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Mel Roberts

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Mel Roberts, former manager of the Spartanburg Phillies, passed away unexpectedly Saturday at the age of 64. Roberts had just completed his third season as a coach with the Danville (Va.) Braves, a minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. He had been with the organization for 11 seasons. The cause of death is not yet clear, Roberts' wife Lucille said Sunday. She is scheduled to meet with doctors this week. "The team's last game was Friday. We were just waiting for him to come home," Lucille Roberts said. "He was healthy and still working, so this was a real shock." No funeral arrangements have been made yet, Lucille said. The family plans to hold a memorial service in Spartanburg, and Roberts will be buried in his hometown of Willow Grove, Pa. "Mel was a very nice person, very easygoing," said Lucille, Roberts' wife of more than 30 years. "We met through a classmate here in Spartanburg. He made Spartanburg his home and loved it." Prior to joining the Braves' organization, Roberts served as the first-base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1992-95. He managed the Spartanburg Phillies from 1988-91 and won the South Atlantic League Championship in 1988 and was also named an All-Star manager. Roberts played nine years of professional baseball from 1961-70, signing first with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1961. He was out of professional baseball in 1965, playing semi-pro ball for Jenkintown. He signed with the Phillies organization in September 1965 and played through 1970. Roberts graduated from Abington High School in Abington, Pa., and attended Temple University and Spartanburg Tech. "The entire Braves community is saddened by the loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with Mel's family at this time," Danville general manager David Cross said in a release on the team's Web site. "Mel had a long career in baseball and touched a lot of people on and off the field. He will be missed by many." Roberts was also an avid golfer and active participant in community projects in Spartanburg. "He meant a lot to this area," said former mayor James Talley, a close friend. "He would participate in any program that would help kids. He was just a genuine generous person." Roberts is survived by his wife and four kids, Jimmy, Juan, Jacquelin and Linda.
Published in Spartanburg Herald-Journal on Sept. 3, 2007
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