Writer's wealth was local scene
The sports correspondent had a passion for promoting Mahoning Valley athletes.
By MARK W. MILLER
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Bob Roth was respected by his family and many friends throughout the area for his honesty. He was a sports correspondent for The Vindicator and other publications for many years.
Thursday evening, Roth, 72, passed away.
"He loved baseball, loved sports, loved movies, loved history," said his son, Bob Roth Jr. "He knew batting averages for every Major League Baseball team from the 1920s on. Baseball was a passion with him.
"A lot of local boxing people had been calling Friday because they didn't know. He was still working on fight stories."
Roth's son, who runs a business in Youngstown, said, "My father's main thing as a writer was that he wanted the kids to get the credit. It wasn't about him."
Bob Hannon, WYTV sports director, said, "When I first started broadcasting sports, Bob Roth was one of the first people I met. He came up and offered to assist me. He told me, 'If you ever need anything, where I can help, I know a lot of people.'
"In my 18 years that I have been here, we talked at least once a week. Roth was a wealth of knowledge," Hannon said. "If I needed to know anything about high school sports or boxing, he put me in the right direction."
Greg Gulas is assistant director for student activities at Youngstown State and was sports information director from 1980-97.
"There was only one 'BR' and we in the media were the lucky ones to have had him as a member of our close-knit fraternity," Gulas said. "He was a character, someone who bled local sports and could quote a statistic from an event 50 years ago as if it happened yesterday.
"His knowledge of the fight game was second to none."
Denny Leibert, a long-time area broadcaster who is now with Clear Channel Radio, said, "Bob was rough around the edges, but the most honest human being I've known. I've known the man for 30 years and I will miss him a lot.
"I started to work for Channel 21 in 1976. Art Greenburg was sports director at the station [1970-76] and he hired Bob, who did high school football and basketball for three or four years," Leibert said.
"He wrote a column, 'The Business of Sports,' for The Business Journal. He brought out a story because he knew it so well. He really researched it thoroughly."
Leibert said Roth wrote all his stories on an old Royal typewriter until two years ago when he converted to computer.
"He was a versatile writer, from high school sports, boxing to movies. He loved movies," Leibert said.
Passionate about kids
Vindicator sports editor Rob Todor said Roth was one of the first people in town to greet him when he joined the newspaper in 1990.
"I worked closely with Bob because he covered a lot of high school sports for the paper," Todor said. "He was very passionate about the kids, especially the City Series schools. He always made sure he got as many names in his stories as possible.
"We always joked when he was doing the public address at games he had the longest introductions in the state, but the kids and I'm sure their parents really appreciated it."
Jack Loew, manger of middleweight boxer Kelly Pavlik, said, "Roth has done wonders for me with boxing. Yesterday was the first time in five years that I didn't talk with him. I'll miss him.
"We were really close. He was a versatile guy and knew about everything, sports, politics, history, movies. He was my lifeline.
"He kind of took the place of my father, who died in 2000," Loew said. "He pulled no punches and was a very interesting person. He was a character and a good guy. He told it like it was whether you liked it or not."
Calling hours will be Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Kinnick Funeral Home on Meridian Road. There will be a family-only funeral service Tuesday at Forest Lawn Cemetery.