Jim Rooker is a retired Major League baseball player and broadcaster. He played 13 seasons and split time with the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a member of the 1979 World Series Championship Pirates. We had the privilege of interviewing him.
You spent 7 years in the minor leagues, before making your MLB debut with the Detroit Tigers – how did you stay motivated that one day the call would come?
Once the Tigers decided to convert me to a pitcher, things happened pretty quickly. I progressed from A Ball to Double A and Triple A. I was very stubborn and determined to advance. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I was lucky as well.
Do you remember when and where was the first time you were asked for an autograph?
It was so long ago that I don’t remember, but I’m guessing it was while in Triple A Toledo.
After that season, you were selected in the expansion draft by the newly formed Kansas City Royals for their inaugural season. Were you excited to join a new organization after being the Tigers for all of your pro career?
Very exciting because I knew I was going to get more of a chance to pitch, especially as a starter. Had I stayed with Detroit, I probably would not have gotten the opportunity.
How was it playing for manager Joe Gordon (Baseball Hall of Fame member) in 1969?
Very difficult. Joe had been away from baseball for 20years and we were a mix of young, average and career ending players.
What was your favorite moment during your playing career?
Without a doubt...winning the 1979 World Series. As a boy you dream of being a big leaguer, but to win a World Series is truly special.
After you retired from baseball you made a quick move to the booth as a commentator. How did that come about?
I had a very opinionated personality, that had a lot to do with it, plus I hurt my shoulder in 1980 and the opportunity was there, I interviewed for the job badly, but was lucky enough to get it.
"If we don't win, I'll walk back to Pittsburgh" are iconic words in the world of baseball broadcasting. Is that one of the most common things people talk about when they meet you?
A lot. I have to remind people that I did win over a 100 games, which wasn’t too bad.
Can you tell us what you have been up to recently?
Retired, completely, love to golf, fish and travel.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
That the fast ball is the best pitch you have, true way back then and true now.
What’s your favorite piece of advice to give?
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, never give up, and hard work does pay off.