It was on an Oak Bay baseball diamond that Roy Moretti first caught a love of the game he would carry with him the rest of his life.
The longtime player, coach and mentor died earlier this year after a brief bout with cancer, but his memory will live on in the home team bullpen at nearby Lambrick Baseball Park, where Moretti spent many hours coaching the young pitchers of the Victoria Eagles Baseball Club.
During Saturday’s co-hosted opening ceremonies for the Eagles and Gordon Head at Lambrick Park Baseball Association, a bullpen bench was unveiled featuring an engraving of Moretti and the quote, “Pitching feels like the most natural thing in the world.”
Longtime Oak Bay ballplayer Martin Winstanley, chair of Eagles baseball, grew up with Moretti, who began his baseball career in Oak Bay Little League, before moving on to what was then Pony League at Carnarvon Park, Colt League at nearby Topaz Park and Senior Babe Ruth back at Oak Bay’s Windsor Park.
Describing Moretti as a “little kid with a giant heart,” Winstanley recalls that “the little kid grew into a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who after playing in the Senior Men’s League for three years, tried out for the Victoria Mussels in 1978, the year the franchise became part of the Single-A Northwest League.
“Roy cracked the Mussels roster as a walk-on and he went on to play 10 years of professional baseball on teams affiliated with the Blue Jays, A’s, Padres, White Sox and Orioles,” Winstanley says. “In between, he played a season in Japan with the Yakult Swallows.”
Perhaps his most memorable team, however, was the 1983 Utica Blue Sox, memorialized in Roger Kahn’s book, Good Enough to Dream.
“The Blue Sox, given no chance to win prior to the season, clinched first place in the New York-Penn League with Roy’s 2-1 complete game win. Roy’s pitching performances catapulted the Blue Sox to the league’s playoff championship that season,” Winstanley says.
Back on the Island, Moretti served as pitching coach with the Nanaimo Pirates for many years before returning to his hometown to coach the Eagles, travelling from Nanaimo multiple times each week for practices and games with both the Premier and Junior Premier Eagles.
“Roy Moretti was a champion – a great baseball player, coach and man,” Winstanley says. “Victoria Eagles Baseball will miss him.”
Anyone wishing to help needy young players cover the costs of pursuing their baseball passion are urged to donate to the Roy Moretti Legacy Fund set up by the Victoria Eagles and the Moretti Family. Cheques should be made payable to the Greater Victoria Baseball Association and can be mailed to Martin Winstanley, Eagles Baseball, Greater Victoria Baseball Association, 4157 Glendenning Rd., Victoria, B.C., V8X 2B4.