Kenneth Scott Rogers (born November 10, 1964 in Savannah, Georgia) is a left-handed American Major League Baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. He has played for six Major League Baseball teams since his rookie year in . In addition to being known for sparkling fielding and for pitching a perfect game, Rogers also currently stands at 23 consecutive shutout innings in postseason baseball. He is currently the oldest baseball player in the American League.
His nickname, "The Gambler," is a play on country music star Kenny Rogers's trademark single The Gambler. He is also referred to as "The Roaster" by radio host Jim Rome in reference to the musician's restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters.
Assigned to the Texas Rangers farm team after being drafted in the 39th round for $1000 when he was only seventeen years old, he graduated from Plant City High School in Florida in 1982, where he played baseball only during his senior season, hitting .375 as a right fielder (he played shortstop in his senior league). He was converted into a pitcher on the strength of his throwing arm and left-handedness. Rogers spent seven years in the minor leagues before making it to the Rangers in 1989 as a reliever. He became a starting pitcher for the club in 1993.
During his career, he has played for the Texas Rangers (1989–95, 2000–02, 2004–05), the New York Yankees (1996–97), Oakland Athletics (1998–99), the New York Mets (1999), the Minnesota Twins (2003), and the Detroit Tigers (2006–present).
Rogers achieved notoriety among Mets fans during his tenure with New York. During the 1999 National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves, he entered in relief in the bottom of the eleventh inning of game six, with the Mets down three games to two. After surrendering a double and the baserunner advancing to third base on a sacrifice fly and two subsequent intentional walks issued to Chipper Jones and Brian Jordan, Rogers ended New York's magical season by walking Andruw Jones on five pitches with the bases loaded.
On June 29, 2005, after walking out onto Ameriquest Field for a pre-game warmup against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Rogers shoved two cameramen, knocking a camera to the ground. One of the reporters then resumed filming and Rogers shoved him again, this time kicking the camera after it had been knocked to the ground a second time. He had to be restrained and was sent home. Larry Rodriguez of Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex' Fox Network affiliate KDFW was taken to a local hospital, complaining of shoulder, arm and leg pain. While in the hospital, Rodriguez made an official complaint of assault against Rogers.
On July 1, 2005, Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rogers for 20 games and fined him $50,000. While an appeal of his suspension was pending, Rogers appeared at the 2005 All-Star Game in Detroit, Michigan. Rogers appealed the suspension, which was upheld by Selig. The commissioner was later overruled by independent arbitor Shyam Das, allowing Rogers to return to play after sitting out 13 games.
On July 18, 2005, Rogers was charged with a Class A misdemeanor assault charge with regard to Rodriguez and a Class C misdemeanor assault charge with regard to FSN Southwest cameraman David Mammeli. Rogers was cited and released on $1,500 bond. The Class A charge was later reduced to Class C following Rogers' completion of an anger management course.
On August 11, 2005, Rogers returned to the mound against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park. Rogers allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings, on the way to a 16–5 Boston victory. He finished 2005 with a 3.46 ERA in 195 1/3 innings. Shortly after the regular season ended, the Rangers announced Rogers would not return to the team.
On October 5, 2005, Rodriguez filed a civil suit against Rogers and the Rangers, seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages.
On December 8, 2005, Rogers signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. Rogers ended the 2006 regular season with a record of 17–8 and a 3.84 ERA. "We've needed a guy like that for a long time. I'm glad we went out and got him. ... He means a lot to our team and to guys like me," said Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman, on Kenny Rogers.
Rogers, on his first year in Detroit: "There's a lot of benefits here, by far, that you wouldn't know as a visiting player, and for me, I've been around quite a while, but I appreciate the town, the city, the people. The travel for a baseball player is very hard, but here it's not that difficult. It lends itself to being able to relax on certain days that you could get off. There's just more benefits, especially when you have the quality of people here like Dombrowski and like we have in Mr. Ilitch, those things that you can't take for granted. You add in Jim Leyland and the coaching staff here, and I just got lucky to choose this place... Right when I went in the door and met them, I knew. I knew where I was going to end up."
On March 30, 2007, ESPN reported that Kenny Rogers would miss three months after undergoing surgery for a blood clot in his pitching shoulder. He made his return on June 22 against the Atlanta Braves, pitching 6 scoreless innings and allowing two hits while earning his first win of the season.
A week later on October 13, Rogers retired nine batters in a row, in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Oakland Athletics, allowing only two hits and two walks in 7 1/3 scoreless innings, while striking out six and pacing the Tigers to a 3–0 victory, leaving the Tigers one win away from their first World Series since 1984.
Rogers started Game 2 of the 2006 World Series on October 22, 2006. "We wanted Kenny to pitch two games at home," Leyland said. He left the game with the Tigers in the lead 3-0, pitching 8 shutout innings, retiring 10 straight batters, striking out five, allowing only two hits, with three walks, making him the oldest starting pitcher to win a World Series game, and one of only two pitchers over the age of 40 to do so (Curt Schilling would become the second in 2007).
During the first inning, FOX cameras caught a smudge on Rogers's pitching hand. Rogers said it was dirt mixed with rosin from the rosin bag, wiped it off and pitched 8 scoreless innings for the win. Major League Baseball spokesperson Rich Levin said the incident was investigated, and the substance was described as dirt. Since it was not ruled to be a foreign substance, per Rule 8.02, Rogers remained in the game. In the process, Rogers extended his streak to 23 shutout innings. Examination of images from previous games has revealed similar smudges in two other games .