Tacoma Rainiers

Rainiers honor legendary broadcaster Robertson

Bob Robertson, a longtime announcer for the Tacoma Rainiers baseball club at his spot in the broadcast booth which is now named after him in Cheney Stadium, August 25, 2018.
Bob Robertson, a longtime announcer for the Tacoma Rainiers baseball club at his spot in the broadcast booth which is now named after him in Cheney Stadium, August 25, 2018. phaley@thenewstribune.com

It’s getting increasingly hard to locate the Bob Robertson Booth.

Ask a Washington State fan where it is, and they’ll point you to Martin Stadium in Pullman. When in Spokane, an Indians’ fan will send you to Avista Stadium.

After Sunday, those in Tacoma won’t have to go over the mountains to find a booth named after the legendary broadcaster, as the Rainiers will become the third organization to have one in his name.

And according to the man whose seen (and called) it all, the Rainiers did a pretty good job of surprising him.

“I had just finished series in Everett,” Roberston said before Saturday’s game at Cheney Stadium. “I had left a day early, because my kids said they didn’t want me driving home in the dark. So I came home, I went to bed, got up the next day, got started, and got a call that said they wanted me to come over to the ballpark.

“Up to then, I had no knowledge of anything… that’s when I found out they weren’t firing me.”

It’s a fitting honor for someone as ingrained in Tacoma baseball culture as any. Robertson, who began broadcasting baseball with the Wenatchee Chiefs in 1949 after turning down a minor league contract as a player, had established himself as a voice of minor league baseball in the Northwest by the time the Tacoma Giants were founded. When they were, Robertson, who at the time was working with the Seattle Rainiers, was told by his station to go on double-duty, leading to some memorable instances when the two rivals played each other.

“(One time), the Giants of the day had beat the Rainiers of the day 12-0,” Robertson said. “The garbage truck pulled up in front of my house the next day, and the guys wouldn’t take my garbage until I came out and they could give me a bad time about being with the wrong team.”

In the decades since, baseball has changed vastly. The environment has shifted with the establishment of the Mariners and their affiliation the Rainiers. The way players play the game has changed — as Robertson joked, most pitchers no longer boast (or even admit) to throwing fastballs in the high-80s.

But Robertson has stayed constant. For Tacoma. For Spokane. For Washington State football come the fall. (He doesn’t bother with the internet, and is eagerly awaiting a FedEx shipment containing rosters and two-deeps for the Cougars’ Week 1 matchup with Wyoming.)

“We’re here, and I don’t expect to be going anywhere else,” Robertson said. “I can get back and forth between Spokane and here, and I’ll continue to do that. I can get to Cougar games.”

And those signs above the press boxes across the state of Washington — they’ll stay constant as well.

“It makes me feel old,” Robertson joked. “But you feel like you did something that people appreciated, and they’re willing to say that they appreciated all your time and energy taking them to the ball yard.

“I enjoy it very much. I tell people that my vocation and my avocation are the same thing, right down the line.”

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