Fall Classic and just maybe the baseballs they smack preceded their arrival.
“He would give us a whole bunch of major league baseballs that we would use in batting practice and they had a little more life to them,” Hargrave said. “The kids are hitting the balls and they’re flying. They thinking, ‘We’re pretty good!’ ”
Thanks to a well-grounded guy who didn’t forget his roots. That has Roberts’ longtime friends, like his first prep coach, Vista’s Butch Smith, and Kentera, doing the unthinkable.
“I’m rooting for the Dodgers,” said Kentera, whose Padres allegiance is deep. “It’s because of Dave.”
The same speedster who set that RBV team mark in the 60-yard dash until it wasn’t. On one RBV visit, Hargrave broke the news that Roberts’ time was now second-best.
“He was always very competitive,” Hargrave said.
Roberts eyed the teenagers, threw down the challenge and beat them all over 60 yards.
Hargrave shrugged, thinking Roberts was never a runner-up on big league rosters.
“I’m not sure,” Roberts said. “They don’t let us race because they’re afraid we’ll hurt a hamstring.”
Hargrave’s heart sank thinking of the sprint’s ramifications. No doubt that heart will feel a tug during the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays when the cameras find Roberts.
Just listen for Hargrave’s phone to ring.
Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him @jparis_sports