Bison reliever Mike Roesler was released from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization on Saturday afternoon for conduct unbecoming a professional ballplayer.
Roesler was taunted by a fan as he walked from the mound to the dugout during Friday night's 12-2 loss to the Oklahoma City 89ers. He responded with an obscene remark audible to fans seated in the vicinity of the dugout. He also made an obscene gesture.
Buffalo manager Marc Bombard first managed Roesler five years ago in the Cincinnati system. As far as managers and players go, they are relatively close. But Bombard saw no other recourse. He recommended that the Pirates release Roesler. The Pirates concurred, and Roesler was informed of his fate upon arriving at Pilot Field on Saturday afternoon.
"I figured I'd get fined or suspended, but I didn't expect a release out of the deal," Roesler said. "Pittsburgh needed to do something. It's no surprise that disciplinary action was taken."
Roesler was repentant as he reviewed the incident. He said that his actions were out of place and out of character.
"It makes me sad that I did that in a place where I've received almost nothing but support," Roesler said. "If you took a poll on this team looking for the guys most likely to do that, I'd probably come in 23rd. I'm not that kind of person."
Roesler had come on in relief of Danny Cox with none out and two men aboard in the fifth inning. He yielded a walk, a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single. Then came the play that broke the game open.
Dan Peltier hit a grounder that was fielded by first baseman Jose Tolentino. Tolentino threw to catcher Brian Dorsett in plenty of time to get the lead runner. However, the runner got in beneath the tag. Tony Scruggs followed with a two-run single, driving Roesler from the game and toward his encounter with the obnoxious fan.
"I wouldn't have said anything if I didn't see the guy," Roesler said. "When I looked up the guy stood up and said, 'It was me.' That's when it started to get personal. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it wasn't kind, I can tell you that.
"Fans have the right to come to the ballpark and enjoy the ballpark and experience the game whatever way they see fit," Roesler said. "But I know that anybody sitting near that guy can understand where I was coming from. (But) that's no excuse . . . ."
Roesler had been having a rough time of it this season. He allowed 14 earned runs over his last 11 innings. He leaves with a 3-5 record, six saves and a 5.50 ERA. He would also like to leave on the best terms possible.
"I would definitely like to apologize to the people of Buffalo," Roesler said. "They have shown me nothing but support. The fans who know me and my personality are probably as surprised by my actions as I am."
Roesler remained at Pilot Field for a few hours on Saturday to offer apologies and farewells. In addition to his coaches and teammates, Roesler spoke with Bison GM Mike Billoni and was awaiting the arrival of the team's operators, Bob Rich Jr. and Mindy Rich.
Roesler, 28, planned to return with his wife, Karen, to their home in Fort Wayne, Ind. He is awaiting word from his agent on what jobs might be available.