Someone with the last name of Roberts was smiling, and what else to expect on this special night.
“That was really cool,’’ he said.
Is it Dave Roberts, the North County dynamo, as he was being inducted Tuesday into the Breitbard Hall of Fame?
Well, he was pretty pleased, too.
But Cole Roberts, his son, had just met one of his sports heroes. Philip Rivers, the affable Chargers quarterback, made Cole’s evening when it really belonged to his old man.
Now here comes Pops and his grin matches Cole’s.
“He’ll always remember that,’’ he said of his teenager shaking hands with Rivers.
Just like Roberts will never be far from our thoughts, even with his commute going north, and not south, on Interstate 5.
Roberts, 43, is set to pull out from his Cardiff driveway, pointing his ride toward Dodger Stadium. The new Dodgers manager then heads to spring training, starting the process of getting them somewhere they haven’t been since 1988: the World Series.
That’s only four years after Roberts planted his roots in North County. He played Little League in Vista, starred at Rancho Buena Vista High School and even circled back as a Padres player and coach.
OK, L.A., he’s all yours — kind of.
“This is home,’’ Roberts said, and he wasn’t eyeing the San Fernando Valley. “It will always be home.’’
But he’s bolting from his friendly confines to spread his high-energy message of hope, love and optimism to dem bums in Dodger blue.
That still seems funny to type, but it’s no joke that Roberts is ready for his Hollywood close-up.
He’s paid his dues and earned his baseball stripes in securing one of the sport’s most prestigious jobs.
This is where we break down the Dodgers, winners of three straight National League West titles — and Roberts’ quest to push them toward their seventh world championship.
Then again, there’s plenty of opportunities for that and why pass on letting Roberts shine once again under the warm North County sun?
Roberts, an overachieving player with an over-the-top view on life, will always be one of ours — sorry, L.A.
“It started in Oceanside and Vista playing Little League and many of those people tracked me through high school, college and all the different stops along the way,’’ Roberts said. “They always stayed with me.’’
If lucky enough to spend time with the personable Roberts, it’s easy to see why.
He’s someone who’s never met a stranger. Roberts makes everyone at ease and maybe that’s why it’s so hard to let go.
Roberts’ baseball accomplishments are why he entered San Diego’s Hall of Champions, that sparkling jewel of a museum in Balboa Park. It’s where sports idols never grow old and young, rising stars are embraced with as much reverence.
The hall’s founder, Bob Breitbard, left a legacy that never loses its luster. His homage to San Diego’s athletic standouts, of all ages, guarantees they always have a place to reside and nothing would make him prouder.
But seldom does a player’s demeanor off the field match his domination on it. If they ever build a good-guy wing in Breitbard’s majestic building, Roberts would be among the first to be enshrined.
But that’s background information, and the stuff that makes the modest Roberts squirm. Just like when it’s mentioned he was a three-sport starter as a sophomore at Rancho Buena Vista, an All-American at UCLA and a 10-year major-leaguer in a career that included a stolen base in Boston that’s nearly as famous as some guy named Revere’s pony ride.
Giddy up and go on up to L.A., Mr. Roberts. But excuse us if we remember the smile of someone we’ll miss, but not forget.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports