Former Peoria Chiefs pitcher bitten by bear while hunting

Analis Bailey
USA TODAY

Minor league baseball player Dalton Roach was bitten by a bear this month near Eau Claire, Wisconsin, while hunting for deer. 

Roach, a former pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals Single-A Peoria Chiefs, was bow hunting in the Trempealeau County woods when a black bear climbed the tree stand he was perched in and bit him on his back.

"He was kind of moseying around. He didn't look like he was on any kind of mission or anything," Roach, who took out his cellphone to record the bear, told Leader-Telegram. "But when he got to about 20 yards away, he took a left turn and came directly under my tree."

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Roach, 25, who now pitches for Double-A Springfield, was putting his phone away when he heard noises below and realized the bear was climbing up the tree. 

"The next thing I know I can hear him right behind me and feel him breathing on my back," Roach said. "Then I feel a paw on my lap. He just kind of left the paw sitting there, so it's not like I wanted to make a big move and make him squeeze. Right when I thought this might be it, I decided I wasn't going to just go out and it was better to at least try to do something to get out of this situation."

Dalton Roach

Roach decided to make himself look as big as he could while screaming in attempt to scare the bear away. 

"Luckily, he kind of leaned back, seemed to say, 'What the heck,' and eventually got out of the tree," Roach said. 

Once the bear descended from the tree, Roach was able to call a friend to share the wild experience and ask him to drive towards the tree stand in the event the bear tried to return. 

"He didn't look like he was coming back, but I was still uncomfortable because we was looking at me a little too intently and has just been up in the tree gnawing on me," Roach said

Once the bear was no longer in sight, Roach was able to unclip himself from the safety harness he was wearing and made his way down the tree and towards his car. 

"I think I still had so much adrenaline pumping that there wasn't tons of pain going on and I could tell there wasn't a lot of blood dripping," Roach said.

With minor damage to his back, Roach went to the emergency room, where he was prescribed antibiotics, a tetanus shoot and a rabies vaccine regimen.

"I'm pretty fortunate that it's not some big nasty bite that took off half my back and that I'm still here and able to talk about it today," Roach told the Leader-Telegram Monday. "I still plan to hunt like usual. I am honestly not scared of heading back into the woods at all. It was a super rare situation and I am just happy to have made it out okay."

Roach started six games for the Peoria Chiefs in 2019, going 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 34 innings. 

Contact Analis Bailey at aabailey@usatoday.com or on Twitter @analisbailey.