Eight Bells: Rich Roberts
Published on May 14th, 2021
Noted sports journalist Richard “Rich” Roberts passed away May 12, 2021 in San Pedro, CA. He was 88.
Born and raised in Wilmington, California on March 6, 1933 into a family of newspaper men, Rich quickly learned how to use a camera and how to spot a story while working for the local Press Journal after school and on weekends.
Rich was hired by the San Pedro News Pilot and, having played sports in high school, was always glad to cover the sports beat. He had an innovative writing style that grabbed people’s interest. In interviewing athletes, he wrote from their perspective.
He was given bigger and better assignments as he refined his journalistic skills, all the while carrying his camera just in case the newspaper’s cameraman didn’t get to the event on time. Little did he know how his unique photojournalistic skills would play out in later years.
After a few years with the News Pilot, Rich moved over to the Long Beach Independent/Press Telegram where he covered football, baseball, basketball, track and field and occasionally veered off to cover the Los Angeles Blades hockey team.
It was then that the Los Angeles Times made him an offer. Rich’s writing style was now legendary, and the Times took advantage of his impressive interviewing skills while crafting his stories that were now being read throughout the world.
Over the years, Rich took wife Frances and children Rick and Lori on camping trips all over the western states… capping it off in 1973 with a driving trip to and from Alaska. Camping helped Rich to keep it all in perspective. No matter what national or international issues were occurring, a few days in the Sierra’s cleared his mind and kept him grounded with family.
It was at this time that Rich decided to buy a boat, and with his new love of sailing, Rich joined the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club and found it the perfect fit for sharpening his sailing skills, covering local races and regattas and socializing with fellow members.
For the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles approached, Rich was assigned to cover the Olympic sailing venue, and as with every other new challenge, he did an amazing job and gained world-wide notoriety.
The TransPacific Yacht Race (Transpac), the Congressional Cup, the America’s Cup, the World Match Racing Tour, and the Whitbread Around the World Race (now know as The Ocean Race) all came to him for his journalistic expertise in representing their sailing events to the world.
Rich is survived by Frances, Lori, Rick, daughter-in-law Amy, granddaughter, grandson, four great-grandsons, two nieces, a nephew and a great-niece.