For the first time since 2007, the Gateway Grizzlies will have a new manager on Opening Day: 2019 Frontier League Manager of the Year Cameron Roth has been named the fifth skipper in franchise history and only the third since 2003.
Roth began his managerial career with the Lake Erie Crushers in 2017 and led the Northeast Ohio club to a pair of winning seasons over his three years in charge, including the 2019 Frontier League West Division championship, which the Crushers won by seven games.
“As I enter my 11th year in professional baseball and eighth year in the Frontier League, I can’t help but to reflect,” Roth said. “There has always been one away stand that I particularly looked forward to visiting each season, and it just so happens to be the one in Sauget, Illinois. I am excited and humbled to be joining the Gateway Grizzlies as their manager. The reputation the Sauget gamily, Steve Gomric, and Phil Warren have earned through a professional atmosphere, compassion for how the game is supposed to be played, and prioritizing their community is something I have always respected. I will work diligently to ensure the Grizzlies are the premier organization in the Frontier League. I have very big shoes to fill, but I welcome the challenge. I am grateful for Phil’s support during this transition, and I am thrilled he will continue to be a part of this organization.”
Roth previously pitched three seasons in professional baseball and finished his career with the Schaumburg Boomers in 2012. His earlier two seasons were spent in the Baltimore Orioles organization — 2010 with Rookie-Adv. Bluefield (W. Va.) and 2011 with Class-A Delmarva in Salisbury, Md. — after the O’s selected him in the 29th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft out of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The Newport News, Virginia, native was given the Elrod Hendricks Community Service Player Award while in Baltimore’s minor-league system. Given out since 1992, the award recognizes one minor league player whose level of community involvement is worthy of special recognition that truly stands out within the Orioles organization.
“I am thrilled to have Cam Roth leading our team this season,” Grizzlies general manager Steve Gomric said. “He is a bright young baseball mind with tremendous potential. He has a history of winning. Cam brings intensity to the playing field and professionalism to the clubhouse, not to mention the fantastic success his pitching staffs have had in the Frontier League that will be invaluable to us in a hitter-friendly ballpark.”
At UNCW, Roth was a Freshman All-American as a relief pitcher. He fought through injury issues as a sophomore to join the Seahawks’ rotation, then became a Second Team All-Colonial Athletic Association choice as a junior. Roth also pitched the 2009 summer for the Bourne Braves of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.
In 2019, Roth put his pitching acumen to good use, steering Lake Erie to an incredible 2.91 team ERA, the best mark in the Frontier League. The next-closest team posted a 3.30 ERA. Roth’s 2019 Crushers also led the league in strikeouts, batting average against, and fewest home runs allowed.
“As a manager, I am a huge advocate of the philosophy, ‘you are only as good as those with whom you surround yourself,’ and that extends beyond the players you sign,” Roth said. “Championships start in the locker room by establishing the right culture. I think Bobby Brown does a phenomenal job procuring the right players for independent baseball, and in this industry, that’s 90 percent of the battle to be successful. Also, Bobby’s knowledge and experience put into action as the hitting coach make him invaluable on this staff. The Grizzlies’ stadium is much different than others I’ve called home with it being a ‘hitters park,’ so to speak. We are going to have to learn to live with the solo home run, but we cannot afford to put people on base for free. Offensively, I firmly believe if you try to have at least seven experienced batters in your lineup, you are putting yourself in a good position to produce. Another addition to the coaching staff is James Keller, who served as my catching coordinator in 2019. He is the Swiss army knife of coaches, but he is especially effective with catchers. He will also coach third base. Having someone I trust there is particularly important, so that I can best manage the bullpen, as well as collaborate with Bobby for offensive strategy.”
Grizzlies fans will get the chance to see Roth’s club for the first time May 27 at GCS Credit Union Ballpark against the Florence Y’alls. Gateway’s 96-game schedule will run until Sept. 12, including a home game on the 4th of July to conclude a seven-game homestand and the Greatest Night in Baseball on Sept. 5.
Frontier League debuted in 1993 and is the largest of the Major League Baseball Partner Leagues, featuring teams stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the Ohio River to the St. Lawrence Seaway. More information and the complete 2021 schedule can be found at frontierleague.com.