Best Tattoos in Local Sports (2011)

Ryan Roberts, Arizona Diamondbacks infielder

Ryan Roberts is a hustler who makes his teammates better. His manager, Kirk Gibson, calls him a "gamer," which, coming from the ultimate gamer, is a huge compliment. Finally a starter at third base this season (he's adept at all infield and outfield positions), he hit 13 home runs and batted a respectable .245. But what we want to talk about here are the 30-year-old's tattoos. Many big leaguers hide their tats beneath long-sleeve T-shirts, but not Roberts. He has at least 30, including one that crawls up the left side of his neck. His arms and hands are sleeved with them. It's said he's running out of skin for tattoos, and in preparation for a possible career as a tattoo artist when he's done with big-league baseball, he's even personally put two on himself: imprints of his young daughter's feet on the tops of his own. He says his "only the strong survive" tattoo has kept him plugging away at the game he loves, even after limited playing time and a demotion to the minors in previous seasons. In what must have been either a nightmare or a religious experience for his mother, he got his first tattoo when he was 18: a cross with a crown of thorns. A family man all the way, guardian angels representing his grandparents adorn his shoulders, and the elaborate aforementioned neck tat signifies "family" in Chinese characters. The tattoos we know about don't seem to symbolize anything fearsome, but all that ink must scare opposing pitchers to death. His nickname among teammates and fans: "Tatman," natch.


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