Mar 4, 2016

The Only Mets Player To Be Born In England- Former Number One Pick: Les Rohr (1967-1969)

Leslie Norvin Rohr was born on March 5, 1946 and is the only Mets player to be born in England. He was born in the county of Suffolk at Lowestoft, the most easterly town in the United Kingdom, at its home to Ness Point. 

The Rohr family moved to the United States settling in Billings, Montana when Les was a young boy. He went to high school in Billings, Montana and became a star pitcher there.

The big six foot five lefty was chosen by the New York Mets in the first round of the 1965 draft, the number two pick overall behind Oakland’s Rick Monday.

Rohr was a big hard throwing, strikeout pitcher, whom the Mets scout Red Murff compared  to Ray Sadecki saying “he should be a twenty game winner in the majors”. The Mets chose Mr. Rohr ahead of their #12 pick, a Mr. Nolan Ryan.

The six foot five lefty made his debut at Shea Stadium on September 19, 1967 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went six innings earning the victory, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out six Dodgers. In his next start he only lasted three innings taking a loss to the Houston Astros.

Rohr was fantastic in his next outing, which came  at Dodger Stadium. He pitched eight innings of shutout ball, striking out seven while beating Don Drysdale. Rohr would go 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA striking out 15 batters in 17 innings pitched. The future looked bright for him as he was being penciled in as a starter on the 1968 team.

But in his first appearance of April 1968 he pulled a tendon in his pitching arm which pretty much ended his career. Rohr came into the game at the Astrodome in the 22nd inning, as the eighth Mets pitcher of the day. He would take the loss as Bob Aspromonte would reach base on an Ed Charles error as the winning run scored in the 24th inning. Rohr would pitch in one more game, but miss the rest of the  season.

The former number one draft pick only made one more MLB appearance, and that was in 1969. He pitched one game in September, as the Pittsburgh Pirates hammered him for four runs in just over an inning of work.

Rohr never recovered from his injury and when the Mets tried to trade him to the Atlanta Braves, it was discovered he had a ruptured disc in his lower back. His career was over at age 23. He was with the team, although not in uniform during the 1969 World Series & celebrated with the team in the clubhouse.

Retirement: After baseball he went into the concrete business and  became a high school pitching coach. He now operates the Big Rohr Pitching School in Billings, Montana. 

For many years now, he has been seen driving around town in a ’72 pickup truck with a license plate that reads “69 Mets”. He was invited to the 40th anniversary ceremonies by the team & they offered to pay all expenses.

The humble Rohr, declined because he felt he did not contribute enough to the 1969 team. "Sure, I'd love to see those guys again, but I don't know whether they want to see me," Rohr said with a laugh. "They probably would. I didn't do much, but it's still an honor to be associated with the '69 Mets." he said.

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