Mike Roarke

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Mike Roarke
File:Roake1988.jpg
Roarke as the Cardinals' pitching coach, 1988
Catcher
Born: (1930-11-08) November 8, 1930 (age 87)
West Warwick, Rhode Island
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 19, 1961, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1964, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
Batting average .230
At bats 491
Hits 113
Teams

Michael Thomas Roarke (born November 8, 1930) is a retired American catcher and coach in Major League Baseball. During his player days he threw and batted right-handed, stood 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and weighed 195 pounds (88 kg).

Born in West Warwick, Rhode Island, Roarke graduated from West Warwick High School in 1948 and earned a B.Sc. degree in history at Boston College, where he captained the Eagles' football and baseball teams. He won the Scanlan Award in 1951 for outstanding ability in scholarship, leadership, and athletic ability.

Minor-league apprenticeship

Like his college teammate, future MLB utilityman and manager Joe Morgan, Roarke signed with the local National League club, the Boston Braves, in 1952. After a brief stint with the Braves' Evansville farm club in the Class B Three-I League, Roarke entered the military, effectively delaying his professional debut until 1954.

Known as a good handler of pitchers and an excellent defensive catcher, Roarke struggled as a hitter, eclipsing a .250 batting average only three times in his seven-year minor league career. The Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee just before the 1953 season, employed one of the best and most durable catchers of the 1950s, eight-time National League All-Star Del Crandall, and were also one of the era's deepest and strongest Major League clubs. They never called Roarke up from Triple-A.

Tigers' second-string catcher

Finally, after the 1959 season, Roarke was traded to the Detroit Tigers in a deal that included Charley Lau. He toiled one further season, 1960, in the minors (with the Denver Bears of the American Association) before finally making his Major League debut with the Tigers at age 30 on April 19, 1961. He spent four seasons (1961–1964) as Detroit's second-string receiver, working behind Dick Brown, Gus Triandos and Bill Freehan. In 194 total games, Roarke batted .230 with six home runs and 44 runs batted in.

Bullpen and pitching coach

He retired as an active player on October 9, 1964, to become a bullpen coach with the Tigers (1965–66) and California Angels (1967–69). Roarke then transitioned from bullpen coach to pitching coach—one of the handful of former catchers who excelled at being a pitching coach. He returned to the Tigers in 1970 as the replacement for high-profile mound tutor Johnny Sain for one season.

Then, after a seven-year stint (1971–77) as a minor league manager and roving minor league pitching instructor, Roarke served as a pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals (where he worked on two NL pennant winners—1985 and 1987—under Whitey Herzog), San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, retiring after the strike-shortened 1994 season. He also spent three seasons as pitching coach of the 1981–1983 Pawtucket Red Sox of the International League, working with his old college classmate, Morgan, during his first two years with Pawtucket.

See also

References

  • Howe News Bureau, 1982 Boston Red Sox Organization Book

External links

Preceded by
Wayne Blackburn
Detroit Tigers Bullpen Coach
1965–1966
Succeeded by
Hal Naragon
Preceded by
Jack Paepke
California Angels Bullpen Coach
1967–1969
Succeeded by
Norm Sherry
Preceded by
Johnny Sain
Detroit Tigers Pitching Coach
1970
Succeeded by
Art Fowler
Preceded by
Barney Schultz
Chicago Cubs Pitching Coach
1978–1980
Succeeded by
Les Moss
Preceded by
Hub Kittle
St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Coach
1984–1990
Succeeded by
Joe Coleman
Preceded by
Pat Dobson
San Diego Padres Pitching Coach
1991–1993
Succeeded by
Sonny Siebert
Preceded by
Rich Gale
Boston Red Sox Pitching Coach
1994
Succeeded by
John Cumberland