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Max and Randy Roberts

Max Roberts, left, plays for Valparaiso. His dad, Randy, is the coach at Washington Township.

Washington Township hosted Valparaiso in a baseball game Monday.

In the third base dugout, there was Senators coach Randy Roberts. On the other side of home plate there was Vikings senior Max Roberts, his son.

"It was definitely a memory walking down there, seeing my brother (William) taking infield, my dad hitting grounders," Max said. "I've had all those guys at the house, watching games, playing bags, doing campfires. I see them all the time. It was pretty weird being in the visitor's dugout."

For all of their years spent in the game, on that specific diamond, it was one of only a handful of times Max had played at Senator Park. It was the first time the coach dad and player son had squared off.

"I didn't take any great joy in it," Randy said of Washington's 8-2 win. "I know all those (Valpo) boys, their parents."

No one other than Randy has put more time in on the field. The day before, Max spent six hours there working on it.

"I mowed the infield, the outfield, put clay on it, then went out and got beat on Monday," Max said.

Once the game started, both said their focus was solely on the game, Randy's so much so that Max drew a walk one at-bat before he even knew it was him.

Other than winter training, some Washington workouts that Max would attend and many a night talking or watching baseball, the two have been deeply involved in the same game at different places. They share an easy drawl and tall stature, but the personalities are as different as their schools. Max has an antagonistic way Randy said he gets from his grandpa and a calm demeanor he gets from his mom Anne.

"He doesn't have his dad's temper," Randy said. "Max was always pretty self-reliant. He was always out here from the time he was 2 years old. He's wasn't a kid who was looking for daddy in the stands. There are plenty of those. He's been his own man forever."

Max reminded him of that recently after he pitched against Lake Central.

"I made a few suggestions and I got the, 'I know how to pitch,'" Randy said. "He does. He knows what he's doing. I try to help, but not interfere."

This summer, Randy will coach William's travel team. Max has always played for somebody else, whether it was Valpo Americans Little League at the start or travel ball a few years later. All the while, Randy was coaching at Washington.

"He was fine with just going with the flow, letting other people coach me," Max said. "I'm more independent. I can get by without him. I still need to keep him around a little bit."

Maybe, just maybe, even more than Max wants to let on. After his freshman year at Valpo, Max said he expressed a desire to go to Washington. Both have thought about what the Senators, who have been to the semistate the last two years, could have done with Max in the pinstripes.

"It would have definitely been interesting to see what would have happened," Max said.

Max knows this much. With no disrespect to any other coach, nobody works harder than his dad's teams.

"I don't know how they put up wih him," he said with a laugh. "They love him. They'll have a doubleheader, then practice after. We had a game cancelled, they played five (innings) at Kouts, then practiced two-and-a-half hours. Kyle (Guenther) pitched against us Monday and was throwing on the mound the next day."

Randy believes they would have had a couple Class A state titles if Max was a Senator. Even so, he knew Max was better off for his baseball development as a Viking.

"He grew up with those (Valpo) boys," he said. "A big part of it is pitching in the Duneland (Athletic Conference), against the big boys. He made JV as a freshman and varsity as a sophomore and I had never spoken to the coach. He did it on his own. I'll always be proud of that. Now that it's over, I do have regrets, but they're selfish regrets. It was best for Max's dad for him to be here. It was best for Max to go there."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.