JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 8, 2017) – East Tennessee State University alumnus Dr. Daniel Roberts handles chaos fairly well. As an assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist working in Major League Baseball, he pretty much has no choice but to expect the unexpected. Roberts will be the first to tell you, though, that this past month has been “crazy,” even by his standards.
A 2008 graduate of ETSU’s physical therapy program, Roberts currently works with the Houston Astros, a team that on Nov. 1, won the World Series in dramatic fashion against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It has been all about trying to keep everyone healthy throughout this thing,” Roberts said during a phone interview earlier this week from his home in Houston. “We played 180 games this season and by that last series, everybody was running on fumes.”
The Astros played the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs, beating the Red Sox three games to one in the best-of-five American League Division Series. The American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees would prove to be more difficult.
“We had to play seven games against New York,” Roberts said. “That last game, we knew if we lost we had to go home and if we won, we had to pack up all of our medical stuff really quick and hop on a plane to go to Los Angeles for the World Series.”
A 4-0 victory had the team flying cross country to arrive in Los Angeles for Game 1 of the World Series. It was a championship series the required all seven games for the Astros to finally claim victory.
“It was a very surreal experience, winning the World Series,” Roberts said. “There are no words to truly describe it. We’re right there in the clubhouse with those guys as part of the celebration. Seeing our guys succeed at what they love is amazing.”
Roberts started with the Astros in 2011, working for five years with the organization’s minor league team in Florida as a rehab coordinator before being called up to the major league two years ago.
Beginning with spring training each February, Roberts works daily with those team members suffering from injuries. “But I also work with the normal 25 or so guys who are out there playing every day,” Roberts explained. “We provide them with treatment, corrective exercises, things like that. It is super hectic and all over the place.”
Roberts travels with the team and said he considers the players “family” because of all the time they spend together. He was right alongside his “family” on Nov. 3 as the Astros returned home and took part in a parade in downtown Houston.
“It was unbelievable. There had to be 750,000, maybe a million, people there, cheering for the team. We were all on buses and firetrucks,” Roberts said. “With all that has gone on in Houston this year – the hurricane, the flooding – it was such a cool experience to see so many people come out and support the team. It was such a boost for the city.”
Next spring, Roberts will receive a World Series Championship ring as a member of the Houston Astros. The ring, however, may have to be shipped to him. Adding to the chaos of the past month, Roberts recently accepted a position as an assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist with the Memphis Grizzlies.
“That is home for my wife and it is only three hours from my hometown in Kentucky,” Roberts said. “It is an opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up so we are busy packing are things and getting ready to move.”
Roberts’ wife, Rachel, is also an alum of ETSU’s physical therapy program. The couple met while attending ETSU.