Roberts in 1976
|Born: January 22, 1951|
|September 3, 1974, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1984, for the Kansas City Royals|
|Runs batted in||328|
Leon Kauffman Roberts (born January 22, 1951) is a former corner outfielder in Major League Baseball who played from 1974 through 1984 for the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals. Listed at 6' 3", 200 lb., Roberts batted and threw right handed.
Roberts was born in Vicksburg, Michigan, and attended the University of Michigan, originally recruited to play football by coach Bo Schembechler. He was drafted by Detroit and eventually earned the dubious honor of replacing Al Kaline in right field for the Tigers.
His most productive season came in 1978, when he led the Mariners with a .301 batting average, good for sixth in the American League. In the Opening Game, he belted a grand slam off Minnesota Twins pitcher Geoff Zahn.
On February 5, 1983, Roberts was traded by the Blue Jays to the Royals for a young Cecil Fielder. He also pitched one inning for Kansas City in 1984, giving up three earned runs. He played his last game on September 30, 1984.
At the end of his career it was discovered that Roberts had seriously bad eyesight due to an accident when he was a child. "I have real bad eyes," Roberts said, "I stabbed my eye with a knife when I was a kid. I was goofing around with my jackknife. I kept it hidden because I wanted to be a ballplayer. I had bad focusing point in my right eye and bad depth perception in my left eye, but I kept it secret so I wouldn’t be released. I never told anyone that I had such bad vision in my right eye, not a manager, not a teammate, not anyone. When we had our physicals in spring training there would be a long line, just like a cattle call. I would sneak up and read the line they wanted us to read and memorize it. Then when I got up there I’d just recite what I’d memorized. No one ever figured it out. I would always force myself to really concentrate on reading the ball and tracking the ball."
In an 11-season career, Roberts posted a batting average of .267 (731-for-2,737) with 78 home runs and 328 RBI in 901 games played. Following his professional playing career, he began a career managing in the Minor Leagues.
- Retrosheet Boxscore : Minnesota Twins 8, Seattle Mariners 6. Game Played on Sunday, April 9, 1978 (D) at Kingdome
- http://blog.detroitathletic.com/2015/06/02/former-tiger-leon-roberts-recalls-his-11-year-career-in-the-big-leagues/ Dan Holmes, interview with Roberts on June 1, 2015
- Venezuelan League batting statistics
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leon Roberts.|
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Baseball Gauge
- Leon Roberts -- Tigers' Star Rookie, Ludington Daily News, May 15, 1975
- Houston, Detroit Swap 7, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, December 7, 1975
- Outside of Seattle, nobody knows Leon Roberts, Ellensburg Daily Record (UPI story), September 1, 1978
- Royals pick up Roberts in deal for minor leaguer, Lawrence Journal-World (AP story), February 5, 1983
- Roberts Dismissed As Hen Manager, Toledo Blade, September 17, 1987