Greg Victorian does not like to talk about hunting or fishing, but the mention of baseball is a different story.
“I grew up in the country, but I never go fishing and I never hunt,” the New Roads resident said.
“Start a conversation about that and I’ll just walk away, but if you start talking about baseball while I’m eating, I’ll talk until my food gets cold.”
At age 73, the lure of the game remains as strong as ever after nearly 60 years.
One of his fondest memories was attending Game 7 of the 1968 World Series when the Detroit Tigers bested his St. Louis Cardinals.
Victorian’s active career in semipro baseball ended 10 years ago, but it has not taken him away from the game.
He remains active in local youth baseball programs, in which he coordinates the schedules for teams in the Pointe Coupee Recreation program.
“I do it because I love baseball and I love the kids,” Victorian said. “I tell people that when I die, I want to be buried at third base – that’s where I want my funeral.”
His involvement in baseball began at age 14, a bit older than most who learn the game.
It almost did not happen.
“I was not even 5 feet tall as a ninth grader and I was slow and had no speed, and even though all my brothers were baseball players, I didn’t go out for the team,” Victorian said.
“My mother didn’t want me to go out for baseball because she thought I was too small.”
He was relegated to the sidelines for the first two weeks, but it did not last long.
The coach approached Victorian and told him to go home, get his birth certificate and join the team.
“I went into my mother’s room, looked all over for the birth certificate and never found it,” Victorian said.
“He told me not to worry, and that they would get one made.”
Victorian’s coach put him at second base and made him a member of the team, against the wishes of the teen’s mother.
“My coach straightened things out and I played four years and missed only one game,” Victorian said. “And we made the state championship game three years out of four.”
After his graduation from Rosenwald High School, Victorian was drafted in April 1969 and spent one year in Vietnam.
He followed active Army duty with 21 years in the Louisiana National Guard and worked 45 years as a carpenter.
In between his work, he made his baseball comeback.
Victorian and his son played for the New Roads Stars, a regional semipro league that competed across Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
Victorian remained with the team until he was 62.
“Sixty-five was my goal, but my wife said she wouldn’t be home to nurse me if I broke my ankle – those three years away were the three longest years of my life,” he said.
“Once I reached 65, I was fine because that’s when I planned to retire.”
Retirement did not keep him from the sport. He became involved in the Pointe Coupee Recreation summer youth baseball, which remains his passion.
Aside from the scheduling, he often steps to the plate as an umpire, usually when the league needs an extra official.
The sight of kids playing baseball makes it worthwhile.
“It’s good for the kids because it keeps them involved, keeps them in shape and takes them off the street,” Victorian said.
“Unfortunately, fewer cities have summer baseball leagues these days.”
“It’s something I love, and I can’t get away from it,” Victorian said. “Even if I had a broken leg, I’d find a way to be out here.”