A British Angel

“I honestly had no idea it was possible… I’m not really sure how [Great Britain] found out, but a coach contacted me in the middle of summer and asked if he could pass my information along to the Great Britain coach and asked if I was interested in playing, and I said, ‘Yeah, sure, that’d be awesome!”

Angels in the UK Editor Matt Thomas, writes on the illustrious heritage of our Angels.

Just one person (at the time of writing) holds the distinction of having represented the Angels in Major League Baseball, alongside representing the Great Britain national baseball team. Born in 1990, in Greenville, South Carolina, pitcher Michael Roth enjoyed a typical American upbringing, playing ball in both high school and college. Roth’s talent as a young player, however, led him to being a high school All American and winning two successive College World Series titles. In 2011 Michael was drafted by the Cleveland Indians but opted to stay in education and spent time in Europe, as part of his degree.

Like many other Americans Roth has family roots in Europe, Kettering in England to be exact, where his mother was born. Through this he holds dual citizenship and qualifies to represent both Great Britain and the United States, but until Team GB coaching staff made contact with him, Michael had no idea of his eligibility. “I honestly had no idea it was possible… I’m not really sure how [Great Britain] found out, but a coach contacted me in the middle of summer and asked if he could pass my information along to the Great Britain coach and asked if I was interested in playing, and I said, ‘Yeah, sure, that’d be awesome!”

“I think it deserves to be included as otherwise it is withholding a large group from participating and pulling on their national jerseys.”

On completion of his college career Roth was drafted by the Angels, in the 2012 draft, and was with their minor league affiliates, the Orem Owls, when the opportunity to pitch for Great Britain in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifiers opened up for him. Sadly for Britain they were unable to progress into the finals, and Michael was forced to concentrate on his MLB aspirations. It is important to point out that doomestic baseball in Great Britain lacks the funding and infrastructure that it deserves, having fallen from brief professional status in the 1890’s to amateur status, the Great Britain team did defeat the United States to win the 1938 Baseball World Cup, but the lack of funding today is a serious obstacle to international progression.

Following the Beijing Olympics, in 2008, baseball was shockingly removed from the Olympic programme, which for nations like Britain that allocated development funds to sports via Olympic status, and with London 2012 on the horizon, this was a huge blow. In 2013 Roth passionately called for the reinstating of baseball to the Olympics for Tokyo 2020, knowing the importance of that to British baseball hopes. He said; “I think it deserves to be included as otherwise it is withholding a large group from participating and pulling on their national jerseys.”

In April 2013 Michael made his MLB debut with the Angels, pitching two hitless innings versus the Houston Astros. Sadly for Roth his Major League career somewhat stalled, and he spent the next few years playing professional baseball on minor league contracts, for a number of MLB affiliates. In 2016 he made his final MLB appearance, for the Texas Rangers, and represented Great Britain again in their unsuccessful 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifying campaign.

In 2018 Roth announced his intention to step back from professional baseball, to concentrate on a new career in real estate. “I’ve never really liked the word retire” Roth said at the time, “Most people view retiring as not working and I will definitely be doing that! I view it more as a career change.” Michael pulled on the Great Britain jersey one final time in the 2019 European Baseball Championship finals, before bowing out of the sport. He reflected; “I’m just grateful that I had the opportunity to play at that level… Baseball provided me with a ton of opportunities. I got a chance to play overseas in Germany and in the Dominican Republic. I’ve traveled all over [the United States], I’m thankful for the time I got to play in those seven seasons.”

If you would like to share your own memories of how you became an Angels fan, about Britain’s own baseball heritage or your view on anything Angels related for Views Over the Pond please get in touch.

Published by Matt Thomas - Editor

Editor of the Yorkshire Baseball Journal and Archive, Editor and Chair of Angels Over the Pond.

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