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Roebuck inducted in Cal U Hall of Fame

| Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008

While he was inducted into his collegiate alma mater's hall of fame for his commitment and success on the baseball field in the late 1980s, Scott "Skooter" Roebuck of Brownsville has become an exemplary educator, coach, and administrator for his scholastic alma mater.

Last month, Roebuck became the 21st baseball player to be inducted into California University of Pennsylvania's Hall of Fame, which accepted its first class in 1995. He appreciates the elite list he is joining and respects the school's rich baseball history.

The late Bruce Dal Canton of California, who won 51 Major League Baseball games and later was a longtime pitching coach, was part of the initial hall of fame class, while Rick Krivda, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Team, was inducted in 2002.

"I really did not think this would happen because I only played three seasons and my career numbers were not that high," Roebuck said. "This honor is really something because there were so many good players and they all have gone on to become good professionals and people."

Roebuck, who was a left-handed batter and right-handed thrower, was a three-year starting first baseman and catcher for the Vulcan baseball team from 1986 through 1988.

He transferred to California University from Division I Charleston Southern University. He practiced and traveled with the 1985 Vulcans, but could not play with the team that won the PSAC-West title that spring.

Once he was eligible, Roebuck made an immediate impact. He led the 1986 Vulcans in doubles (10), walks (21), home runs (seven) and runs batted in (40). He batted well over .300 his final two seasons, including a team-leading .372 during his 1988 senior season.

A first-team, all-conference and all-region selection, Roebuck helped the 1988 Vulcans win 23 games and 11 PSAC-West games. In addition to holding the team's top batting average, he also led California in doubles (14) and runs batted in (42).

In just three years playing under head coach and 2003 California University Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Gismondi, Roebuck compiled a .330 career batting average with 68 runs, 108 RBI, 29 doubles, six triples, 13 home runs and 52 walks. With his induction he joins teammates Jim Burns of Uniontown and Randy Wadsworth of California, who received their hall of fame honors in 2004 and 2007 respectively.

"He was a very big RBI producer and always came through in the clutch when we needed him," said Gismondi, a retired speech pathology professor who coached the Vulcans from 1980 through 1996. "He was just a pleasure to coach and when I was asked to go out and speak at clinics, I would take Skooter with me to be my demonstrator because he had that beautiful left-handed swing. Everybody liked and looked up to him. He was just an outstanding player."

Not so surprisingly, Roebuck praised Gismondi for giving him an opportunity to return from the South to southwestern Pennsylvania.

"When some things got difficult down south, he was the only guy that I considered calling," said Roebuck. "I had spoken to him when I was in high school but back then all of us wanted to go south to play baseball. So I asked if he would be interested and it only took that one call to get things rolling. He took care of everything and has been great. What he did for me meant a lot. He was always there for me."

Two decades have passed since Roebuck's baseball days at Cal but the memories of the times he spent with his teammates remain vivid. He labeled 1985 catcher Scott Nichols "a fantastic player" and marveled how Wadsworth would catch the first game of a doubleheader and play center field in the second game while batting leadoff in both games.

"I just thought we had a great group of guys and when I heard about making the hall of fame, I just thought of all of the other deserving guys because we had a lot of talent," Roebuck said.

Roebuck grew up in Brownsville and graduated in 1983 from Brownsville Area High School, where he was an all-county player in both baseball and football.

After earning his bachelor's degree in secondary education, Roebuck worked for a couple of years as a substitute teacher and for three seasons as an assistant football coach at Belle Vernon Area High School.

He returned to Brownsville Area High School and has been an economics teacher for 15 years. He has also been the Falcons' highly successful head baseball coach for 13 years and the school district athletic director for seven years.

Roebuck was an assistant football coach with Brownsville from 1994 through 2006. He helped the Falcons reach the 1997 WPIAL Class AAA football championship game and the 1998 Class AA semifinals.

The baseball team had a deep run in the state playoffs in 1997.

An active athletic administrator, Roebuck is vice president of the Interstate Football Conference and a member of the Tri-County Athletic Directors Association, as well as the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association. Mixing his teaching and coaching skills, he has published a popular article, "Make Baseball Practices Fun."

Roebuck has made a positive impact at Brownsville.

"He was a good coach that related well individually with the players," said John Moore, who was a pitcher and third baseman for the Falcons from 1997 through 2000 and was also taught a class by Roebuck.

"He was a disciplinarian on the field but that discipline extended beyond athletics," Moore said. "Skooter also expected his players, regardless of how good they were, to act accordingly off the field or they didn't play or worse. I've always respected him for that and he's a good guy."

After his collegiate playing days ended, Roebuck played baseball for nearly 15 years in the competitive summer Fayette County League. Always looking to improve in the classroom as well as on the field, Roebuck earned his master's degree in sport management from California University in 2006.

A scholar and an athlete, Roebuck believes his Cal U education paid off as much as his fine playing career did.

"I thought Cal was excellent and I never had a problem with any of the faculty members," he said. "They all treated you fairly. It was fantastic, and if I had to single one prof out, I suppose it would be good ole Doc (Thomas) Code from the history department. He was really something and I enjoyed his classes. The faculty most definitely prepared you well."

Gismondi is still pleased with the achievements of his 1987 and 1988 team captain.

"To me, he's what coaching was all about," Gismondi said. "You look at a guy like him that you coached who has done so well and kind of feel that you are part of his success. I look at Skooter with such pride every time I see his name in the paper for doing something good for Brownsville."

Roebuck and his wife, Andrea, are the parents of a 14-year-old daughter, Taylor, and a 12-year-old baseball-playing son, Shane.

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