Clarence Roper

From BR Bullpen

Clarence P. Roper

  • Bats Right, Throws NA
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 160 lb.

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Clarence Roper was a minor league infielder starting around 1920 and going through 1937. He also was a minor league manager for seven seasons. His career ended following the 1939 season when he was banned for life from organized baseball for being involved in a scheme to play ineligible players.

Roper was born to Arthur and Margaret (Maggie) Roper during the mid 1890s in Missouri. Both of his grandfathers were born in Ireland. There are conflicting official records on the exact year of birth. The Social Security Death Index, which would be based on information that either Roper or his employer provided, lists an 1894 birth year. The US Census indicates that he was 15 in April of 1910 implying an 1895 birth year. His death certificate, which would be based on information provided by his family, lists an 1896 birth year. In 1910, the family was living in St. Louis.

In 1920 and 1921, Roper was the regular third baseman for the Kalamazoo Celery Pickers in the Class B Central League. Over the two seasons he hit .264 with 43 doubles, 17 triples, and 1 homer.

For 1922, he moved over to shortstop and hit .269 with 5 home runs in 133 games. At some point in the season, he started playing for the Central League Grand Rapids Billbobs.

Roper stayed in Grand Rapids for the 1923 campaign, but moved back over to third. The Billbobs were now part of the Class B Michigan-Ontario League. At the plate, he hit .290 with 18 doubles and 4 triples.

Clarence began 1924 with Grand Rapids, but found himself with the Hamilton Clippers by the end of the season. The Clippers were also in the Michigan-Ontario League. Posting the best numbers of his career so far, Roper hit .318 with 7 homers.

Roper saw action in just 98 games in 1925 for Hamilton. Since he hit .303, the reduced playing time was more likely due to injury than being benched.

Roper played for the Class B Virginia League Wilson Bugs in 1926 and 1927. Clarence hit .284 for the Bugs over two seasons with 46 doubles and 5 triples. He split his time in the field between second and short.

1928 saw Roper as the regular shortstop with the Winston-Salem Twins in the Piedmont League. He hit .301 for the season with 30 doubles, 6 triples, and 2 homers.

Roper had the best season of his career as a player in 1929 with the Kinston Eagles of the Class D Eastern Carolina League. After being used to the much better Class B pitching, Clarence feasted on the ECL pitchers to the tune of a .358 batting average and a .504 slugging percentage with 31 doubles, 3 triples and 8 home runs. Besides being the shortstop, for the first time in his career, Clarence was also the manager of the squad. His Eagles had a 46-71 record for a lowly sixth place finish.

For 1930 and 1931, Roper moved on to the Rock Island Islanders of the Class D Mississippi Valley League. While with Rock Island, Clarence spent most his time at third base. He hit a combined .306 in the two campaigns with 42 doubles, 13 triples, and 4 home runs. As he did in Kinston, Roper also served as his team's manager. His 1930 squad posted a 70-56 record which was good for second place in the Mississippi Valley League. The 1931 team came away with a losing record (61-65) and only managed a fifth place showing.

Roper stayed in the Mississippi Valley League for 1932, but he only played in 40 games splitting his time between the Dubuque Tigers and the Waterloo Hawks. Clarence, who was now in his late thirties, hit .309 in 165 at-bats. He also served as manager on both squads.

In 1937, while managing the Goldsboro Goldbugs in the Class D Coastal Plain League, the 40-something Roper played an occasional third base and collected 74 at-bats. He hit .203 with 15 hits - all singles.

For 1939, Roper managed the Lenoir Indians in the Class D Tar Heel League. At the time, the various levels in minor league baseball had salary limits that created creative book keeping practices by clubs across the country. William G. Bramham, "czar of baseball's minor leagues", found that the Lenoir team sent in reports of contracts for $3,465 while the actual payroll was $6,805. In addition, Roper played a man going under the name Bob Wells who was actually Mike Sime. Sime had been placed on the ineligible list in 1936 for activities that happened while he was a member of the Wausau Timberjacks in the Northern League. The team and its executives were fined while Roper and Sime were banned from baseball. Sime eventually found his way back into organized baseball with the Morganton Aggies in the Western Carolina League in 1948, but for Roper, his career in baseball was over.

Following his banishment from baseball, Roper made his home in Statesville, North Carolina with his wife Dorothy. The Statesville newspaper ran a front page story on Roper in December of 1954 highlighting his work for Happiness Exchange which distributed toys during Christmas week. Clarence was repairing old toys that people had donated. His usual employment at the time was doing "odd jobs around homes and gardens". By the time of his death in 1974, Roper had found work in a piston ring factory.

Roper died of pneumonia in Morganton, North Carolina on April 2, 1974. At the time, he was a patient in Broughton Hospital which is a mental institution. His death certificate mentions that he suffered from "chronic brain syndrome" or cerebral arteriosclerosis. He is buried in Iredell Memorial Park which is in Statesville. His widow, Dorothy, passed away on December 4, 1981 in Statesville.

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
1929 Kinston Eagles Eastern Carolina League 46-71 6th
1930 Rock Island Islanders Mississippi Valley League 70-56 2nd none
1931 Rock Island Islanders Mississippi Valley League 61-65 5th none
1932 Dubuque Tigers Mississippi Valley League -- none -- replaced by Dave Lamb
South Bend Twins Central League -- none -- replaced Jess Altenburg/replaced by Whitey Felber
1937 Goldsboro Goldbugs Coastal Plain League 47-51 6th none
1938 Goldsboro Goldbugs Coastal Plain League -- none -- replaced by Mule Shirley
1939 Lenoir Indians Tar Heel League -- none -- replaced by Lefty Guise

Related Sites[edit]