Photo of Phil Roof


Photo of Phil Roof
Photo of Phil Roof by Day in Photos Photo of Phil Roof by Ray Boetel
Former big-league catcher Phil Roof was named Tuesday as the manager of the 2003 Rochester Red Wings. The Rochester team begins a new affiliation with the Minnestora Twins after 42 years with the Baltimore Orioles.
Two years ago, Phil Roof was certain his managerial career was over. Then 59, Roof was asked to step aside as manager of the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A club and groom rising star John Russell as a bench coach. This came after Roof had led Salt Lake to a 90-53 record and been named the Pacific Coast League’s Manager of the Year. “But I thought a lot of John Russell and I wanted to see him succeed. So I did it. I thought I was done as a manager.” He’s not.

On Tuesday, Roof was named the manager of the 2003 Red Wings, who begin a new affiliation with the Twins after 42 years with the Baltimore Orioles. He becomes the 64th manager in the 116 years of Rochester professional baseball and replaces Andy Etchebarren, who was 115-173 (.399) in two dismal years with the Wings.

"Phil Roof is a dedicated baseball man and a real gentleman," says Twins farm director Jim Rantz, who signed Roof to a one-year contract. "He's old-school, but he is also a players' manager. They respect him." Bobby Cueller, a former pitching coach with the Seattle Mariners, Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers, will assume those duties with the Red Wings. He was the pitching coach last season at Edmonton, which won the PCL title. The hitting coach is former Red Wings outfielder Mike Hart, who played here in 1981 (with Cal Ripken Jr.) and 82. Hart, who comes over from the San Francisco Giants organization, also will assume third-base coaching duties. This will be Roof's 45th season in pro baseball. He was signed out of high school as a catcher by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959 – for a then-staggering $35,000 – and played parts of 15 seasons in the big-leagues with nine teams, ending his career in 1977 with the expansion Toronto Blue Jays, having appeared in only three games in their inauguaral season.

He appeared in the major leagues with the Milwaukee Braves (1961 & 1964), California Angels (1965), Cleveland Indians (1965), Kansas City Athletics (1966-1967), Oakland Athletics (1968-1969), Milwaukee Brewers (1970-1971), Minnesota Twins (1971-1976), Chicago White Sox (1976) and the Toronto Blue Jays (1977). Roof hit .215 with 43 home runs and 210 RBI in 857 major-league games. "Longevity is my memorable moment," the Kentucky native says with a laugh. "I ve caught some one-hitters, but never a no-hitter. I didn't have game-winning home runs or anything dramatic like that."

Roof has managed seven seasons at Triple-A – with Portland in 1989 and Edmonton from 1995-2000 – and has compiled an impressive record of 543-459 (.542). His teams have finished first or second in five of seven years, giving hope to Wings fans who have watched their club record the worst record in Triple-A the past two seasons under the Orioles. Roof is not to be confused with his brother, Gene Roof, who managed the Toledo Mud Hens a few years ago and is now a roving instructor for the Detroit Tigers. Rantz expected that Russell would manage the Wings next season, but Russell took a coaching job with Pittsburgh last month. Rantz said Roof was his first choice, but the veteran skipper wasn t sure he wanted to jump back into the fire. "It's a lot of pressure and a lot of extra work, he says. I kind of enjoyed the last two years, not having to answer that phone every morning and every night, and being responsible for 23 players, two coaches and a trainer. And yet ... I missed it," he says.

After talking with Marie, his wife of 38 years, Roof called Rantz back two days later. "Jim, I'm not going to hold you up any longer," Roof told Rantz. "I want the job." Roof says he lets the players play. "I don't hassle them too much," he says. "I make them show up on time and give them an opportunity to explore their talents." Occasionally, he has released a few players who got out of line. "You talk about shaking up players," he says. "They all towed the line after that." As for his style, Roof manages with the cards he is dealt. "If I ve got speed, I m going to use it," the grandfather of six says. "If I've got power, I m going to back off and hit the ball." Roof recently underwent his second knee replacement surgery and is rehabilitating at his home in Boaz, Ky. He is scheduled to make his first appearance in Rochester – ever – when he meets the media on Jan. 24 and then attends the annual Red Wings shareholders meeting the following day.

Name: Phillip Anthony Roof

Age: 61 (Turns 62 on March 5)

Kentucky man: Born in Paducah and lives in Boaz.

Family: Married to wife Marie for 38 years.
They have four daughters (all married) –
Colette, Melanie, and Melissa (who are twins) and Darla,
and six grandchildren.
Brother of Gene Roof and cousin of Eddie Haas.

Major leagues: A catcher for nine major league teams, from 1961 to 1977.

Managing & Coaching: He was named as the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year in 2000.
Led Salt Lake City to the playoffs in four of the last six seasons.
Rejoined the Twins as a manager for their Class AA affiliate from 1992-1994,
leading Nashville to a first half title of the Southern League West Division in 1993.
Began coaching career with the San Diego Padres in 1978.
Joined the Twins organization as their Class A affiliate manager, leading them
to a first place finish in both halves of the 1982 season.
Then managed their Class AA affiliate in Orlando of the Southern League in 1983.
Was a coach with the Seattle Mariners from 1983-1988.
Then rejoined the Twins as manager of their Class AAA Portland Beavers club in 1989.
Served as the bullpen coach with the Chicago Cubs from 1990-1991.
He is one of five brothers to play professional baseball.

Written by Jim Mandelaro - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Special to Canadian Baseball News – 11 December 2002

Front of OPEECHEE Baseball Card
OPEECHEE Baseball Card-Phil Roof
Front and Back of 1977 O-PEE-CHEE Baseball Card
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