Wally Roettger (Trading Card DB)

Wally Roettger

This article was written by John J. Watkins

Wally Roettger (Trading Card DB)After the first game of a doubleheader against the visiting Chicago Cubs on July 4, 1928, rookie outfielder Wally Roettger of the St. Louis Cardinals was hitting a robust .341. In the second game, however, he dislocated his right ankle and broke both bones in his lower leg sliding into third base.1 The injury ended his season and altered the arc of his career.

Teammate Frankie Frisch opined that Roettger would have been a Hall of Famer had he not been hurt.2 Although he was not the same player after the injury, he hit .285 over seven full seasons, compiled a .986 fielding percentage that ranked second among outfielders of his era,3 and won a World Series ring with the 1931 Cardinals. When his playing days ended, Roettger returned to his alma mater, the University of Illinois, and coached the baseball team to four Big 10 championships. Among his players who went on to the major leagues was the Hall of Fame shortstop Lou Boudreau.

* * *

Walter Henry Roettger was born on August 28, 1902, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Gustave and Whilimina (Kuelker) Roettger, both of whose parents had immigrated from Germany. Gustave owned a small grocery store on the city’s north side, while his spouse, known as Minnie, took care of their home, a short walk from Sportsman’s Park. Walter, who was called Wally, was the fourth of their five children.4

Like his older brothers Elmer and Oscar, Wally grew up playing baseball. In addition to pickup games, they all played in the Walther Baseball League composed of Evangelical Lutheran church teams from North St. Louis. The Roettger family worshiped at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in their neighborhood, and the three brothers played for the Bethlehem team.5

Wally attended nearby Yeatman High School, where he was an all-around athlete: football end, basketball center, and dominant baseball pitcher.6 As a junior he set a city interscholastic record by striking out 22 in the course of a one-hit shutout,7 and the next year he threw a no-hitter.8 In his final game, he gave up a scratch infield single to the first batter and pitched no-hit ball the rest of the way, striking out 16.9 The summer after graduating, he played in the tough Municipal Baseball Association, helping his team to the playoffs and pitching a no-hitter in the first round.10 Earlier in the season he struck out 17 in a one-hit shutout, the only blemish a single by his brother Oscar.11

In the fall Roettger enrolled at the University of Illinois, where he played basketball and baseball. Although he once scored 22 points for the Illini basketball team in a 36-31 win over Ohio State,12 he starred in baseball under coach Carl Lundgren, an Illinois alumnus who had compiled a 91-55 record and 2.42 ERA in eight seasons with the Chicago Cubs.

Ineligible for the varsity as a freshman, Roettger proved to be “one of the best first year pitchers Illinois has had in many days.”13 He missed much of his sophomore season with a sore back and was able to pitch in only three games. One of them, however, was a 2⅔-inning relief stint in a critical win over Michigan en route to the Illini’s second consecutive Big 10 championship.14 In 1923, Roettger batted .409 to lead the team.15 Considered “a better outfielder than any on the squad,”16 he played center field when not pitching.17 The Illini, however, slipped to third in conference play.18 He captained the 1924 team,19 an inexperienced group that finished fifth in the Big 10.20

In May 1924 Roettger was awarded the Big 10 medal, given by each school in the conference to the senior athlete with the best scholastic record.21 He was recognized for this achievement at the university commencement in June, when he graduated from the College of Commerce with a Bachelor of Science degree in general business.22

The St. Louis Cardinals signed Roettger as an outfielder in July. Manager Branch Rickey, who had been following him since his high school days, told reporters that Roettger was touted by coach Lundgren as a better prospect than Otto Vogel, who the previous year went directly from Illinois to the Cubs.23 Roettger did not play baseball that summer; in November he was hired as head basketball coach at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois.24 He continued to coach at Wesleyan in the off-season throughout his professional baseball career, leading the team to four Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships.25

Roettger began the 1925 season with the Cardinals but saw no action. On May 1 he was optioned to Syracuse in the Double-A International League, the top club in the St. Louis farm system.26 He hit .275 in 129 games and played all three outfield positions for the sixth-place Stars. He became a fan favorite, in part by “turn[ing] in a flock of catches that bordered on the superhuman.”27

Roettger went to spring training with the Cardinals in 1926 but on March 19 was again optioned to Syracuse.28 As the club’s regular center fielder, he batted .305 in 130 games with 27 doubles and 15 home runs. Defensively, opponents came to respect his strong arm and ability to cover ground. Buffalo outfielder Jimmy Walsh once saw him “throw a strike” to the plate from deep center field,29 and Baltimore shortstop Joe Boley attested to his flychasing skills. “Nice fellow is Roettger,” Boley said, “but I wish he wouldn’t rob me of so many hits.”30 Roettger was also the center fielder on the Syracuse Herald’s International League all-star team chosen by six of the league’s eight managers31 and again a favorite among Syracuse fans.32

In 1927, Roettger opened the season with the Cardinals. With Chick Hafey in left, Taylor Douthit in center, and Billy Southworth in right, however, he had little chance to break into the lineup He appeared in two games before being sent back to the minors. His major-league debut, in a 12-4 over the Reds on May 1 at Sportsman’s Park, was not auspicious. With the Cardinals leading 10-1, he replaced Hafey in the top of the seventh. Facing Reds lefthander Jakie May the next inning, he grounded out to shortstop. In the ninth, he dropped a fly ball, allowing a run to score.33 On May 11, he was used as a pinch-runner in a loss to the Giants at the Polo Grounds.34

Optioned to Houston at the end of the month,35 Roettger made a splash in his first game when he scored from second base on an infield single.36 After watching him play for two months, the sports editor of the Houston Post-Dispatch, Lloyd Gregory, was impressed. “Wally Roettger certainly has been playing a sterling brand of baseball for the Bisons,” Gregory wrote. “This product of Illinois university has all the earmarks of a major league ball player.”37 After hitting .337 in 82 games at Houston, Roettger returned to St Louis after the Texas League season ended. He appeared in only three games, twice as a defensive replacement without coming to bat and once as a pinch-hitter, drawing a walk.

Because the Cardinals had optioned Roettger and Houston teammate Pepper Martin to the minors the previous two seasons, both players would be subject to the player draft if optioned again in 1928. But as Lloyd Gregory predicted, “the Cards will take no chances on these men getting away from them.”38 Both made the club. Martin spent most of the season on the bench, but Roettger was in the Opening Day lineup and stayed there until his season-ending injury on July 4. He started 66 games, divided equally between left and right field, and hit .341 in 68 games with 17 doubles, 6 home runs, 44 RBIs, and an .878 OPS.

Roettger’s performance in the season’s first game showed his promise as a player. Starting in left field in place of the injured Ray Blades, he went 2-for-4 and drove in five runs as the Cardinals pounded the defending champion Pirates 14-7. He doubled home two runs in the first inning, drove in another with a sacrifice fly in the third, and singled in the sixth for two more. On defense, he “roamed left field like a monster,” recording seven putouts that included a grab after a sprint into deep left center in the fifth inning that took an extra-base hit from Pittsburgh shortstop Glenn Wright.39

As noted, his season abruptly ended on July 4. The mishap came in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cubs at Sportsman’s Park. In the sixth inning, Roettger reached base on a single; when catcher Jimmie Wilson followed with a single to right field, he raced to third. Sliding into the bag, he dislocated his right ankle and suffered a compound fracture of both his tibia and fibula.40 “I knew that play was going to be close at third, and I attempted to run in line with the throw, hoping that the ball would hit me and permit me to score,” Roettger explained. “When I started to slide I was too close to the sack [and] did not get a good chance to hook the base. . . Something had to give – and it was my right leg.”41

On September 7, Roettger took batting practice with his teammates before a home game and said he hoped that manager Bill McKechnie would take him on the season’s final road trip, believing that he could help the club as a pinch-hitter.42 McKechnie demurred out of concern that Roettger would again be injured, perhaps permanently.43 After the Cardinals won the pennant, however, he included Roettger on the list of St. Louis players eligible for the World Series.44 The Associated Press described Roettger as “only nominally eligible” in light of his injury.45 He watched from the bench as the Yankees swept the Cardinals but collected a full loser’s share, $4,197.36.46

Roettger had a good spring training in 1929 and was the Opening Day starter in right field for the Cardinals at Cincinnati on April 16. He played the first three of four games against the Reds and went 3-for-12 – but noticeably favored his leg in the outfield. In the third game, he slipped and fell trying to make one catch; he also could not reach Hughie Critz’s fly ball down the line, which went for a triple and led to a run. “My ankle seems to tighten up on me at times,” Roettger said. “But I’m sure I’ll be all right in a few days.”47 However, he started only two of the next 27 games.

He returned to the lineup on May 23 against the visiting Cubs, playing left field in place of the injured Hafey, and the next day robbed Kiki Cuyler of an extra-base hit when he sprinted toward deep left center field. “If Roettger is bothered by the ankle fractured last July, he did not indicate as much,” observed one sportswriter.48 However, he saw duty primarily as a substitute for Hafey or one of the right fielders, Wattie Holm and Ernie Orsatti. His longest sustained action began July 20, when he started 21 of the Cardinals’ next 22 games in right field. During this stretch, he hit the only grand slam of his career in a 6-4 win over the Phillies.49

Roettger batted a disappointing .253 in 79 games while the Cardinals finished fourth in the league with a 78-74-2 record, 20 games out. Rickey, by then general manager, and owner Sam Breadon made changes. Gabby Street took over as the sixth St. Louis manager in as many years, and several players were released or traded. Just before the 1930 season got underway, the Cardinals sent Roettger to the Giants for infielder Doc Farrell and outfielder George “Showboat” Fisher. The Giants, with Edd Roush holding out, required a proven major-league outfielder, while the Cardinals needed infield help and were reportedly concerned about “the falling off in [Roettger’s] work following a broken leg which he suffered in July 1928.”50

Roettger started 111 games for the third-place Giants, 82 in center field, which he shared with Ethan Allen. In the “year of the hitter,”51 Roettger improved to a .283 average with 51 RBIs, the latter a career high. One of his best days at the plate came in the heat of the pennant race. On September 6 at Boston, he went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI in the second game of a doubleheader, helping the Giants pull within four games of first place.52

In August, Roettger played center field in the Giants’ first night game, an exhibition contest at Bridgeport, Connecticut, against their Eastern League farm team. The parent club won handily, 9-1, before a crowd of 10,000, but the visiting players were mostly unenthusiastic about baseball under the lights. Batters complained about picking up balls low in the strike zone, infielders could not easily gauge the hop on grounders, and outfielders had a difficult time judging fly balls. “They should take the shin guards away from the catcher and give them to the shortstop,” said Travis Jackson, the Giants shortstop. Roettger had another idea: equipping the outfielders with headgear.53

Roettger had a wry sense of humor and was known to pull a prank on an unsuspecting teammate. In 1930, one victim was Ethan Allen, who was treating his receding hairline with a white liquid dressing. One hot day Roettger and Mel Ott emptied the bottle and filled it with buttermilk. “I shook it on my head, went out to play and nearly smelled out the bench and the park,” Allen recalled years later. “Worse, the milk stiffened and when I tried to take off my cap, I nearly tore off the little fuzz I had left.”54

In late October, the Giants sold Roettger’s contract to the Cincinnati Reds. “Wally played fairly well but could not equal the form he displayed in 1928 before he broke his leg,” said the New York Evening Post’s report of the deal. “So it was a foregone conclusion he would depart this winter.”55 However, manager Dan Howley of the Reds believed that Roettger had “fully recovered” and would “return next year to the fine form of his college and early professional days.”56

The Reds got off to a terrible start; on May 7, their record stood at 2-15. But Roettger, who opened the season in right field, was leading the league in hitting with a .400 average.57 Ten days later, he was still in the top spot at .393.58 Inevitable slippage occurred over the next month, but on June 14 he was hitting .351 after 44 games, all of them starting assignments: 25 in right field, 17 in left, and two in center.

The next day, the Reds sent Roettger and cash, later reported to be $15,000,59 to the Cardinals for Taylor Douthit. Howley acknowledged that Roettger had been “playing great ball” but wanted to “inject a little more speed” into the Reds’ lineup; in his view the outfielder had “never fully recovered his speed” since breaking his leg.60 The Cardinals, on the other hand, had decided on Pepper Martin as their center fielder, and Douthit was “too good a ball player to put in a second-string job.”61 The Redbirds planned to use Roettger in a reserve role and to platoon with right fielder George Watkins, a left-handed hitter who lately had been struggling against southpaws.62

Roettger made his first start on June 22 at Philadelphia, going 3-for-5, all singles, against Jumbo Elliott in a 7-3 loss.63 He started 25 games in right field and also occasionally spelled Hafey in left field and Martin in center. In 45 games with the Cardinals, 35 as a starter, Roettger hit .285 with a .728 OPS, 12 doubles, two triples, and 17 RBI.

The Cardinals cruised to the pennant with a 101-53 record, 13 games ahead of the second-place Giants, and won the World Series in a rematch with the favored Philadelphia Athletics, dashing Connie Mack’s hopes of three consecutive championships. Roettger appeared in three World Series games, each time facing Lefty Grove, whose 31-4 record and 2.06 ERA led both leagues. He went 4-for-14 (.286) and turned in two sterling defensive plays, both in the sixth game. In the third inning, Roettger made “a leaping one-hand stab” of Max Bishop’s line drive.64 An inning later, he “slid along the ground and sommersaulted [sic] while snaring Al] Simmons’ low fly.”65 His winner’s share was $4,484.25, a nice payday as the Great Depression took hold.66

Apart from the money, Roettger was surely pleased with his season. Overall, he batted .321 in 89 games, his best performance since 1928 and far above the .277 league average that plummeted as a result of a deadened ball and elimination of the sacrifice fly from the scoring rules.67 On December 19, however, the Cardinals shipped him back to the Reds in a straight cash transaction.68 In effect, Cincinnati had loaned him to St. Louis for the latter half of the 1931 season.

In 1932, the Reds finished last for the second straight year. Roettger split time in left field with Chick Hafey, who was traded to Cincinnati amid a rancorous contract dispute with the Cardinals. Douthit and Estel Crabtree were the center fielders, and Babe Herman handled the right corner. In one game against St. Louis, the three former Cardinals were in the outfield together: Hafey in left, Douthit in center, Roettger in right. Roettger had three hits, Hafey belted a triple, and Douthit added a single, but the Reds lost to the visitors, 4-2.69 Roettger hit .277 in 106 games and on defense committed only two errors in 95 games.

Roettger was relegated to a utility role in 1933 under new manager Donie Bush. He started 45 games, occasionally pinch-hit, and batted a career-low .239 as the Reds again finished last. In November, they traded him to Pittsburgh in a muli-player transaction. During the 1934 season Roettger was again a utility outfielder , primarily filling in for Freddie Lindstrom in left field. He started only 18 games and appeared in 29 others, hitting 245 in 109 plate appearances.

Illinois baseball coach Carl Lundgren died of a heart attack on August 21, 1934.70 In early October, the search for his successor had reportedly narrowed to four candidates: Roettger; George Sisler, the former Browns star first baseman who had a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Michigan; Eppa Rixey, the longtime Cincinnati pitcher with degrees in chemistry and Latin from the University of Virginia; and Ted Lyons, a White Sox pitcher whose B.A. degree was from Baylor University.71

On October 20, Roettger was appointed to succeed Lundgren.72 “The combination of experience in college and big league baseball which Wally Roettger has had should fit him admirably for the position as Illinois baseball coach,” said athletic director George Huff. “Big league executives under whom he played recommend him highly in every way.” For his part, Roettger credited his former college coach. “Whatever success in baseball I have attained has been chiefly due to the teaching of Carl Lundgren,” he said.73

Roettger ended his major-league career with a .285 batting average and .711 OPS. As mentioned at the outset, his lifetime fielding percentage as an outfielder ranks second among players of his era. In the opinion of Bob Broeg, longtime sports editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch it was more than 40 years before the Cardinals had another player – Reggie Smith – with a comparable throwing arm in right field.74

In September 1935, Roettger married Marjorie Barackman of Streator, Illinois, who had been employed as a bookkeeper at a Chicago bank.75 The same month, he assumed an additional role as assistant basketball coach at the university. He held that position until 1949, when he became assistant athletic director while remaining head baseball coach. In addition, he was an associate professor in the department of physical education.76

Maintaining a link to major-league baseball, Roettger was for several years the principal instructor at a summer baseball program that the Chicago Cubs launched in 1940 for boys too old for American Legion ball but not yet mature enough for professional baseball. The 11-week session was free, with all expenses paid. Roettger was assisted by members of the Cubs’ staff.77 Other major-league teams established similar programs.78

In Roettger’s 17 seasons as the Illinois baseball coach, his teams won four Big 10 championships and finished second three times while posting a 116-60-4 record in conference play. Overall, the Illini had a 212-110-7 record during his tenure.79 In addition to Lou Boudreau, players from his teams who went on to the major leagues include Hoot Evers, Ray Poat, Joe Astroth, Howie Judson, and Herb Plews.

His most accomplished season, in retrospect, was 1951. The Illini finished second in the Big 10 with an 8-3 record, but that is not the point. Roettger oversaw his team while he was dying.

Only his family and a few friends knew. Among them was T.O. White, a sportswriter for a local newspaper, the Champaign News-Gazette. Roettger “drove himself relentlessly to remain with his last team when his whole body cried for surrender,” White later wrote. “He fought back fiercely at the nagging illness from which he feared, and others knew, there was no recovery.”80

The illness was malignant hypertension, a term then used to describe extremely high blood pressure marked by failing vision, overwhelming fatigue, and devastatingly painful headaches. In the era before development of antihypertensive drugs, the disease was typically fatal within a year of diagnosis.81 There was a history of hypertension and heart problems in Roettger’s family. His father died of coronary thrombosis at age 60, and his brother Elmer was 51 when he died in 1947 from chronic hypertension and heart disease.82

On May 30, the Illini played their last baseball game of the season, losing 5-3 to an Army squad from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, that included some former major-leaguers.83 By the fall, Roettger’s health had seriously deteriorated; the disease had ravaged his eyesight, leaving him with only 15 percent of his vision. On September 14, he took his own life.84

Roettger was 49 years old. He was survived by his wife, Marjorie, and their two children, Margaret and Walter; his older brother Oscar, who was a representative for Rawlings Sporting Goods Company after retiring from professional baseball; and his younger brother Harold, a protégé of Branch Rickey then working for the Pittsburgh Pirates.85 Both children went on to careers in higher education. Margaret Roettger Menhenett taught English and later was an administrator at the University of Victoria in Canada. Walter Barackman Roettger held several faculty and administrative positions before serving for more than a decade as president of Lyon College, a liberal arts school in Arkansas.86

Funeral services were held on the University of Illinois campus before interment at Riverview Cemetery in Streator, Illinois, his wife’s hometown.87 Boudreau, then playing for the Red Sox, had chartered a plane to attend the funeral, but Marjorie Roettger urged him to stay with the team, then in the thick of the pennant race. He instead sent a telegram with a simple tribute: “Wally was my source of greatest encouragement and inspiration.”88



This biography was reviewed by Brian Wood and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Larry DeFillipo. The author also would like to thank Cassidy Lent, manager of reference services at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Giamatti Research Center, for her assistance.



In addition to the sources cited in the notes, the author relied on Retrosheet.org, Baseball-Reference.com, and Walter Roettger’s player file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.



1 “Ankle Fracture Will Keep Roettger Out for Remainder of Season,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 5, 1928: 13.

2 Frank Frisch with J. Roy Stockton, Frank Frisch: The Fordham Flash (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1962), 115.

3 Only Johnny Cooney’s .988 is higher. Everyone ahead of them on the Baseball-Reference.com list of career leaders debuted after 1940. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/fielding_perc_of_career.shtml.

4 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census; Dick Kaegel, “Oscar Roettger’s Motto: Have Glove will Travel,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 11, 1969: 21.

5 “Roettger Twirls Brilliant Game in Walther League,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 10, 1916: 11 (referring to “Oscar Roettger, the sensational young pitcher”; Elmer was in left field); “Pilgrims Win from Bethlehems, 7-2; Grace Beats Mt. Calvary, 11-3,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 20, 1917: 6 (noting that pitcher “Walter Roettger . . . was in fine form” but that errors “ruined all chance of victory”).

6 “Yeatman Opposes Central in Prep Headliner,” St. Louis Star, November 28, 1918: 14 (football); “Schlapprizzi Earns Fame by Throwing Goal Which Gains Victory, 29-27,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 16, 1919: 13 (basketball); “Roettger Allows Three Hits,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 6, 1917: Part 4, 1 (three-hitter as freshman). Roetter was named to the city all-star team in 1917, 1918, and 1920. There apparently was no team chosen in 1919. “4 M’Kinley Men Given Positions on All-Star Nine,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 15, 1917: 18; “Yeatman Players Awarded 4 Places on All-Star Team,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 17, 1918: 18; “Cleveland Lands Three Places on ‘All-Star’ Nine,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 3, 1920: 26.

7 “Roettger Yields Only One Hit and Fans 22 Batters,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 11, 1919: Part 4, 8.

8 “Roettger Hurls No-Hit Contest,” St. Louis Star, May 29, 1920: 9.

9 James H. Higgs, “Soldan Defeats Central in Poorly Played Game for League Title, 11-5,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 30, 1920: 13.

10 James H. Higgs, “Roettger Pitches No-Hit Contest for Overlands in Muny Elimination Series,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 5, 1920: 13.

11 “Roettger Yields Only One Safety and Whiffs 17 in Municipal Game,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 19, 1920: 13.

12 “Fight in Overtime Gives Illini 36-31 Win Over Ohio,” Daily Illini (Urbana-Champaign, Illinois), January 9, 1923): 1.

13 “Illini Hurlers Fight for Places,” Daily Pantagraph (Blommington, Illinois), January 17, 1922: 10 (erroneously stating Roettger’s first name as “Walker”); see also “Roettger Pitching Gives Colts Scare,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), April 7, 1921: 3 (describing Roettger as “freshman pitching ace”).

14 “Indians Hammer Michigan for 7-3 Victory,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), May 21, 1922: 1; “Illinois Nine Wins Big Ten Baseball Title,” Minneapolis Tribune, May 30, 1922: 11; “Fighting Illini Baseball: Year-by-Year Records,” https://fightingillini.com/sports/2015/10/15/Baseball_YearByYear.aspx, accessed September 18, 2022.

15 Mike Pearson, Illini Legends, Lists & Lore: 100 Years of Big Ten Heritage (Champaign, Illinois: Sagamore Publishing, 1995), 67.

16 “Lundgren Shifts Men, Pulling Vogel to First,” Decatur (Illinois) Herald, March 30, 1923: 20.

17 Joe Godfrey, Jr., “Illini Team Humbles Tulane Nine With Shut-Out, 3 to 0,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), April 5, 1923: 8 (pitcher); “Illinois Nine Wades to Victory 7 to 0 in Big Ten Opener,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), April 15, 1923: 1 (center field); Walter Eckersall, “Powerful Illini Bump Off Green Maroon Nine, 6 to 0,” Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1923: 25 (pitched first three innings, moved to center field).

18 “Fighting Illini Baseball: Year-by-Year Records.”

19 “Wallie Roettger Elected to Lead Lundy’s Ball Team Next Year,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), May 26, 1923: 1.

20 “Lundymen Close Season by Bowing to Wolverines, 6-2,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), May 25, 1924: 7; “Fighting Illini Baseball: Year-by-Year Records.”

21 “Roettger Wins Big Ten Medal,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), May 14, 1924: 6.

22 “1349 Students to Get Their Degrees Today,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), June 9, 1924: 1; “87 Scholastic Honors to Go to Graduates,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), June 9, 1924: 2.

23 “Walter Roettger, Star at Illinois, Signed by Cards,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 20, 1924: 14.

24 “Wallie Roettger New Cage Coach,” Daily Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois), November 13, 1924: 10.

25 “Illinois Wesleyan ‘Little 19’ Championships,” https://www.iwusports.com/sports/2015/12/10/GEN_1210155157.aspx?id=332, accessed September 18, 2022.

26 “Cards Release Roettger,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 1, 1925: 39; Roettger player contract card, The Sporting News, https://digital.la84.org/digital/collection/p17103coll3/id/92368/rec/4, accessed September 28, 2022.

27 “Stars of 1926: No. 11 – Walter Henry Roettger,” Syracuse Journal, April 5, 1926: 11.

28 “Cardinals Release Four Players to Minor League Clubs,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 20, 1926: 11; Roettger player contract card.

29 Bob Kenefick, “Behind the Screen,” Syracuse Journal, July 10, 1926: 8.

30 Bob Kenefick, “On the Sport Firing Line,” Syracuse Journal, August 8, 1926: 8.

31 Lawrence J. Skiddy, “Managers of League Give Syracuse Three Places on All-Star Combine,” Syracuse Herald, September 19, 1926: 12.

32 Bob Kenefick, “On the Sport Firing Line,” Syracuse Journal, July 7, 1926: 11.

33 Martin J. Haley, “Cardinals Celebrate May Day by Submerging Reds, 12 to 4,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 2, 1927: 10.

34 Herman Wecke, “Giants Beat Cards, 10-1; Hornsby Big Star,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 11, 1927: 17.

35 “Cards Transfer Dyer to Syracuse and Roettger to Houston,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 1, 1927: 22; Roettger player contract card.

36 Lloyd Gregory, “Rain Stops 3-3 Buff-Bear Contest,” Houston Post-Dispatch, June 6, 1927: 6.

37 “Looking ‘em Over with Lloyd Gregory,” Houston Post-Dispatch, August 2, 1927: 10.

38 “Looking ‘em Over with Lloyd Gregory,” Houston Post-Dispatch, January 7, 1928: sec. 2, 3.

39 Martin J. Haley, “Cardinals Produce Storm of Base Hits to Defeat Pirates, 14 to 7,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 12, 1928: 12.

40 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 5, 1928.

41 “Roettger, Now Radio Fan, Says Cards Do Not Need Him to Capture Pennant,” St. Louis Times, undated clipping from Roettger’s player file, National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

42 “Sherdel Will Oppose Carmen Hill Today in Third Game of Series,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 8, 1928: 18.

43 “Roettger Wants to Aid Cards in Big Push,” Pittsburgh Press, September 17, 1928: 29.

44 “Eligibles for Cardinals and Yankees in 1928 World Series,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 30, 1928: 1S.

45 “Twenty-Five Men Eligible for Play,” Indianapolis Star, September 30, 1928: 42.

46 “Each Cardinal to be Given $4,197.36 for Series Share,” St. Louis Star, October 10, 1928: 16.

47 Ray J. Gillespie, “Rain Postpones Cards’ Opening Game in Chicago,” St. Louis Star, April 20, 1929: sec. 2, 1.

48 Martin J. Haley, “Cards Outhit, Outslug and Outwalk Cubs – Then Lose Out, 5-4,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 25, 1929: 21.

49 Martin J. Haley, “Homers by Roettger and Wilson Enable Cards to Beat Phils, 6-4,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 25, 1929: 9.

50 “Cards Trade Roettger to Giants for Farrell and Fisher,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 10, 1930: 2C.

51 Ray Zardetto, ’30: Baseball’s Year of the Batter (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2008); William B. Mead, Two Spectacular Seasons (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1990).

52 John Drebinger, “Giants Win Twice; Lindstrom Injured,” New York Times, September 7, 1930: sec. 11, 1.

53 Homer Thorne, “Giants Don’t Like Playing Baseball Under Arc Lights,” New York Evening Post, August 7, 1930: 12.

54 Bob Broeg, “NCAA Warms Up; Ethan Allen, Baseball Coaches in Vanguard Here,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 6, 1957: 4G.

55 “Roettger, Fitzgerald Sold by Giants to Reds for Cash,” New York Evening Post, October 29, 1930: 16.

56 Jack Ryder, “Reds Buy Two Players,” Cincinnati Enquirer, October 30, 1930: 15.

57 “Leading Hitters in Both Leagues,” Cincinnati Enquirer, May 8, 1931: 19.

58 “Leaders Fatten Marks,” Cincinnati Enquirer, May 18, 1931: 10.

59 “Wally Comes Back to Reds,” Cincinnati Post, December 19, 1931: 7.

60 Jack Ryder, “Douthit to be Red Player; Roettger Goes to St. Louis; Giants to Close Here Today,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 16, 1931: 11.

61 Walter W. Smith, “Cards Trade Douthit for Roettger,” St. Louis Star, June 15, 1931: sec. 2, 1.

62 Sam Muchnick, “Douthit Traded to Reds for Roettger,” St. Louis Times, June 15, 1931: sec. 2, 1; “Sid Keener’s Column,” St. Louis Star, June 16, sec. 2, 4.

63 Martin J. Haley, “Phils’ Slugging Beats Cards, 7-3,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 23, 1931: 16.

64 Maurice O. Shevlin, “Sidelights of the Game,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 10, 1931: 14.

65 Martin Haley, “Cards’ Hopes to Win Title up to Grimes,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 10, 1931: 1.

66 “$4,484.25 for Each Card, A’s Share Nets $2,989.50,” The Sporting News, October 15, 1931: 1.

67 Charles C. Alexander, Breaking the Slump: Baseball in the Depression Era (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 37-38.

68 Official Bulletin No. 34, Office of the Commissioner of Baseball (December 29, 1931), 1; Jack Ryder, “Back Home Comes Wally Roettger,” Cincinnati Enquirer, December 19, 1931: 13.

69 Jack Ryder, “Hallahan Outhurls Lucas and Reds Crash to Seventh Place,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 26, 1932: 11.

70 “Lundgren, Baseball Coach at Illinois, Dies,” Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1934: 19.

71 “Roettger in Line as Illini Coach,” Pittsburgh Press, October 10, 1934: 26.

72 “Roettger Named Coach of Illini Baseball Squad,” Chicago Tribune, October 21, 1934: sec. 2, 4; John Schacht, “Board of Trustees Appoints Roettger Baseball Coach,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), October 21, 1934: 6.

73 “An Illini Man Returns,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), October 21, 1934: 4.

74 Bob Broeg, “Reggie the Rifle – Top Bird Arm in Right Field in 40 Years,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 10, 1974: 2B.

75 “Simple Rites Mark Marriage in Evanston,” Streator (Illinois) Times-Press, September 13, 1935: 7.

76 “Roettger, Braun Promoted to New Positions in Athletic Department,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), September 15, 1949, sec. 3, 5; “Caught on the Fly,” The Sporting News, July 6, 1949: 16. Roettger first coached the freshman team, also scouting opponents for the varsity, and moved to the varsity for the 1939-40 season. During his tenure as a varsity assistant, the Illini won three conference titles (1942, 1943, and 1949) and placed third in the NCAA tournament in 1949. Ted Duffield, “Ted-Bits of Sports News,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), September 8, 1935: 6; Perry Blain, “The 5th Estate,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), February 24, 1938: 6; “List Illini Coaches for Next Year; Gill Leaves,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), June 12, 1939: 8; “Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball History,” https://fightingillini.com/sports/2021/4/30/mens-basketball-history.aspx, accessed September 28, 2022.

77 “Cubs Launch Boys’ Baseball School Here June 17,” Chicago Daily News, June 3, 1940: 18. “Cubs to Train Youths; Free Baseball Camp at Chicago to Be Headed by Roettger,” New York Times, June 4, 1940: 30. Roettger’s work with the Cubs continued at least through 1946. “Roettger Heads Cubs’ Camp,” The Sporting News, June 14, 1945: 12; “Major Flashes – National League,” The Sporting News, July 24, 1946: 27.

78 Bill Davidson, “Baseball Goes to School,” American Legion Magazine, vol. 30, no. 5 (May 1941): 26.

79 “Fighting Illini Baseball: Year-by-Year Records.”

80 “Wally Roettger Fought as True Fighting Illini,” Champaign (Illinois) News-Gazette, undated clipping in Roettger’s player file, National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

81 Mary F. Schottstaedt, M.D., and Mauricen Sokolow, M.D., “The Natural History and Course of Hypertension with Papilledema (Malignant Hypertension),” American Heart Journal, vol. 45. no. 3 (March 1953): 331-362.

82 Death certificates of Gustave C. Roettger (1926) and Elmer A. Roettger (1947), Missouri Department of Health, available on Ancestry.com.

83 “Illini Face Ex-Big Leaguers in Season’s Finale Today,” Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois), May 30, 1951: 5; “Thurlby’s Single Beats Illini for Army Nine, 5-3,” Chicago Tribune, May 31, 1951: sec. 4, 5.

84 “Wally Roettger, Illinois Coach, Ends Life,” Chicago Tribune, September 15, 1951: sec. 2, 1.

85 “Wally Roettger Dies at 49; Developed College Stars,” The Sporting News, September 26, 1951: 15.

86 University of Victoria Calendar 1969-1970, 107; University of Victoria Calendar 1993-1994, 36; Amy Widner, “Walter Roettger – President Came to Lyon for Challenge, Leaves with Successes,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock), March 1, 2009: 126.

87 “Last Rites for Roettger Held in Champaign,” Chicago Tribune, September 18, 1951: sec. 3, 3; “Tribute Paid Roettger in Final Rites,” Champaign News-Gazette, undated clipping in Roettger’s player file, National Baseball Hall of Fame Library; “Roettger is Buried Here,” Streator (Illinois) Times-Press, September 18, 1951: 4. Marjorie Roettger was buried alongside him after her death. “Obituaries – Marjorie Roettger, 1905-1985,” Streator (Illinois) Times-Press, January 28, 1985: 3.

88 The Sporting News, September 26, 1951.

Full Name

Walter Henry Roettger


August 28, 1902 at St. Louis, MO (USA)


September 14, 1951 at Champaign, IL (USA)

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