“It is hard to keep me out of the game when I’m in shape to play. I play the game because I love it.” – Mike Roach, March 17, 1910, age 401
From amateur teams in Renovo, Pennsylvania, to the major leagues with the Washington Senators, Mike Roach’s life was a North American baseball odyssey. He played with 15 different teams over 17 professional seasons. He was a gamer, always in the middle of the action, a team leader, an instigator, a storyteller, a gentleman, and well respected by his peers and the sportswriters. He was a tough and durable catcher in an era of minimal protective gear.
Michael Stephen Roach was born in Driftwood, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1869.2 Driftwood is located about 80 miles due west of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He was the fifth of six sons born to William and Bridget Kane Roach. Both of his parents had immigrated from Ireland about 20 years earlier. All the brothers were successful. Of the six, two became professional baseball players, two became doctors, and two were businessmen and local politicians.
At the time of Michael Roach’s birth, his father and his uncle, John Kane, were proprietors of the Grant House, a hotel in Driftwood.3 In 1878, when he was about nine, the Roach family moved to Renovo, 30 miles east of Driftwood. His father became the Renovo tax collector and a respected member of the community. His extended family were prosperous leaders of Renovo. In 1887, Mike’s older brother John Roach, a pitcher, was signed by the New York Giants.4 Though John played in only one major-league game for the Giants, he played 20 seasons in multiple cities throughout the United States and Canada.
Meanwhile, Mike Roach was tearing up amateur and semiprofessional ball in central Pennsylvania. An 1895 profile in the Pennsylvania Grit describes his early years. “Mr. Roach began his baseball career when quite young. It was not long until he developed into one of the finest backstops in central Pennsylvania. In 1889, 1890, and 1891 when the Renovo Actives were slaughtering everything that came their way, ‘Mike’ was the hero in almost all the games that he took part in. He, with pitcher John Barnett, constituted the battery . . . and established themselves a record that has been the means of securing constant [baseball] employment ever since.”5
Roach and Barnett occasionally freelanced, joining other teams as hired guns. They would link up with other semipro teams, some as far away as Buffalo, receiving as much as $35 for their appearances.6 In March 1892, both Roach and Barnett were tendered offers by the Macon Central City, Georgia team of the Class B Southern League. In Macon, it was reported, “Already, the players throughout the country are holding up their hands for places and Macon has knocked down some good ones. Those now signed are the battery of Mike Roach and John Barnett of Pennsylvania.”7 Roach, then 22, left for Macon on April 6 and his odyssey began. Barnett had second thoughts and decided to continue to play for the Actives.8
In Roach’s first professional game on April 10, he received rave reviews. “Catcher Roach, who was behind the bat through the nine innings yesterday . . . is to make it short, a dandy. Roach weighs in his uniform 165 pounds, is well-knit, and is as hard as a rock.”9 By mid-May, Macon’s record was 6-20. The manager was fired. Roach obtained his release and signed with Reading of the Pennsylvania State League.10 However, due to financial problems, the Reading team disbanded in late July.11 Soon, Roach was back with the Renovo Actives.12 In September, he joined with his brother John as batterymates in a game against Williamsport. John Roach had just returned from playing the 1892 season for the Los Angeles Seraphs.13
On March 10, 1893, it was reported that “Michael Roach of Renovo, who was catcher and captain of the Reading club last year, had written to persons here offering to invest in the team.”14 On March 18 Roach traveled to Reading with the intent to purchase the team.15 The deal was never finalized. This was not the only time Roach tried to purchase a team.
Roach did not play professional ball in 1893. In the spring, he was one of the founders of the River League, made up of the Susquehanna River towns of Williamsport, Tyrone, Bellefonte, Lock Haven, Bloomsburg, and Renovo.16 Roach was the catcher and manager of the Renovo team.17 With Roach at the helm, Renovo won the championship.18 This was the River League’s only year of existence.
In March 1894, it was reported that Roach would join the Binghamton Bingos of the Class A Eastern League. His former teammate, John Barnett, was on Binghamton’s roster.19 However, a few days before Roach was to leave, he received a letter telling him that his services would not be required.20 He soon caught on with the Pawtucket (Rhode Island) Maroons of the Class B New England League. On July 18, the Boston Globe wrote: “The catching and all-around work of Roach was simply immense. The boy is now fast enough for any league club in the land, a second Morgan Murphy [a major-league catcher at the time].”21 On August 2, the Fall River (Massachusetts) Herald said that “Catcher Roach of the Pawtucket club would make a good man for Boston.”22
The following year, Roach signed with the Toledo (Ohio) Swamp Angels of the Class A Western League. Halfway through the season and with attendance lacking, the club moved to Terre Haute, Indiana. Roach was given credit for batting .341 in 107 games that year. Since he typically hit .250 or less, the official league stats are suspect.23
At the end of the year, all of the Toledo/Terre Haute players were considered free agents because they didn’t give their consent to the mid-season move.24 Roach and four others were picked up by Connie Mack’s Pittsburgh Pirates. The Sporting News wrote that “Roach is looked upon as one of the best minor league catchers in the country.”25 In January, Mack, perhaps realizing that Roach’s .341 batting average was a mirage, said, “We want good hitters, and players who are only fair stickers in the minor leagues would not help us much. Roach, the catcher is a good man but . . . if we add another catcher to the list, he must be a fast one.”26
In April, 1896, Pittsburgh released Roach.27 He had offers from Bangor, Maine of the Class B New England League and Providence, Rhode Island of the Class A Eastern League.28 He said he would go with Bangor “providing the proper terms can be made,”29 and soon signed with Bangor.30 From the July 22 Bangor newspaper: “Roach is a catcher worthy of a place in league company. He is small but fast and sure.”31 On August 3, the newspaper wrote, “Roach caught a star game. He is a treasure.”32
The following year, 1897, Roach joined Hartford of the Class B Atlantic League. At the conclusion of the season, the Pennsylvania Grit provided a summary of his season: “Mr. M. S. Roach arrived [in Renovo] from Hartford this past week, where he closed one of the most brilliant and successful seasons on the diamond. He accomplished the remarkable feat of catching 138 games, which exceeds any previous record made by a catcher by nine games, and he knocked all records in number of consecutive games, 127.33 Mr. Roach’s friends in Hartford are numbered by the thousands, for his good all-around ball playing and his gentlemanly conduct. Mr. Roach is looking the picture of health and will winter here.”34
Roach returned to Hartford in 1898. The team did not have an owner in the usual sense; it was co-owned by all the players.35 On July 25, Hartford manager Bill Traffley resigned. He was accused of pocketing the proceeds of ticket sales for an exhibition game that was to benefit the players. An article in The Sporting News reported: “Manager Traffley handed in his resignation, and after its acceptance, our faithful catcher, Mike Roach, was elected to fill the position of manager. The selection of Roach as the manager is another evidence of more than ordinarily good judgment on the part of our players.”36
After the season, Roach attended the Atlantic League meeting in Philadelphia. On the agenda was to bring resolution to the Hartford ownership situation.37 Roach said that he had prospective investors from his hometown [Renovo] interested.38 However, a previous owner took over the team. Roach was not happy. In mid-February 1899, Roach signed with Newark of the Atlantic League, by then Class A. The Pennsylvania Grit wrote, “The inducements offered by the management of the Newark club justified Mr. Roach in signing. He will receive a much larger remuneration for his valuable services.”39
The year proved to be very disquieting. On July 7, the Paterson club folded and merged with Newark. Newark underwent three manager changes. In July, Roach was offered the job. The Wilkes-Barre Record wrote that “Roach has been made manager. He is an intelligent fellow and may get good work out of the team.” In the end, the Newark owner named himself manager.40 However, a week later, the entire Atlantic League disbanded, and its players all became free agents.41
Through all of this, Roach survived. Almost immediately he received an offer from the National League’s Washington Senators.42 Mike Roach, then 29, played his first major-league game on August 10, 1899. He received rave reviews, receiving a headline mention in the Washington Times: “Roach, the Senators’ New Catcher, Makes His Initial Appearance and Plays a Good Game.” From the game story, “Roach, Manager Arthur Irwin’s latest find, played his initial game here and acquitted himself handsomely.”43
The Washington press was good to Roach. September 2: “That little fellow Roach behind the bat is doing himself proud and deserves lots of credit. He is playing every game and catching the different pitchers in fine form.”44 (Although unconfirmed, Baseball Reference lists Roach’s height as 5-feet-7.)45 September 9: “The work of Catcher Roach should not be overlooked. He has been doing exceptionally well for the past month, catching almost every game, and the little fellow is improving with every game.”46 September 12: “Mike Roach has demonstrated the fact that he can make good in the big leagues.”47
After the 1899 season, the National League contracted from 12 teams to eight, dropping Louisville, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Washington. This left Roach without a team. On March 5, 1900, Roach’s contract was sold to the Toronto Canucks of the Eastern League. 48 Roach never played in the majors again. In 24 games he batted a powerless .218 but performed capably behind the plate with a .952 fielding percentage.
Toronto’s spring training was held in Atlantic City. “Toronto’s Manager Ed Barrow accompanied by sixteen players, arrived in Atlantic City. The next morning the players ran to Inland Park, which is about a mile and a half from their hotel. Jimmy Bannon took the lead, closely followed by little Mike Roach.”49 Bannon and Roach became good friends and played together on a number of teams in the following decade.
Roach continued to receive praise, “Toronto’s clever backstop, Mike Roach, is by long odds the best catcher in the league. He is a splendid thrower, sure on foul flies, and a quick thinker.”50 Manager Ed Barrow, a future Hall of Famer, often told an anecdote about Roach. The following is the short version: “One day Roach, who had been doing most of the catching, had an idea. He was off duty that day, so he put his citizen’s clothes on and took a seat behind the center fielder, in line with the pitcher and catcher. He took a field glass with him and said after the game, ‘Boys, there is chance for us to fool that bunch for fair tomorrow . . . for I can read their signals as sure as can be.’ Signaling vertically for the straight ones and horizontally for the curves, Roach commenced to tip them off. All the batter had to do was to look directly at the pitcher. About a foot over his head was Roach giving the signals. Bing went the ball into right field. Bing again she went over the other way. The slaughter was on. We made seven runs in the fourth inning. Jersey City did not know what hit them. This went on for several days until we had to put Mike back in the lineup. We tried another signal caller, but he got rattled and gave all of the signals at once. We then decided to call the scheme off.”51
In February 1901 Roach was traded to Syracuse. Bad luck followed. On May 6, he had his nose broken by a pitched ball. On June 5, on his way to the ballpark the trolley he was riding jumped the tracks and toppled over. Roach sustained minor bruises, some players were injured badly.52 On June 16, the Syracuse anti-saloon league filed a complaint about ball-playing on Sunday. Roach and the catcher were arrested after the opening pitch, found guilty, and fined two dollars each.53 In midseason, the Syracuse team moved to Brockton, Massachusetts. At the end of the season, the club disbanded, and the players became free agents. The highlight of the season for Roach was that he had been reunited with his old batterymate John Barnett.
On February 24, 1902, the Los Angeles Times reported: “another new player was signed for Los Angeles in the person of Mike Roach . . . by way of identification, he is a brother of Jack Roach, who pitched for Los Angeles in 1891 and 1892.”54 Roach’s teammate for part of that year was future Hall of Famer Rube Waddell. On April 9, the team had Rube Waddell Day, in which photographs of Waddell were passed out to the lady fans.55 Roach was the catcher for that event.
It was a long season, running from March into December. The Los Angeles team, nicknamed the Looloos, played 174 games in the four-team California League; Roach appeared in 110.
Before Roach returned East, it was reported that he would be joining the Columbus (Ohio) Senators of the newly recognized Class A American Association for the 1903 season.56 Jimmy Bannon was also signed to play for Columbus.
Throughout his career, Roach consistently got into squabbles with the opposing team or the umpire. Space here does not permit details of many of these incidents, but the following is one example: “Columbus won today in a game which was incidental to a row in which Roach, Bannon, Business Manager Quinn, a bleacherette, umpire Messmer, and a half dozen of the police were concerned. In the fourth inning, Roach was put out of the grounds, and later Manager Quinn was ordered out and also Captain Bannon, the latter for pulling umpire Messmer’s nose. The latter wanted to fight but was prevented by the local players. One spectator tried to mix in the row, and the police took him out. Order was finally restored, and Columbus finished the game with a patched team.”57
Roach was expected to return to Columbus the following year, but in January 1904, he was traded to the Minneapolis Millers, also of the Class A American Association.58 Unfortunately, that spring, he had a sore arm and was released.59 He soon caught on with llion of the Class B New York State League. Roach had a good year for Ilion in 1904. He had one of his highest batting averages (.261), led the league in fielding, got into occasional skirmishes, and was a fan favorite.60
Roach, by then 35 years old, re-signed with Ilion for the 1905 season.61 However, in April, the franchise was transferred to a much larger city, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.62 Even though Roach’s hometown of Renovo was 135 miles away, Wilkes-Barre was easily accessible by train, and since Roach was a Pennsylvania native, he became a local favorite. Sometime during the season, the Wilkes-Barre newspapers started calling him “Renovo” Mike Roach.63 He was always receiving praise. A few examples: “Roach is as fast as they make them, even if he has been in the game for a score of years.”64 “Roach is catching in great style. Mike is a fine backstop . . . and is a gentleman.”65 “Roach is said to be the best minor league catcher in the country. Wilkes-Barre fans agree to this. He is idolized here.”66 From the sketches of the starting players, “Catcher Roach, though small is considered one of the best, if not the best in the league.”67
Some of Roach’s work behind the plate was a little shady. On Saturday, August 5, against Scranton, he pulled the old bat tipping trick – grabbing the bat as the batter swung. The Wilkes-Barre Record called him a “tricky ballplayer.”68 The Scranton Republican wrote that “Roach is a dirty ballplayer.”69
On August 15 Roach badly sprained his ankle sliding into home and got into only one more game the rest of the season.70 Wilkes-Barre missed winning the pennant by two games.71
At the end of September, Roach left for Renovo, where he spent the fall with some of his teammates hunting in the central Pennsylvania mountains. He owned several dogs and a collection of shotguns and rifles. Allegedly, he had bagged two bears and two deer the year before.72 In November, it was learned that Roach never had signed a reserve contract and thus was a free agent.73 In late November, he came to Wilkes-Barre with the intention of signing for 1906. When they could not reach agreement, Roach gave the Barons until Christmas to decide. Management never responded and the day after Christmas he signed with Binghamton for the exact terms that he had been asking.74
The Wilkes-Barre correspondent to The Sporting News wrote, “Mike Roach was the brains of the Baron team, and they made a great mistake in permitting the leading catcher of the New York State circuit to get away from them and they will very much regret it. In early April, after spending two weeks at the famous Mount Clemens, Michigan mineral springs, Roach reported to the Binghamton management that he was ‘in fine fettle.’”75
While Binghamton got off to a fast start and was in first place early in the season, the Barons struggled. When Binghamton visited in June, one Wilkes-Barre paper wrote, “Mike Roach is still the same old foxy boy he was when he was here.”76 Four other former Barons were also on the 1906 Binghamton team. The Wilkes-Barre papers called the players deserters and called the two teams “the present and past Wilkes-Barre clubs.”77 A strong rivalry developed.
By the end of July, Binghamton was still in the first division, and Wilkes-Barre was in last place. The Wilkes-Barre papers said that the players who jumped to Binghamton were not that good. The Binghamton paper called the Wilkes-Barre folks “a bunch of sore-heads.”78 For the season, neither team fared well. Binghamton ended in next to last place and Wilkes-Barre finished last.
At the end of October, Roach had a meeting with the Binghamton owner about a contract for the following year. He was again a free agent, but the rumor was that he wanted to stay in Binghamton.79After Christmas, it was reported that Roach was home in Renovo collecting his rents and building two or three new houses.80
In the spring of 1907, the Binghamton team, including Roach, held spring training in Virginia.81 On opening day he was again the starting catcher.82 His shenanigans were visible again that August in Utica. Roach instigated an argument when he claimed the runner who had just hit a triple failed to touch second base. The umpire called the runner out and according to the newspaper: “the decision was about as rank as it could possibly be.” The runner then became rather excited and “took the umpire’s collar and shook him as he would a dog.” The runner was thrown out of the game.83
For Roach, the 1908 season began before the 1907 season ended. In September 1907, Roach and John Mooney, a cafe owner from Ilion, purchased the Binghamton team.84 Jimmy Bannon later was added as a third owner.85 Roach was to be the business manager, Bannon the field manager and captain. As it turned out Roach was the de facto field boss.86 In a team picture taken later in 1908, he was listed as manager and Bannon as captain.87 Giving Bannon the title of manager was really a ploy to get around the State League’s salary cap – playing managers were allowed to make more than regular players.88
During the winter, Roach traveled extensively scouting for new players. In the spring, he spent two weeks in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a popular spring training spot. He planned to be the starting catcher again.89
Roach did not mellow and neither did the team. He and Bannon got thrown out of a game in Utica in July for “rowdy tactics.”90 The Binghamton team of 1908 led the league with 22 ejections.91 The Bingos came in second, quite an improvement over the prior year’s seventh place. Bannon decided not to come back for 1909 and cashed in his shares.92 Roach officially took over all management roles and remained on the active roster.93
Binghamton opened the 1909 season at Wilkes-Barre’s new Diamond Field. The headline in the Wilkes-Barre newspaper stated that: “. . . the Barons and the Roaches Will Enjoy Trolley Ride Through City Suburbs.”94 Roach would occasionally insert himself into a game. On July 12, in a game against Syracuse, he “surprised everyone with his base running. He ran four times, got a stolen base, scored, and came near making good in an attempted squeeze.”95
Late in the season, with his team out of the pennant race, Roach began selling off many of his good players. The Binghamton Press was critical.96 In January 1910, Mooney and Roach sold the team. As one local account ran, “Michael Roach was a good fellow and Binghamton is sorry to see him go, and his friends wish for him all the luck in the world in the future.”97
Roach was not ready to move on from baseball. In February he received several offers from the Ohio State League. The Press wrote, “Wherever he lands, the fans of Binghamton will wish him success. A man of Roach’s ability should never be allowed to leave the New York State League.”98 In March 1910, Roach accepted a position as manager of the Portsmouth, Ohio, team. He visited that city and left a very favorable impression. The Portsmouth Times wrote: “Mr. Roach is a hale fellow, well met, is business from the ground up and knows the game from A to Z.” Roach stated that he was in “playing condition, near the 160 mark and that he expected to do the bulk of the catching for the team.” He also said, “It is hard to keep me out of the game when I’m in shape to play. I play the game because I love it.”99
Despite having such a long professional playing career, from 1892 through 1909, Roach’s throwing and batting side were never documented. Baseball Reference lists both as being unknown. However, two pictures have surfaced that show that he threw right-handed, as would almost certainly be the case for a catcher. One a team picture of the Renovo Actives from about the mid-1890s shows a right-handed catcher’s glove lying in front of him. Another picture from 1908 shows him throwing right-handed.100 His batting side remains unknown, but chances are it was righty too.
While he was interviewing for the Portsmouth manager position, he was also in negotiations to lease Binghamton’s McDonald Hotel. On April 2, 1910, Roach was announced as the successful bidder, and he signed a five-year lease. His plans were to refurbish it and make it the home for visiting ballplayers during the season.101 After procuring a replacement, Roach resigned as Portsmouth’s manager.102 Meanwhile, the new ownership of the Binghamton team failed.103 Though not officially part of that group, Roach helped scout for better players.104 Otherwise, he spent the bulk of his time managing his hotel business.
In 1910 Roach began promoting local wrestling and boxing matches. In 1911, he promoted a championship wrestling match with Sam Anderson, the British champion wrestler and holder of the prestigious Lord Lonsdale belt, against Rochester’s Charles Kaiser. Anderson lost the match and left his belt behind.105 The belt was later found hanging over the cash register at Roach’s hotel.106
Over the 1911 year-end holidays, Roach went to Renovo and left the hotel in the hands of his friend, Bill Friel. Friel was also from Renovo and a former major-league player. According to the Binghamton Press, Roach had left town suddenly, sparking a rumor that the hotel was about to close.107 He had met Rosemary Manalis in Renovo during the holidays and was smitten. Rosemary’s older sister Mamie was living in Renovo; her husband, Frederick Miller, was the town’s dentist. Both sisters were Wilkes-Barre natives. On June 18, 1912, Mike and Rosemary were married in St. Mary’s Church, Wilkes-Barre.108After their honeymoon, Roach continued running the McDonald Hotel. But his baseball passion remained.
In December 1912, Roach arranged a meeting with his baseball contacts with the intent to form a new Class C circuit in New England, to be called the Northeastern League. Roach was to be president. Jimmy Bannon was also involved.109 By early January 1913, Roach had secured owners for all the teams.110 In February, it was reported that the league was set to go. However, a few weeks later it folded because a few of the playing fields became unavailable.111
In March 1913, when Mike was 44, his first child (a son named Louis) was born. In January 1914, Roach sold the McDonald Hotel lease. It was reported that he was planning to attend the spring meeting of the major leagues with the hope of landing a managerial position.112 Whether or not he received an offer is unknown. But in April, Roach purchased the Cadillac Hotel, located on Main Street in Binghamton.113
In 1914 and 1915, in addition to running his hotel, Roach played baseball for the Binghamton Elks.114 In August 1916, his second child (daughter Rosemary) was born. Less than two months later Roach became seriously ill. In late October, he went to New York City to be treated by his brother, Dr. Charles Roach. He died at his brother’s Manhattan home on November 12, 1916.115 The cause of death as listed on his death certificate was cirrhosis of the liver caused by acute hepatitis.116 It is unknown how he contracted hepatitis.117
Roach was buried on November 16, in the St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery just outside of Renovo.118 John Barnett went on to have a successful dental practice in Elmira.119 Bill Friel became general manager of the St. Louis Browns.120 Jimmy Bannon coached baseball at Lehigh and New Hampshire Universities and became president of the New England League.121 In all likelihood, Mike Roach would have achieved that same level of success if he hadn’t died at such a young age.
Rev. Michael Roach and Reba Cummings for their contributions to the author’s research.
This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Kevin Larkin.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, the James V. Brown Library Digital Archives, Williamsport, Pennsylvania; https://jvbrownpublic.advantage-preservation.com/, and a number of other publications and genealogical sources.
1 “The Fans Are Well Pleased with the New Manager,” Portsmouth (Ohio) Times, March 17, 1910: 11.
2 U.S. Census Bureau, 1870, Gibson Township, County of Cameron, Driftwood Post Office, July 4, 1870, Line 17, Roach Michael S., 6 months, Birth Month December. Note: Michael’s Marriage license application gives his birthdate as December 23, 1872, and his Death Certificate gives his birthdate as December 23, 1873.
3 U.S. Census Bureau, 1870, Gibson Township, County of Cameron, Driftwood Post Office, July 4, 1870, Line 11,
William Roach, Hotel Keeper; “Hostelries of Cameron County,” The Cameron County Historical Society; No date: 25.
4 “It Wasn’t New-York’s Day,” New York Times, May 15, 1887: 7.
5 “Will Play with Toledo,” (Williamsport) Pennsylvania Grit, March 31, 1895: 12.
6 “What Does This Mean,” Pennsylvania Grit, August 9, 1891: 11.
7 “Safe On First,” Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, March 13, 1892: 5.
8 “Renovo Rockets,” Pennsylvania Grit, April 10, 1892: 12.
9 “It Was Seven to Five,” Macon Telegraph, April 10, 1892: 10.
10 “Roach and Painter Leave,” Macon Telegraph, May 16, 1892: 6.
11 “The Reading Club Goes Under,” Altoona (Pennsylvania) Morning Tribune, July 27, 1892: 1.
12 “The Renovos Did It,” Pennsylvania Grit, July 31, 1892: 6.
13 “Oh! How They Did Kick,” Pennsylvania Grit, September 18, 1892: 8.
14 “Proposed Base Ball Club for Reading,” Reading (Pennsylvania) Times and Dispatch, March 10, 1893: 4.
15 “Renovo Gossip and Fact,” Pennsylvania Grit, May 19, 1893: 11.
16 “The River League,” Tyrone (Pennsylvania) Herald, June 21, 1893: 4.
17 “From the Railroad Town,” Pennsylvania Grit, October 15, 1893: 10.
18 “Renovo Has the Pennant,” Tyrone Herald, October 25, 1893: 4.
19 “Base Ball at Renovo,” Pennsylvania Grit, March 25, 1894: 10.
20 “Renovo’s Budget of News,” Pennsylvania Grit, April 15, 1894: 10.
21 “Great Game at Fall River,” Boston Globe, July 18, 1894: 2.
22 Tim Murnane, “Diamond Pickups,” Fall River (Massachusetts) Herald, August 2, 1894: 7.
23 “The Work of a League,” Saint Paul (Minnesota) Globe, December 1, 1895: 14. “Are Official. Averages of the Western League for 1895,” The Sporting News, December 7, 1895: 2. This writer conducted a deep dive into the Toledo/Terre Haute box scores of 1895. The conclusion was that Roach batted .276. The Western League’s records show that 11 players hit over .400 with seven having over 500 at-bats. Every team in the league had a team batting average over .300. While the official league records match Baseball-Reference, they are highly suspect. It is recommended that an audit be done on the Western League batting records for 1895.
24 “Working A Corner,” The Sporting News, December 7, 1895: 1.
25 “Working A Corner,” above.
26 “Late Sporting News,” Pittsburg (Pennsylvania) Press, January 7, 1896: 9.
27 “Base Ball, Diamond Points,” Fall River (Massachusetts) Evening News, April 17, 1896: 5.
28 “Diamond Points,” Fall River Evening News, April 16, 1896: 5.
29 “Baseball Gossip,” Fall River Herald, April 11, 1896: 8.
30 “Baseball Gossip,” Fall River Herald, April 15, 1896: 6.
31 “Fought Ten Innings . . . Notes,” Bangor (Maine) Whig and Courier, July 22, 1896: 4.
32 “An Exciting Game,” Bangor Whig and Courier, August 3, 1896: 4.
33 Baseball-Reference shows that Roach played in 132 games for Hartford in 1896.
34 “Record of Renovo Events, Roach’s Great Ball Record,” Pennsylvania Grit, October 3, 1897: 12.
35 “Hartfords Minor League Club, Part 1: The Hartfords (1878-1901); https://www.ghtbl.org/hartford-i/
36 “Manager Mike Roach,” The Sporting News, July 30, 1898: 1.
37 “Atlantic League Meeting,” Hartford (Connecticut) Courant, September 14, 1898: 7.
38 “Pennsylvania Money Coming Here,” Hartford Courant, October 10, 1898: 6; On May 29, 1898, Roach’s uncle John Kane died. He had been a railroad contractor and was responsible for building large sections of the Allegheny Valley Railroad 30 years earlier. He was never married and left the bulk of his estate to the six Roach brothers. Perhaps this was source of the funds to be used for the proposed deal.
39 “Renovo News Notes,” Pennsylvania Grit, February 19, 1899: 7.
40 “Atlantic League Troubles, Newark Club Has Made Another Change of Managers,” Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania) Times, July 31, 1899: 5; “Atlantic League to Hold Together,” Wilkes-Barre Record, July 8, 1899: 3; “Spurrier Resigns,” (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) Intelligencer Journal, July 28, 1899: 6; “Base Hits,” Wilkes-Barre Record, July 31, 1899: 3; “Atlantic League Troubles, Newark Club Has Made Another Change of Managers,” Wilkes-Barre Times, July 31, 1899: 5.
41 “Seen, Heard and Noted, The Collapse of the Atlantic League,” Wilkes-Barre Sunday News, August 6, 1899: 1; “Atlantic League Out of Business,” Lancaster Morning News, August 8, 1899: 4; “The Barons Disbanded,” Wilkes-Barre Record, August 8, 1899: 3.
42 “Newark Disband,” Passaic (New Jersey) News, August 12, 1899: 2.
43 “A Victory for Chicago,” Washington Times, August 11, 1899: 6.
44 “Base Ball Notes,” Washington Evening Star, September 2, 1899: 9.
45 Baseball Reference, https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/roachmi01.shtml
46 “Base Ball Notes,” Washington Evening Star, September 9, 1899: 9.
47 “Notes of the National Game,” Washington Times, September 12, 1899: 6.
48 “Passed Balls,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 6, 1900: 6.
49 “Torontos Are at Work,” Montreal Gazette, April 12, 1900: 2.
50 “Baseball Gossip,” Fall River Herald, June 4, 1900: 2.
51 “A Great Scheme Won Hot Game in Eastern,” Pittsburg Press, February 14, 1904: 20; “He Tipped Them Off,” Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Evening News, April 11, 1904: 3.
52 “Trolley Car Toppled Over While Rounding a Curve,” (Rochester, New York) Democrat & Chronicle, June 6, 1901: 1.
53 “Anti-Saloon League Had Pfanmiller and Roach Arrested for Playing Sunday Ball,” Buffalo Review, June 17, 1901: 10.
54 “New Ball Player, Catcher Roach Secured,” Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1902: 9.
55 “Fair Sex Will Be Supplied with Photographs of the Great Waddell, Who Is to Pitch,” Los Angeles Express, March 19, 1902; 7.
56 “Where They Will Play,” Williamsport Gazette & Bulletin, December 11, 1902: 2.
57 “A Disgraceful Row Was the Feature of the Milwaukee-Columbus Game,” Kansas City Times, July 24, 1903: 6.
58 “Traded Batteries,” Pittsburg Press, January 13, 1904:17.
59 “Baseball, Millers Show Up Well in Practice,” Minneapolis Journal, April 9, 1904: 2.
60 “Athletics Will Get Player O’Brien,” Wilkes-Barre Record, November 28, 1904: 10.
61 “Baseball Notes,” Pittsburg Press, October 15, 1904: 10.
62 “Professional Base Ball for Wilkes-Barre,” Wilkes-Barre Times, April 19, 1905: 3.
63 “From the Foul Line,” Wilkes-Barre Record, July 13, 1905: 11.
64 “State League Grounders,” Wilkes-Barre News, June 15, 1905: 5.
65 “Diamond Pickups,” Wilkes-Barre Leader, July 5, 1905: 7.
66 “Diamond Pickups,” Wilkes-Barre Leader, August 7, 1905: 8.
67 “Sketch of Local Players,” Wilkes-Barre Times, May 10, 1905: 10.
68 “Baseball Notes,” Scranton Republican, August 8, 1905: 7.
69 “From the Foul Line,” Wilkes-Barre Record, August 9, 1905: 12.
70 “Jags Downed in Very Fast Game, Roach Is Out of the Game,” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, August 15, 1905: 8.
71 “The Base Ball Championship,” Wilkes-Barre News, September 11, 1905: 4.
72 “More Players Leave,” Wilkes-Barre Record, September 28, 1905: 11.
73 “Reserve List of State League,” Wilkes-Barre Times, October 6, 1905: 3; “Baseball Notes,” Scranton (Pennsylvania) Tribune, November 12, 1905: 2.
74 “Roach With Binghamton,” Wilkes-Barre Times, December 26, 1905: 6.
75 “To Work Out in The West,” Binghamton Press, March 9, 1906: 12.
76 No Title, Wilkes-Barre Leader, June 6, 1906: 7.
77 “Took First from Bingo, Barons Downed the Ex-Wilkes-Barre Bunch,” Wilkes-Barre Record, July 27, 1906: 11.
78 “Wilkesbarre Sheds Tears,” Binghamton Press, July 30, 1906: 8.
79 “Catcher Roach Visits Hammond,” Binghamton Press, October 25, 1906: 10.
80 ” Sports, Prospecting for Gold,” Wilkes-Barre Record, January 7, 1907: 9.
81 “Part of the Bingos Play in Southland,” Binghamton Press, April 2, 1907: 10; “Lynchburg Shows Up Finely Against Binghamton,” (Richmond, Virginia) Times-Dispatch, April 2, 1907: 9.
82 “Season To Be Opened Tomorrow,” Binghamton Press, May 8, 1907: 12; Baseball-Reference incorrectly lists Roach as being on the Wilkes-Barre team in 1907. Four other members of the 1907 Binghamton team are also incorrectly listed as being on the 1907 Wilkes-Barre team. They were Art Marcan, Jack Manning, Jack McCallister, and Lou Bruce. Baseball-Reference has been notified.
83 “Parkins Wins Two from Utica,” Binghamton Press, August 27, 1907: 8.
84 “Franchise Purchased,” Binghamton Press, September 7, 1907: 8.
85 “Bannon Will Manage Team,” Binghamton Press, December 7, 1907: 8.
86 “Captain Bannon Has Some Schemes,” Scranton Republican, February 7, 1908: 8; “Barons and Bingoes in Exciting Game,” Wilkes-Barre News, June 9, 1908: 7.
87 “Sports, Binghamton Baseball Club of 1908,” Binghamton Press, September 21, 1908: 4.
88 “Will Have League Heed Salary Limit,” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, February 7, 1907: 9; “State League’s Salary Limit,” Wilkes-Barre News, February 11, 1907: 9; “What Cheap Ball Promises to Do in Local Base Ball Circtit (sic),” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, April 27, 1907: 11.
89 “All Ready for Meeting in This City,” Binghamton Press, January 29, 1908: 3.
90 “Bingos Draw Four Defeats and Drop to Third Position,” Binghamton Press, July 27, 1908: 4.
91 “Some Wild Umpires We Have All Met,” Binghamton Press, December 30, 1908: 8.
92 “Bannon Places Baseball Stock on the Market,” Binghamton Press, October 30, 1908: 10.
93 Baseball-Reference, 1909 Binghamton Bingoes; William Roach is incorrectly named as being the manager of the Binghamton Bingos for 1909. William Roach was Mike’s father. Perhaps Roach was scheming something that resulted in the New York State League to record “William” Roach as the 1909 manager. Baseball-Reference has been notified.
94 “’Play Ball’ Will Be Joyous Music to Fans,” Wilkes-Barre News, May 5. 1909: 9.
95 “Stars Are Outplayed by the Bingos,” Binghamton Press, July 13, 1909: 4; Baseball-Reference and other publications state that Roach never played past 1908. A study of the box scores of the Binghamton Bingos of 1909 show that he played in eight games and had 11 at-bats. Baseball-Reference has been notified.
96 “Miller Sold to Mobile Club?” Binghamton Press, August 3, 1909: 4.
97 “‘Jack’ Warner Buys Control of the Bingos,” Binghamton Press, January 25, 1910: 4.
98 “Manager Warner Is After a Shortstop,” Binghamton Press, February 22, 1910: 5.
99 “The Fans Are Well Pleased with the New Manager,” Portsmouth Times, March 17, 1910: 11.
100 “The Old Picture Album . . . Renovo Baseball Team,” (Lock Haven) Express, October 11, 1969; 5; A much clearer version of this picture was reprinted about 40 years later with most names provided. A copy of this version is in possession of the author. “’Mike’ Roach, The Playing Manager of the Bingos,” Binghamton Press, April 29, 1908; 8.
101 “Roach Turns Hotelman,” Binghamton Press, April 2, 1910: 7. The McDonald Hotel was located at the corner of Lewis and Fayette Streets. It later became the Hotel Chapman and then the Hotel Gregory. It was demolished in 1966 for urban renewal. Ironically, in 1992 Binghamton built a new baseball stadium near the location of the Hotel McDonald.
102 “Roach Returns from Portsmouth,” Binghamton Press, April 22, 1910: 12.
103 “Warner Released, New Management Is in Charge,” Binghamton Press, June 2, 1910: 8.
104 “Catcher Mahoney to Return to the Bingos,” Binghamton Press, June 3, 1910: 14.
105 “Kaiser Wins Championship; Breaks Anderson’s Rib,” Binghamton Press, April 1, 1911: 8.
106 “Mike Will Begin to Charge Storage,” Binghamton Press, April 17, 1911: 11.
107 “Deal For Transfer of Hotel M’Donald Is Said to Be Pending,” Binghamton Press, January 3, 1912: 5.
108 “Charming Nuptials, Roach-McNelis,” Wilkes-Barre Record, June 19, 1912: 14; Rosemary’s maiden name was Manalis but alternatively spelled McNelis or some variation.
109 “Former Renovo Man President, Mike Roach Heads Northeastern Baseball League as Class C Organization,” Williamsport Gazette and Bulletin, December 12, 1912:6; “Bannon Slated for Position of Importance,” Binghamton Press, December 13, 1912: 21.
110 “Manning Goes to Manchester to Secure Park,” Binghamton Press, December 28, 1912: 9.
111 “General Sporting News,” Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Sentinel, March 26, 1913: 6.
112 “Roach Sells Lease of M’Donald Hotel,” Binghamton Press, January 3, 1914: 14.
113 “‘Mike’ Roach Will Open ‘Stag’ Hotel,” Binghamton Press, April 22, 1914: 9. As of 2022, the building at 9 Main Street still stands and is known as Fritzie’s Pub.
114 “Warner’s Herd Likely to Stampede Coalers in Field Encounter,” Binghamton Press, July 29, 1914: 10; “Elks Will Battle with Bingo Herd at Diamond Park,” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, September 8, 1915: 10.
115 “Mike’ Roach, Catcher, Dies,” Binghamton Press, November 13, 1916: 12.
116 Death Certificate for Michael Stephen Roach, November 12, 1916, File No. 31989, Department of Heath of the City of New York. Certified copy in possession of author.
117 In the 2012 book, “The Rank and File of 19th Century Major League Baseball, by David Nemec, it is written on page 123, without citation, that Roach “died of advanced cirrhosis of the liver resulting from chronic alcoholism.” Research indicates that Roach was not at all a drinker, as evidenced in an article published in the Wilkes-Barre Record on August 29, 1914, on page 9. “Michael S. Roach, one of Binghamton’s leading hotel men, visited Wilkes-Barre yesterday . . . ‘Mike’ is now running one of the most prosperous ‘wet goods’ stores in Bingo . . . Mike always liked to hit high balls when at the bat in his baseball days, but he does not practice it in his hotel and that accounts for his prosperity.”
118 “Renovo’s News Budget, Remains of M. S. Roach Buried at Drurys Run,” (Williamsport, Pennsylvania) Grit, November 19, 1916: 9. St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery is also known as the Durey Run Cemetery.
119 “Dr. Barnett Calls Upon Bingo Pals,” Elmira (New York) Star-Gazette, June 2, 1915: 12.
120 “Bill Friel Funeral to Be Tomorrow,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 27, 1959: 4F.
121 “James H. Bannon Rites Monday,” Paterson (New Jersey) Evening News, March 26, 1948: 32.
Michael Stephen Roach
December 23, 1869 at Driftwood, PA (USA)
November 12, 1916 at New York, NY (USA)
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