**** AAABA National Champions 1947, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1986, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 ****
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Former Senator Connor Robertson Gets Recalled by Diamondbacks


Pitching brothers David and Connor Robertson arrive in the majors within hours of each other

Friday, July 11, 2008

RAY MELICK

The Birmingham News .

News staff writer

Brothers David and Connor Robertson played an interesting game of "Can you top this?" two weeks ago.

On June 28, Tuscaloosa native and former University of Alabama pitcher David Robertson got called up from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre to join the New York Yankees bullpen.

Less than 24 hours after getting the good news about David, older brother Connor was on his way from Triple-A Tucson to join the pitching staff of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I beat him by a day," said David, "although he got called up for a few days at the end of last season with Oakland , so technically he beat me."

The 22-year-old David Robertson made a quick rise through the Yankees organization after being selected in the 17th round of the 2006 draft. After one year in Single-A ball, Robertson started this season at Double-A Trenton, where he struck out 26 hitters in 18 innings and posted a 0.96 earned run average.

That got him called up to Triple-A ball in Scranton , where he was 3-0 in 20 games, striking out 48 hitters in 33 innings with a 1.64 ERA.

"I think David's stuff is really good," said Connor, three years older and taken by the Oakland A's in the 31st round of the 2004 draft. "He's got pitches he hasn't even shown them yet. He'll be fine. He gets the ball up there quicker than I do."

After getting called up at the end of the 2007 season by the A's, Connor Robertson was traded to Arizona in the offseason and began this year in Tucson . He was called up to the major league club June 29, sent down July 5, and called back on July 7 when another pitcher went on the disabled list.

"That's baseball," Connor said. "I don't know how long I'll be up. It might only be until some guys come off the DL. I just have to make the most of every opportunity I get."

As a third baseman, Connor Robertson was MVP of the NAIA World Series as a freshman on Birmingham-Southern College 's national championship team. He didn't really start pitching until his senior year, and even now is surprised to be making his living as a pitcher

When Oakland signed me as a pitcher, I was shocked," Connor said. "I thought I'd be an infielder. But I said, `OK.' Fortunately, I had great pitching coaches at Oakland . And last year, in Double-A, you realize you better learn how to pitch or they'll figure you out and you'll be gone."

Former BSC coach Brian Shoop, now head coach at UAB, laughs when he thinks about how close he came to passing on Connor.

"I had one scholarship left and wanted a combo player (fielder-pitcher)," Shoop said. "I went to see Connor (at Central High in Tuscaloosa ). He played third base, and I liked him, but told him we really needed a pitcher. The next day, Connor called me and begged me to come see him pitch. I did, and we ended up taking a chance.

"Then he ends up the MVP of the World Series for us as a freshman, and gets us to the NCAA Regional as a first baseman-closer as a senior. To think we almost passed on the World Series MVP - how bad would that have been?"

Major league scouts had their doubts about David Robertson because of his 5-foot-11 size despite his accomplishments with the Crimson Tide.

Yankees scout Damon Oppenheimer got a call from Robertson's summer league coach, who told him: "Your guy is the real deal," Oppenheimer told the New York Post. "We brought his curveball back and he's doing great."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called Robertson's curve "devastating," and two days before Robertson started classes at Alabama for the fall of'06 he made Robertson an offer the pitcher couldn't refuse.

In five games for the Yankees, Robertson has pitched seven innings, allowing two runs with seven strikeouts for a 2.57 ERA.

"My first game was in Shea Stadium (against the Mets)," David said. "It was crazy. I'd never pitched in front of 50,000 people. I just kind of got through it. To be honest, it flew by. But I worked two innings (giving up one run) and did OK."

Connor Robertson watched David's first appearance from the Diamondbacks' clubhouse on TV.

"The first thing everyone said was, `He doesn't look like you,'" said the 6-foot-3 Connor. "It was nerve-wracking for me more than anything. But I really got a kick out of it."

Connor Robertson has pitched four innings for the Diamondbacks, allowing three runs and has a 6.23 ERA. While David is known for his curve, Connor throws a slider and relies more on location to get batters out.

"He throws a slider, I throw a curve," said David Robertson. "But we're both middle relievers for now. I haven't seen him pitch yet, but we talk or text every day.

"When I heard he got called up, I went crazy."

It's been really crazy for their parents, Jimmy and Brenda, who have been on the road since both of their boys got called up.

"My mom and dad were in New York all week with David," Connor said. "I don't think they'd ever been to New York , but they were up there, riding subways, getting around.

"They went back to Tuscaloosa , turned around and drove to Washington (D.C., where the Diamondbacks are playing the Nationals) to see me. I think they're the ones who are having the most fun."

Connor did not pitch for the Senators but in the 2001 AAABA World Series he did win the RBI title. Connor contributed heavily at the plate hitting .447 and collecting 13 RBI, as Senators claimed the National Championship. Connor joins Cla Meredith, Joe Saunders, Jon Papelbon, Jared Burton, Shawn Camp, and Manny Burris as former Senators that are currently in the Major Leagues.