Mike Roarke

Michael Thomas “Mike” Roarke grew up playing ball in West Warwick, Rhode Island, starred in football and baseball at Boston College before graduating in 1952, built a reputation as a stellar catcher and handler of pitchers in the minor leagues in the 1950s, came to the Detroit Tigers in a multi-player trade with the Milwaukee Braves on October 15, 1959, and made the Tigers’ major league roster as a 29-year-old rookie at spring training in 1960. Detroit, however, had veteran catchers Lou Berberet and Bob “Red” Wilson, and, one month later, Roarke was sent to Denver, the Tigers’ Triple-A club in the American Association. Big, strong, and agile at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, the right-handed batting receiver thrived at Denver, batting .255 and being a unanimous choice for the All-Star team. Back in Lakeland in the spring of 1961, Roarke made the Tigers again. For that glorious summer he shared catching duties with Dick Brown during Detroit’s exciting fight for the pennant against the New York Yankees.

“A slick man with a glove is Mike Roarke,” reported the Tigers’ 1961: Official Yearbook, “getting his second trial as a Tiger catcher. Once a fine football end at Boston College, Mike came to the Tigers from the Milwaukee Braves’ organization in a 1959 minor league deal. The personable Irishman spent a month with the Tigers last spring without getting into a game but was called up again after helping Denver win the pennant in 1960.”1

Roarke, a fine defensive catcher who was adept at handling pitchers and calling a game best suited to each hurler’s strengths, spent most of his minor league seasons toiling in the Braves’ system, partly because he wasn’t known as a good hitter. Overall, Roarke spent a lifetime in baseball, dating from his first few games behind the plate with Evansville of the Class B Three-I League in 1952, through his four years with Detroit in the early 1960s, and, after serving as a major league bullpen and pitching coach for many years, he coached one final summer with the Boston Red Sox in the strike-shortened 1994 season. A dedicated man for all seasons, Mike and his wife Merry Sue enjoyed their baseball odyssey as Mike spent more than 40 years as a player, coach, and minor league manager.2

Roarke was born at the beginning of the Great Depression, on November 8, 1930, to Walter and Mary (Riley) Roarke. The second of four children and the eldest of three sons, Mike grew up in an Irish Catholic family. Like most boys his age, he loved every kind of game, but mainly he played baseball, football and basketball, excelling at all three sports at West Warwick High. Mike wanted to go to college, and he won an American Legion scholarship to Boston University, but it wasn’t sports-based. After talking to the parish priest and to a good friend who played football at Boston College, Roarke accepted a football scholarship to BC. Freshmen didn’t play varsity ball in those years, but Mike starred for three seasons of football and baseball starting in the fall of 1950. He was a fine all-around athlete, and he was chosen to captain both teams as a senior. A standout end in football, Roarke was the best hitter and RBI man for the baseball team in 1951 and 1952. An excellent student, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history.3

“As an athlete, his talent is almost limitless; as a leader, he is a model for his teammates; as a gentleman, he approaches perfection,” commented assistant football coach Bill Flynn for the college’s student newspaper, The Heights, in the edition dated November 30, 1951.4

Shortly after graduation in June 1952, Roarke signed a minor league contract with the Boston Braves’ Class A farm club in Hartford, Connecticut, in the Eastern League. Because Hartford didn’t have a roster spot, he was assigned to Evansville of the Class B Three-I League. Roarke, however, had already been drafted, and after ten days, the Army transported him to basic training. The Korean War was winding down by early 1953, and the draftee was sent to Salzburg, Austria. Mike finished his tour of duty in February 1954, and the Army shipped him home and mustered him out just before baseball’s spring training began.

Following spring camp, the Braves assigned Roarke to Jacksonville, Florida (the team was moved from Hartford), of the Class A South Atlantic (Sally) League. In the Florida heat, Mike enjoyed his best minor league season, hitting .295 with five home runs and 28 RBIs for the first-place Braves. The manager was Ben Geraghty, who liked his receiver’s excellent defensive skills, his good handling of pitchers, and his thoughtful way of calling the game, characteristics which became the trademarks of Roarke’s baseball career.

Soft-spoken, quiet, and pleasant off the diamond, Roarke was an intense, hard-working, confident competitor on the field, but not a great hitter. Along with a few Braves’ farmhands, he spent the winter of 1954-55 playing for second-place Caguas-Guayana in the five-team Puerto Rican League. Again managed by Geraghty, Roarke helped his team defeat San Juan in four games in the first round of playoffs, and he homered in the third game.5 The former Boston College star was off to a strong start in the minors, but his success with the bat didn’t last.

Perhaps having played too many games in his first full professional season, Roarke struggled at the plate in 1955. He started the season with Triple-A Columbus of the International League, where he hit .231 in 32 games, and he finished the summer with Jacksonville, where he averaged just .135 in 49 games. Talking about that season in 2014, Roarke said the Braves’ general manager called and told him they needed a catcher in Jacksonville, and he made the trip. “It wasn’t a good hitting year for me,” Roarke recalled. “I don’t know if I was doing anything differently, but I didn’t hit like I did the year before. Even in Triple-A, I didn’t hit that good.”

Mike told a baseball story to make his point: “One time I played with a guy who was not hitting as well as he hit the year before. Some reporter asked him that question, and his answer was, ‘There are certain pitchers who give me trouble: left-handers and right-handers’!”

Roarke added, “I don’t think it was the pitchers. When you’re hitting, you’re hitting. When you’re not hitting, it seems like all the pitchers are tough.”6

The big, crew-cut, blue-eyed receiver was sent to Jacksonville again in 1956, and he enjoyed a good season for the first-place Braves. Managed again by Ben Geraghty, whom he liked and respected, Mike hit .276 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs in 114 games. He also led Sally League catchers with 669 putouts. He racked up 67 assists while making 8 errors, good for a .989 fielding average. Once again he proved adept at handling pitchers and calling a good game. In those years most managers trusted their catchers to call the signals, especially in the minor leagues.7

Roarke proved valuable to the Braves organization, and in 1957 he was first assigned to Triple-A Toronto, an independent team in the International League. But after one game, Roarke was sent to Wichita, the Braves’ top club in the Triple-A American Association. At Wichita he hit .241 with 2 homers and 41 RBIs. Good defensively, he led the league in putouts with 699, assists with 50, and errors with 10, good for a .987 fielding mark. He also met his future wife, Merry Sue Blair, and they were married after the 1958 season. Eventually the couple had five children: Susan, born in 1959, Thomas (1961), Karen (1962), Janet (1965), and Kelly (1973).

Milwaukee had strong teams, winning National League pennants in 1957, thanks in part to a spectacular season by “Hurricane” Bob Hazle, and again in 1958. The Braves won the 1957 World Series over the New York Yankees in seven games and lost the 1958 fall classic to the Bronx Bombers, also in seven games. Milwaukee had a talented lineup, including at catcher, where they had Del Crandall backed up by Del Rice. Crandall, an eight-time NL All-Star, was one of the league’s top all-around receivers.

Roarke hoped to become the Braves’ number two or three catcher. Instead, he spent three years giving his best shot to Triple-A ball, catching more than 100 games each season. Mike averaged .241 for Wichita in 1957 and an almost identical .240 in 1958. In 1959 the Braves switched their Triple-A team to Louisville, also in the American Association, and, similar to the previous two seasons, Roarke played 111 games but slipped to .227 with 4 homers and 27 RBIs. He fielded well, handled pitchers smoothly, but failed to hit as high as .250 in 1957, 1958, or 1959.

Roarke recalled in 2014, “I was in a bind with the Braves organization, because Del Crandall was their regular catcher. Del Rice was their backup catcher, and I thought Del Rice was a better defensive catcher than any other catcher the Braves had. If I had gone up to Milwaukee, they primarily thought of me as a defensive catcher, not offensive. So I was lucky that I got traded to Detroit after the 1959 season, because that gave me the chance to get to the major leagues.”8

On October 15, 1959, Roarke was traded to the Tigers along with Don Kaiser, a tall right-hander who pitched three seasons with the Chicago Cubs starting in 1955, and infielder Casey Wise, who played the 1957 season for the Cubs and 1958 and 1959 for the Braves. In return, the Braves acquired lefty-batting catcher Charley Lau and little-used right-hander Don Lee.

Enjoying a new start, Roarke trained with Detroit at Lakeland, Florida, in 1960, and he came north on the team’s expanded roster. However, the Tigers had veteran catchers in Berberet and Wilson. Both were proven signal-callers, although both were nearing the end of their careers. The result: Roarke never played. The Tigers, having to cut to 25 players by May 18, sent Roarke to Triple-A Denver, Detroit’s American Association affiliate. Denver was loaded with top prospects, and the Bears won the AA pennant with an 88-66 record. Roarke, batted .255 with 8 homers and 40 RBIs, earning a shot with the Tigers in 1961. After the season, Mike played winter ball in Venezuela, and he took Merry Sue south with him.

The Detroit area was a good place to live in the early 1960s, and the Tigers were a good team to play for. The Roarkes rented houses during Mike’s four seasons, the first one near Grosse Pointe on the city’s east side. “When Mike was playing,” Merry Sue recalled in 2013, “if you bought a home in the town you played in, you were traded or released shortly after that, so we never bought a house in those towns where you played.” The wives were a big part of the team. Most of them attended day games and sat behind the Tigers’ dugout. Merry Sue remembered parking in the team’s lot next to Tiger Stadium, and she said the girls were nice and they got along well together. She commented, “One girl said one day, ‘I don’t care if you’re the 25th player on the club, you’re a major league player. Don’t take anything from anybody.’ That’s kind of how they all felt, ‘You’re one of us.’ That’s nice.” The friendliest wives included Louise Kaline, Mary Bunning, and Carmen Colavito, but Merry Sue said all the players and their wives were friendly.9

The Tigers, coming off a sixth-place finish in 1960 with a 71-83 ledger, fielded an improved team that battled the Yankees for the pennant through most of the 1961 season, the first year when AL teams played 162 games instead of 154. New manager Bob Scheffing was formerly a contact-hitting catcher and had served as pilot of the Chicago Cubs from 1957 through the 1959 season. A players’ manager who largely let his team perform on the field, Scheffing led the Tigers into first place for nearly half the season. The turning point came when the Bronx Bombers defeated the Bengals three straight in a Labor Day weekend series at Yankee Stadium. After that, the Tigers lost five straight before topping the Red Sox, 3-1, on September 9. Fueled by the home run race between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, the Yankees coasted to another pennant with a remarkable 109-53 record. The Tigers finished eight games back with a 101-61 mark, making Detroit the only major league team ever to twice win 100 games and finish in second place (the club went 100-54 in 1915, finishing second to Boston).

The Tigers fielded an exceptional team. Norm Cash led the AL with his .361 batting mark, and he slugged 41 home run and produced 132 RBIs, while teammate Rocky Colavito, also enjoying his finest season, batted .290 and topped the Bengals with 45 homers and 140 RBIs. Al Kaline, Detroit’s longtime superstar and team leader, ranked second to Cash with his .324 mark, and Al contributed 19 homers and 82 RBIs. The Tigers had an experienced rotation, featuring Frank Lary, who was 23-9; Jim Bunning, 17-11; Don Mossi, 15-7; Paul Foytack, 11-10; and second-year right-hander Phil Regan, who went 10-7. Terry Fox, the top reliever, was 5-2 with a team-high 12 saves, but the Yankees had more power, a stronger bullpen, and a better bench.

Roarke was the number two catcher behind Dick Brown, also a solid receiver but a better hitter. For the 1961 season Roarke played in 86 games and batted .223, totaling 51 hits, including two home runs, and 22 RBIs. Brown, who played 93 games, averaged .266, totaling 82 hits with 16 homers and 45 RBIs. Brown, however, suffered a split finger on July 15, and he was forced to sit out and heal until September 3. Detroit’s third catcher was Harry Chiti, acquired from the Kansas City Athletics in mid-1960, but he averaged just .083 in five games in 1961. On July 21 the Tigers swapped Chiti to the Baltimore Orioles for ex-Tigers catcher Frank House, who first signed with Detroit for a $70,000 bonus in 1949. Roarke handled most of the catching for the rest of July and August, and he shared the receiving duties with Brown in September. House batted .227 in the 17 games he played during the remainder of his final big league season.

Roarke knew Detroit’s pitchers well.10 Speaking about Don Mossi in 2013, Mike recalled that the tall California southpaw had excellent control. “He could throw the ball on the corners as well as anybody,” Roarke observed. Right-hander Frank Lary, a gritty competitor known as the “Yankee Killer,” was a power pitcher, relying mainly on the fastball, but he threw a good curve and an occasional knuckler that he used for a change-up. Jim Bunning, who sidearmed the fastball, curve, and slider, relied on his determination and his ability to figure out the batters.11

Reflecting on Detroit’s 1961 season in 2013, Roarke said, “Frank Lary had purer stuff than Jim Bunning, but Bunning found a way to get you out. That was his thing. He was a real tough competitor. Jim had pretty good stuff, but being a competitor made him. Frank could get by on just stuff alone, whereas Jim fought you tooth and nail. They were both pretty good pitchers.” For his part, Roarke knew how to call a smart game, and he was adept at keeping Detroit’s pitchers out of following a pattern of pitches against any of the hitters.12

Roarke remembered the Labor Day weekend series in New York starting on September 1, when the Tigers arrived at Yankee Stadium trailing New York by 1½ games. Bob Scheffing sent Don Mossi to the mound on Friday night, and Ralph Houk used ace Whitey Ford. The Tigers’ lineup included rookie Jake Wood leading off and playing second base, Bill Bruton batting second in center field, Al Kaline batting third in right, Rocky Colavito hitting clean-up and playing left, and Norm Cash hitting fifth and playing first base. Steve Boros, at third base, was sixth, Chico Fernandez at shortstop was seventh, and Roarke batted eighth, followed by Mossi.

The Tigers’ lefty hurled a complete game, pitching tough until the ninth inning. Ford, who pulled a shoulder muscle, left the game with two outs in the fifth, Bud Daley pitched 3.1 scoreless innings, and Luis Arroyo, who worked a scoreless ninth, recorded the win, boosting his record to 12-3. Besides two singles by Roarke, Kaline contributed three hits, including a bases-empty triple, but otherwise the Tigers notched only one single apiece by Bruton and Cash.

The score was 0-0 in the ninth after Arroyo induced Boros to ground out, short to first, got Fernandez on a bouncer to the mound, and Roarke took a called third strike. In the Yankees’ ninth, Mossi retired Maris on a long fly to right and caught Mantle looking at strike three. With one out to go before an extra inning, the Yankees rallied. Elston Howard lined a single to center, and Yogi Berra drove a long single to right center, sending Howard to third. Suddenly Mossi was on the ropes, and Bill Skowron shot a hard grounder between short and third to give New York the crucial 1-0 victory.13

The Yankees continued to beat the Tigers’ best pitchers, sweeping the three-game series and increasing their lead to 4½ games. On Saturday afternoon Frank Lary started and lasted into the eighth inning. Roarke caught and went 0-for-2 before being replaced by Frank House, who entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth and caught, but didn’t bat. Colavito hit a two-run homer off Ralph Terry, but Maris fueled the Yankees’ 7-2 victory by driving in three runs with round-trippers number 52 and 53. On Sunday Jim Bunning fell short, pitching six innings but leaving on the short end of a 4-2 score. The Tigers rallied for one run in the eighth and two more in the ninth for a 5-4 lead. But Mantle slugged homers number 49 and 50, blasting the second shot in the bottom of the ninth off Gerry Staley to tie the game at 5-5. After a single by Berra, Ron Kline replaced Staley. Luis Arroyo bunted Berra to second, Kline intentionally walked Skowron to set up a double play, but Howard belted a three-run homer to lift the Yankees to an 8-5 win. Again Roarke was 0-for-2. Scheffing, juggling his lineup, replaced Mike in the seventh with Dick Brown, making his first appearance since July 15. Brown was hitless in one official at-bat, and House caught the ninth, but never got up to bat.

For all practical purposes, Detroit’s season collapsed after the three defeats in New York,14 as the Tigers lost three straight at Baltimore and two more at Boston before beating the Red Sox, 3-1, on Saturday, September 9. By that time New York led Detroit by ten games, and the pennant race was over.15 Roarke, a thirty-year-old rookie, hit just .223 but helped stabilize the pitching staff, and he was the Tigers’ “iron man” when Brown was injured for six weeks. Like all players, Roarke enjoyed his highlights. For example, in a June 4 doubleheader at Tiger Stadium against the Twins, Mike was one of eight Tigers to homer. Cash, Bruton, Brown, Chico Fernandez, and Jake Wood hit for the circuit in the first game, a 10-4 victory for Lary. In the nightcap, Colavito, Bubba Morton, and Roarke hit four-baggers in a 9-3 win credited to reliever Foytack.

In 1962 the Tigers started strong but slumped in June and July after Al Kaline, leading the team with a .336 average, suffered a broken collarbone on May 26 while making a diving, sliding catch against the Yankees. “If it is possible for an entire ball team to become collectively sick at the stomach,” wrote Kaline biographer Hal Butler, “that is what the Tigers did.”16

Morale sank, Kaline was out for two months, and others suffered subpar seasons. Cash, after leading the league with his .361 mark, averaged .243, although he connected for a team-high 39 homers and drove in 89 runs. Colavito followed his banner 1961 season by hitting .273 with 37 homers and a team-best 112 RBIs. Frank Lary, recording 23 wins in 1961, was injured on Opening Day, and he struggled through a 2-6 season. Dick Brown played in 134 games and slipped to .241, contributing 12 homers and 40 RBIs. Roarke, playing 56 games, seemed to be forgotten at first, playing in only seven contests before June 3. He finally lifted his mark above .200 with a 3-for-4 game in a 10-3 win over Washington on August 8. Overall, he hit .213 with 4 home runs and 14 RBIs. Kaline came back strong on July 23, finishing the year with a team-high .304 mark, 29 home runs, and 94 RBIs. The Tigers, who won 12 of their last 15 games, finished fourth with an 85-76 record, but they were still disappointed after racking up 101 wins in 1961.

The Tigers appeared ready to make another run at the pennant in 1963, but instead the Motor City ball club got off to another slow start. When the Bengals hit what became a 10-game losing streak on June 11, front office personnel were frustrated. On June 15 the moves began. Detroit reacquired outfielder George Thomas from the Los Angeles Angels, giving up sore-armed Paul Foytack and utility man Frank Kostro. Detroit also sent pitcher Dick Egan to Triple-A Syracuse and brought up pitcher Willie Smith and slugging outfielder Gates Brown. Veteran catcher Gus Triandos, who was acquired with Whitey Herzog by the Tigers in the offseason for Dick Brown, was largely shelved in favor of rookie Bill Freehan, the Tigers’ catcher of the future, who signed for a $100,000 bonus, played 100 games, and batted .243. The onetime University of Michigan football and baseball star, a native Detroiter, showed the skills that later made him the Tigers’ on-field leader, an 11-time All-Star, and a Gold Glover from 1965 through 1969.

Roarke, regarded as valuable insurance at catcher, enjoyed his best season at the plate. He showed little power, but he batted .318 in 23 games, and, in effect, he was a coach on the field. Freehan’s rise numbered Roarke’s days, but Bob Scheffing needed a solid backup. “I don’t believe there is a better catcher in the league,” Scheffing said in a story carried by the Pawtuxet Valley (Rhode Island) Times in March 1963. “He [Roarke] does an excellent job of handling the pitchers and has a strong and accurate arm.” Mike had great confidence in his ability as a player. “I’m not fooling myself – I know I’ve been a second-stringer for a lot of years,” he said. “I can understand why too. But that doesn’t mean I accept it.” He was ready to take over as catcher when needed.17

Regardless, on June 17, Scheffing, named manager of the year in 1961, was fired, along with his entire coaching staff. Jim Campbell, the Tigers’ new general manager, concluded Scheffing was too easygoing with players. Detroit hired peppery Charlie Dressen as manager. In the end, the Bengals finished tied for fifth with a 79-83 record, evidently far removed from the team that fought the Yankees for the pennant in 1961.

Roarke came back in 1964 for what became his final season as a player, and the Tigers improved under Dressen, finishing in fourth place with an 85-77 record. Roarke was the number two receiver, averaging .232 in just 93 plate appearances in 29 games. Now Bill Freehan was the “iron man,” playing 144 games and batting a team-high .300 with 18 homers and 80 RBIs. Shortstop Dick McAuliffe, already a sparkplug figure in the lineup and clubhouse, led the club with 24 homers, hitting .241 while contributing 66 RBIs. Cash, a stellar first baseman, batted .257 and belted 23 homers, driving in a team-high 83 runs. Gates Brown, later best known as a clutch pinch-hitter, started in left field and batted .272 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs, making him one of seven Tigers to reach double digits in home runs in 1964. Right-hander Dave Wickersham, enjoying the finest season of his 10-year career after being acquired from the Kansas City A’s, fashioned a 19-12 record with a 3.44 ERA, and Mickey Lolich, Detroit’s best left-hander since Hal Newhouser, posted an 18-9 mark with an ERA of 3.26. No other Tiger pitcher won more than eight games.

The likable Roarke, 33, nominated by Kaline as Detroit’s player representative and voted in by his teammates,18 caught 27 games and fielded .994, seven points above his lifetime mark. Mostly he caught the second games of doubleheaders. Jim Campbell liked and respected Roarke; the Tigers, loyal to trusted players, hired Mike as the bullpen coach to help Charlie Dressen for the 1965 campaign. Roarke, who was selling life insurance in Rhode Island in the offseason, would be ready for activation, if one of the Tigers’ receivers — Freehan, little-used John Sullivan, or untested rookie Jackie Moore — was injured.19 Roarke served as Detroit’s bullpen coach for the 1965 and 1966 seasons.

Roarke had a long and useful coaching career, mixed in with five seasons of minor league managing. The California Angels hired him as a bullpen coach in 1967, but he switched to pitching coach for the 1968 and 1969 seasons. He returned to the Tigers as pitching coach in 1970, replacing the departed Johnny Sain. From 1971 through 1975 Mike was a minor league manager for the Detroit organization at Toledo, for the now-Atlanta Braves at San Antonio and Evansville, and for the Chicago Cubs at Wichita. In 1976 and 1977 he traveled around the country as the roving pitching instructor for the Cubs’ farm teams. The major league club brought him to Chicago to work with the Cubs’ pitchers in 1978, 1979 and 1980. Preferring to work nearer home, Mike coached with the Pawtucket Red Sox in the first three campaigns of the 1980s. In 1984 the St. Louis Cardinals signed him as pitching coach, partly to work with Bruce Sutter, and Roarke remained there through the 1990 season.20 From 1991 to 1993 he was the San Diego Padres’ pitching coach, and he coached for the Red Sox in 1994.21

On April 26, 2002, Roarke, who lived all of his life in Rhode Island, was inducted into the state’s Heritage Hall of Fame. The West Warwick newspaper pictured Merry Sue with Mike next to his plaque after ceremonies at the Providence Convention Center. Mike, who was inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame 30 years earlier, thanked those responsible for the honor. Asked in 2014 about favorite experiences, Roarke said mainly it was playing the game. Altogether, he spent 42 years in baseball as a player, coach or minor league manager.22

Everyone has their favorites in baseball. Roarke once got a standing ovation for walking from the bullpen to the dugout. The applause occurred after a game with the Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1961. After waiting patiently for the former Boston College great and hometown hero to appear in the game (he didn’t play that day), 500 nuns rose and applauded Mike as he walked back to the dugout when the game was over – proof that all players have special moments.23

Roarke’s biggest fan was President John F. Kennedy. In the home opener for the Washington Senators at Washington’s D.C. Stadium against the visiting Tigers on April 9, 1962, the president came to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and to watch the game. When it rained in the early innings, Kennedy took shelter in the umpires’ dressing room. “All the president could talk about was Mike Roarke,” observed umpire Charley Berry. “He remembered when Mike was captain of the baseball and football teams in the same year at Boston College.”24

Always a team player, Mike Roarke played an important part in Detroit’s 1961 pennant run, he served as the Tigers’ number two catcher and coach on the field for three more seasons, he embarked on a long and meaningful journey as a coach and minor league manager, and, overall, he enjoyed a memorable professional baseball career.

Last revised: June 25, 2014



Clippings from Mike Roarke’s scrapbook, supplied by his daughter Susan (see below).

Interviews with Roarke on June 11, 2007, October 25, 2013, and March 7, 2014. I also spoke to Merry Sue Roarke on March 7, 2014, and she sent me more than one e-mail message.

Various articles from The Sporting News from 1954 through 1964.


Baseball-reference.com has useful information about teams and players for each season, and Roarke’s game logs were particularly useful.


Butler, Hal. Al Kaline and the Detroit Tigers. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co. 1973.

1961: Detroit Tigers: Official Yearbook. Detroit: Detroit Baseball Company. 1961.

Harrigan, Patrick. The Detroit Tigers: Club and Community, 1945-1995. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1997.


Associated Press. “Sutter to enter Hall of Fame wearing Cardinals Hat,” January 11, 2006. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2288742.

“Captain Mike Roarke Dons Eagle Football Spangles for Last Time; Coaching Staff Unanimous in High Praise of Wingman; Ten Touchdowns Scored by Mike in Varsity Career,” The Heights, November 30, 1951: http://newspapers.bc.edu/cgi-bin/bostonsh?a=d&d=bcheights19511130.2.5.

‘Tigers Glad to Have Mike Roarke Around,” Pawtuxet Valley Times, n.d. [March 1963].

Kaplan, Jim. “Superbly Suited for Sutter.” Baseball, clipping not dated [1984].

Krasner, Steven. No headline; clipping about Roarke as pitching coach. Providence Journal. 1991.

Smith, Amby, “After 31 Years ‘On the Road’ with Baseball, Mike Roarke is Finally Home in Cranston,” Cranston Monthly, May 1, 1999.

Smith, Amby. “Roarke Inducted to RI Hall of Fame.” Kent County Daily Times. April 30, 2002.



1 “12 – Mike Roarke,” 1961: Detroit Tigers: Official Yearbook (Detroit: Detroit Baseball Co., 1961), p. 29.

2 Amby Smith, “Roarke Inducted to RI Hall of Fame,” Kent County Daily Times, April 30, 2002.

3 Interview with Mike Roarke, June 11, 2007. Much of the background material came from three interviews with Roarke.

4 “Captain Mike Roarke Dons Eagle Football Spangles for Last Time…,” The Heights, November 30, 1951: http://newspapers.bc.edu/cgi-bin/bostonsh?a=d&d=bcheights19511130.2.5.

5 Pito Alvarez de la Vega, “Caguas Wins First Round of Playoffs,” The Sporting News, February 9, 1955, p. 28.

6 Interview with Roarke, March 7, 2014.

7 All minor and major league statistics on Roarke can be found on his page on Baseball-Reference.com. See: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/roarkmi01.shtml.

8 Interview with Roarke, March 7, 2014.

9 Message from Merry Sue Roarke, April 25, 2014.

10 Watson Spoelstra, “Tigers Tap Flag Beat to 20-Win Tempo of Lary-Bunning Duel,” The Sporting News, September 6, 1961, p. 4.

11 Interview with Roarke, June 11, 2007.

12 Spoelstra, “The Detroit News Sports Quiz” [Spoelstra interviewed Roarke], Detroit News, February 17, 1965, clipping from Roarke Scrapbooks.

13 Interview with Roarke, October 25, 2013.

14 Spoelstra, “Kaline Purring Pace Helps Hide Rattle in Motor City Runabout,” The Sporting News, September 13, 1961, p. 6, summarized the Tigers’ three losses in New York.

15 See Hal Butler, Al Kaline and the Detroit Tigers (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1973), pp. 102-116, for a summary of Detroit’s 1961 season.

16 Butler, Al Kaline, p. 123.

17 “Tigers Glad to Have Roarke Around,” Pawtuxet Valley Times, not dated [March, 1963], clipping from Roarke Scrapbooks.

18 “With Kaline as Campaign Pilot, Roarke Couldn’t Fail,” clipping, not dated [April, 1964], Roarke Scrapbooks.

19 Spoelstra, “The Detroit News Sports Quiz,” Detroit News, February 17, 1965, clipping from Roarke Scrapbooks.

20 Jim Kaplan, “Superbly Suited for Sutter,” Baseball, not dated [1984], clipping from Roarke Scrapbooks.

21 Amby Smith, “After 31 years ‘On the Road’ with Baseball, Mike Roarke is Finally Home in Cranston,” Cranston Monthly, May 1, 1999, Roarke Scrapbooks.

22 Smith, “Roarke Inducted to RI Hall of Fame,” Kent County Daily Times, April 30, 2002.

23 “Tigers Glad to Have Roarke Around,” Pawtuxet Valley Times, not dated [March, 1963].

24 “Had Real Admirer in Late President,” clipping, not dated [March, 1964], Roarke Scrapbooks.

Full Name

Michael Thomas Roarke


November 8, 1930 at West Warwick, RI (USA)


July 27, 2019 at Cranston, RI (USA)

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