Preacher Roe dead at 93

Former Brooklyn Dodgers lefthander Preacher Roe has passed on at the ripe old age of 93. Roe, who long ago settled in West Plains, Mo., near his childhood home of Viola, Ark., had undergone colon surgery recently and never fully recovered. Elwin Charles Roe was a five time All Star and a central character on Brooklyn’s storied “Boys of Summer” teams.

Roe prided himself with keeping hitters off balance with his slider and his “Beech-Nut slider”. Players regularly chewed Beech-Nut gum at the time, he’d use juice from the gum on the ball, causing it to dip dramatically. After Preacher retired he admitted throwing a spitter, without regret, and wanted to pitch made legal. His best year was in 1951, at the age of 36, when he went 22-3 for the Dodgers.

Brooklyn Ralph Branca said he was called Preacher because “he could talk your ear off.” In an interview with an eighth-grader in West Plains, Roe expressed his pride in having had Robinson as a teammate. “I just felt if Jackie hit a home run while I was pitching, it counted just as much for me as if Pee Wee Reese hit it or some of the other guys that were white. … I’d say, ‘You never have seen a good ballplayer until you’ve seen him.’ He was that good.”

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