The Orioles announced Thursday that two-time All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts has been elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame and longtime radio broadcaster Fred Manfra will be inducted as this year’s Herbert E. Armstrong Award winner.
Roberts and Manfra will be honored at a luncheon at Camden Yards sponsored by the Oriole Advocates, founders of the Orioles Hall of Fame, on Aug. 10 at noon, as well as during an on-field ceremony before the Orioles’ game Aug. 11 against the Boston Red Sox.
Roberts is the first inductee into the Orioles Hall of Fame since 2015, a class headlined by infielder Melvin Mora that also included John Lowenstein, Gary Roenicke and Fred Uhlman Sr.
“So many memories,” Roberts said. “Camden Yards certainly is a fond place for me and the fans, and everyone that gave me so much support and my family so much support over the years. I just feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be alongside so many great Orioles. I just felt incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to play so long in Baltimore and be a part of the community for that long.”
A first-round draft pick in 1999 who made his major league debut with the Orioles on June 14, 2001, Roberts made his first Opening Day roster in 2004 and led the team with a .314 average a season later. He made his first All-Star appearance in 2005, then another in 2007.
Roberts, 40, hit .278 with 1,452 career hits, leading Orioles second baseman in every major statistical category. Roberts is also among the club’s overall career leaders in stolen bases (second, 278), doubles (fourth, 351), runs (sixth, 810), triples (sixth, 35), extra-base hits (seventh, 478), walks (seventh, 581), hits (ninth, 1,452), at-bats (10th, 5,214), total bases (10th, 2,149) and games (12th, 1,327).
Roberts was a wildly popular player for a string of Orioles teams that struggled in the 2000s, but his career was not without potholes. He was named in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, and admitted later to using steroids in 2003 but only once. His career was cut short by injuries, including a concussion, that limited him to 192 games over the four-year, $40 million contract that began in 2010. He played in 2014 for the New York Yankees before retiring that October.
Roberts, now a Sarasota resident, said everything seems like it flew by in retrospect.
“Everything feels like a long time ago right now,” Roberts said. “2001 seems like a long time ago, but at the other hand, it feels like yesterday. Life goes so fast and you try to soak it all in, and you try to understand what it means at the time, but I don't think you do. It just is all happening so fast. I try to tell these guys all the time, it goes way faster than you could ever imagine.”
While Roberts played primarily during the Orioles’ playoff drought, he sees their current success as the culmination of a decade of hard work that took a while to build up but has been validated by the sustained success that followed.
Before retiring this past season, Manfra spent 24 years with the Orioles radio network. The East Baltimore native and Patterson High School graduate joined Orioles radio broadcasts in 1993. He was on the call the nights when Cal Ripken Jr. tied and broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games record. He called Orioles games during five playoff seasons. In his 47-year broadcasting career, Manfra covered NBA Finals and NBA All-Star Games, the Olympics, NHL Stanley Cup Finals and All-Star Games, the Breeders’ Cup and Triple Crown races, among other marquee events.
Manfra will be 20th recipient of the Herbert E. Armstrong Award, an award established in 1995 to honor nonuniformed personnel. Other winners include broadcaster Chuck Thompson (1995) and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells (2011), who retired last fall.
On a conference call, Manfra sent his congratulations to Roberts — whose entire career he broadcast. Manfra is enjoying retirement as a grandfather in Tampa, keeping up with the team as best as he can, and looking forward to the Aug. 11 ceremony at Camden Yards.
“It’s something that I never expected,” Manfra said. “Having been an Orioles fan all my life, and broadcasting the Orioles, it was the furthest thing from my mind that I would ever be mentioned in the great names that are in the Orioles Hall of Fame. The Herb Armstrong is something that’s beyond belief, and very humbling.”