Roberge, Bert (1988)
Bert did all his schooling and playing ball in Maine before joining pro ranks, starting with the PAL, Colt league, E.L. under Dick Osgood and Legion ball under Jim Bouchles.
He led E.L. to 2 straight A.V.L. championships highlighted by 3-hit pitching performance against Lewiston including hitting 2 home-runs in the A.V.L.
championship game his senior year.
Then played 4 years in Legion ball with several trips to Togus, finishing a brilliant career just 1 at bat short. That at bat undoubtedly would have brought a state championship to Jim Bouchles and Post 153.
Bert finished his high school career by winning the Grandstand Club scholarship award.
He attended U.M.O. and made varsity squad his freshman year pitching mostly in relief, getting his first start against Bates College pitching a 9 inning shutout and becoming the U.M.O. mount ace for the next 3 years. Chosen to All Yankee Conference his Sophomore and Junior years and led the team to the Yankee Conference Championship his Junior and Senior years, making it all the way to Omaha for the College World Series.
He played under the late Jack Butterfield for 2 years and learned his college bread and butter pitch, the slider from assistant coach Jim Chaplin. He also played for John Winkin his final 2 years. Finishing his college career with a 21-5 record and 2.00 E.R.A. the 21 wins were a record for a U.M.O. pitcher at that time. Highlights included a 1-0 1 hitter against U. of Penn. in regional playoffs, in ’75 and a 6 hit 6-2 victory over a powerful Penn State in ’76 leading to the College World Series where Maine placed fourth.
Drafted in the seventeenth round by the Houston Astros and heard of it while attending a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on the way to Omaha. Played for 8 years in the Houston organization getting his first call to the big leagues on May 24, 1979. He made his first appearance 4 days later in San Diego pitching 2 scoreless innings without throwing a forkball, the pitch that got him to the big leagues. ‘‘It was great to know that I was able to get big league hitters out with the same stuff I threw in college,’’ he was remembered as saying.
He got his first major win against N.Y. Mets on June 18, 1979 and his first save against Montreal on June 3, 1979. Later in the year he learned how to throw the ‘‘split fingered fastball’’ from Bruce Sutter and it became his number | pitch. He split the next 4 years between triple A and Houston compiling a 6-2 record with 7T saves and 3.75 E.R.A.
Signed with the White Sox as a free agent 1n *84 and played for | year in the American league. Then made his first and last appearance at Fenway Park July 25, 1984 pitching 2 perfect innings of relief in the tenth and eleventh innings getting the heart of Boston line up out in order including Boggs, Rice, Evans, and Armas. “‘It was a dream come true, pitching in Fenway Park. I’ll never forget the feeling that I had standing on that mound.’’ He finished the season with a 3-3 record and 2 saves and a 3./6 E.R.A.
He was traded at the winter meetings to the Montreal Expos where he played his final 2 years, giving many Lewiston and Auburn fans a chance to see him play.
Probably the 2 most memorable moments of his Expo career included striking out Johnny Bench with the bases loaded to save the game, and giving up a 2-run homer to Jack Clark in St. Louis on the Game of the week helping St. Louis clinch the pennant and making a household name of Bert Roberge as the moment was played over and over in St. Louis and across the country.
Bert ended up playing 5 years at Major league ball pitching against greats such as Willie Stargell, Willie McCovey, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Steve Garvey, Dave Winfield, George Bell, Don Mattingly, and Wade Boggs to name a few and compiled record of 12-12 with 14 saves and a 3.99 E.R.A.