Hunter Pence does not play baseball for the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers.
The 32-year-old outfielder suits up for the San Francisco Giants; so if you’re taking in a Panthers game, don’t be deceived.
It’s not Pence on McAndrew Field – it’s M-CHS senior Ian Roberson.
But the two do look similar.
They have similar builds and features – although Pence is taller – but it’s Roberson’s beard that most resembles the major leaguer.
“I’ve actually had that since about eighth grade summer, for summer ball,” he said. “Then this last year after Christmas I started growing it out.”
Roberson said he was encouraged by teammates to grow out the bristles, and at its peak, his face-sweater was a sight to behold.
Think Duck Dynasty meets James Harden.
“All the guys give him heck about it,” said M-CHS head coach Travis Greenlee.
Entering his fourth year at the helm, Greenlee has coached Roberson since his freshman year, adding, “He’s full-speed all the time, gives you everything he’s got, and he’s a great kid.”
And of course, Greenlee also got a kick out of Roberson’s beard.
“I’ve got a picture in my mind from the game when he had the inside-the-park home run,” he recalled chuckling. “He came in and slid and just red dirt filled in all over his face and all you could see was the white of his eyes behind the beard and the red dirt. I’ll remember that forever.”
He may have to reminisce on the beard, because Roberson recently trimmed it, and he’s unsure whether or not he’ll unleash the locks once more.
“I don’t know,” he said laughing. “My mom doesn’t want me to. She just thought it was a mess that needed to be cut off.”
But for now, the M-CHS senior is focused on growth on the field, not his face.
“I’ve seen some growth, obviously in some of the younger guys stepped up for the team,” he said. “And some of the older guys, we’ve played together, so we know what to expect from each other.”
After starting the season with five straight losses, the Panthers have rattled off three consecutive wins against Pagosa Springs and Dove Creek.
And Roberson is catching fire.
Post beard-trim, the senior went 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBIs in a 21-8 win over the Pirates, and was a combined 5-for-8 with five runs and seven RBIs in double-header wins over Dove Creek last week.
Leading M-CHS in hits (13) and RBIs (14) – and second in runs scored (11) – Roberson and the Panthers will look to continue their hot-streak as they begin league play against Durango in an away contest today at 4 p.m.