Roche brothers inducted into softball Hall of Fame
Rob Potter | Democrat
In addition to their Francis Mott New York State Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame plaque which Rease Roche (standing second from the left) is holding, several former players from the Roche’s Garage team presented Rease and his brother Mickey with a plaque on behalf of all of the former players from the teams which competed from 1984 to 2002. Anthony Marceano is holding the plaque, which features team photos from the 1987 and 1996 seasons, to Mickey Roche (standing fourth from the left). Also pictured, from left to right, are Gary Spears, Dennis Dietrich, Mark Tyler, Andy Taggart and Kirby Tyler.
By Rob Potter
BINGHAMTON For nearly two decades, the Roche’s Garage softball team enjoyed success on fields here in Sullivan County, throughout New York State and in several states around the nation, including Pennsylvania, Alabama and Georgia.
Last Saturday night, the team’s sponsors, brothers James “Mickey” Roche and Maurice “Rease” Roche, were among the 10 honorees as the Francis Mott New York State Amateur Softball Association (ASA) inducted 10 new members into its Hall of Fame during a ceremony and dinner at the Regency Hotel.
The Roche brothers were honored for their meritorious service to the sport.
Others entering the Hall of Fame for meritorious service included Richard Germiller of Poughkeepsie, José Lopez of Mohawk, Richard McNear of Clifton Springs, Rich Passante of Highland, Bruce Wittman of Middletown and Kathy Zifchock of Bloomingburg.
The two players in the 2009 HOF class were John Fitzsimmons of Oswego and Craig McKenna of Millbrook.
Joey Rich, President of the ASA, was the special guest for the evening.
He said he was pleased to be one of the 209 people in the room for such a nice occasion. As the ASA president, Rich said he has been to similar Hall of Fame ceremonies around the country and “been all over the world, including at the Beijing Olympics.
“ASA is a family,” Rich said.
That sentiment was shared by some of the other honorees who spoke after receiving their Hall of Fame plaque, a trophy adorned with a gold glove, a gold watch and an ASA hat. They said that they have been treated very well and made many good friends while playing or umpiring at ASA tournaments throughout the United States.
Zifchock thanked the HOF selection committee.
“It’s a very prestigious honor,” she said. “I’m humbled by this.”
When they stepped up to the podium, the Roche brothers offered very sincere and heartfelt comments.
“We thank the selection committee for this honor,” Rease Roche said. “It was really the players who fired things up and made the team go.”
“Thank you to all of the players and coaches who helped make the Roche’s team so successful,” Mickey Roche said.
Among the former Roche’s Garage players who attended the ceremony to congratulate Mickey and Rease were Dennis Dietrich, Anthony Marceano, Gary Spears, Andy Taggart, Kirby Tyler and Mark Tyler.
Also on hand to congratulate the Roche brothers was Greg Hamilton, who was inducted into the Francis Mott New York State ASA Hall of Fame in 2005.
Hamilton, who won numerous MVP pitching awards in ASA Fast Pitch leagues and tournaments around the country, fondly recalled playing in a fast pitch tournament in the early 1980s at the Delaware Youth Center in Callicoon.
“Mickey and Rease are great guys,” said Hamilton, who lives in Middletown. “They asked me to come up and play in that tournament and I really enjoyed it.”
Kirby Tyler, a friend of the Roche brothers who has also worked at Roche’s Garage, Inc. since 1976, nominated them for the distinguished honor.
Back in 1984, Pete and Tom Drobysh approached Mickey and Rease to ask them if they would sponsor their team which had previously been known as Bud Light.
Mickey and Rease agreed to sponsor the team, which from 1984 to 2002 was consistently one of the best softball squads in New York State and the United States.
In those 19 seasons on the diamond, the Roche’s Garage team earned more than 100 trophies at dozens of tournaments.
In 1985, Roche’s placed second in the New York State Modified Tournament and won the ASA Nine-Man Class A Modified National Invitational Tournament in Drifton, Pa.
Two years later, in 1987, the team placed fifth in the ASA Major Modified Men’s National Tournament in Decatur, Ala.
Roche’s won the New York State Major Men’s Modified Championship in 1991.
Seven times (1988, 1989, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001) Roche’s Garage won the Edward M. Collins Memorial Tournament which is held every August at the park along Route 17B in Mongaup Valley named in honor of Collins, a 1970 Eldred Central School graduate and outstanding softball player.
The team won the Neal B. Turfler Invitational Tournament in Middletown 11 times (1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2001).
In 1989, Roche’s won the ninth annual Sullivan County Democrat Modified Softball Tournament.