UNION — Michael Roth is most easily recognized for his achievements as a pitcher but that’s not how he defines himself.
On Tuesday night, during Philippi Baptist Church’s Sportsman Supper Family Night, the former Gamecock told a crowd of approximately 500 about his relationship with Christ and how it has impacted his life.
Roth was accompanied by Newberry College Associate Athletic Director Jack Easterby who served for seven years as the campus director for the University of South Carolina’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Easterby conducted an onstage interview with Roth, first asking him to introduce himself.
“I’m Michael Roth, son of David and Debra Roth. I was born and raised in Greer. I’m a child of God which is probably the most important thing and I believe I was put on this earth to do something special and impact people,” he said.
No mention of baseball?
“Baseball is something I do, it’s not who I am,” Roth answered. “It’s just a job, something I enjoy doing. God has me as a professional baseball player and that’s my platform.”
Roth recounted stories from his youth and some from his days as a Gamecock, pointing out those defining moments that changed his perspective on what defines a person.
Easterby said that Roth began to see God early on in his career and that initiated what was probably the best career in USC history.
Roth explained that while his plan was to become a professional baseball player, the route to get there was a little different that he expected.
“When I came in as a freshman I was supposed to be a hitter,” he said. “I failed. I failed miserably. I went through a point in my life where I hit bottom because when you identify yourself as a baseball player and you’re not playing well, you start to to think, ‘Well, if I’m not a baseball player, then what am I?’ I didn’t know what I was and I had to go through some change and get back into God’s playbook.”
Roth transitioned from first baseman to pitcher that year.
“I pitched just because they needed me to pitch and I wasn’t hitting well,” said Roth. “Being a first baseman I’d make a lot of throws side armed to second base and at one fall practice Coach Calvi asked me if I’d ever dropped down from the mound, (threw side armed). I said, ‘No, I have not.’ So he took me in the bullpen and I threw about 20 pitches. He looked at me and went, ‘Yeah, looks good. How’s it feel?’ I said, ‘It feels horrible.’”
Roth said that he decided to trust his coach and that he knows now that it was God’s plan all along.
The left-handed specialist became a regular in the Gamecocks pitching rotation in 2010. He led the Gamecocks to back-to-back College World Series Championships in 2010-11 and was named a First Team All-American.
With only four starts to his name heading into the 2011 season, Roth compiled a 14–3 win-loss record and a 1.06 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 145 innings pitched across 21 games as a junior.
He declined an offer from the Cleveland Indians in 2011, opting to return for his senior year at South Carolina. When the 2012 season ended, Roth embarked on a professional career with the Los Angeles Angels, who selected him in the ninth round of the first-year player draft. He currently plays for the Angels’ rookie league team in Orem, Utah.
“It wasn’t the way I’d envisioned making it to the professional level but I trusted God and let him guide me,” said Roth.