A small town in the Ozarks lost its hero this week. West Plains is mourning the death of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers’ pitcher Elwin Charles “Preacher” Roe, who died on Sunday. KSMU’s Brett Moser reports.
"Preacher" Roe pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1949, 1952, and 1953 World Series, each match up against the New York Yankees.
Though Roe never won a series ring, the left handed pitcher was a standout player in the National League throughout the 40s and early 50s during baseball’s heyday, playing alongside legendary Dodgers Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese.
Roe’s career began in 1938 with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he pitched only one losing game before being shipped off to the team’s minor league for five seasons.
It wasn’t until 1944 that he was traded to the Pittsburg Pirates. The next season, he racked up 148 strikeouts, the highest number in the National League.
But Roe’s real claim to fame was during his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1951, he led the team to the World Series with a pitching record of 22 wins and only 3 losses. This record led The Sporting News to name Roe “Pitcher of the Year.”
After the 1953 season, the Dodgers sold Roe to the Baltimore Orioles. But unable to keep up with the physical demands of the game late in his career, he retired from baseball in 1954.
Roe eventually opened up a grocery store in West Plains and held positions on the town’s Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. His legacy in the town is commemorated by a stretch of Highway 160 in West Plains named Preacher Roe Boulevard. He died this week in West Plains at the age of 92 after a long illness.
For KSMU News, I’m Brett Moser.