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Monday, November 23, 2009

Peter Greenberg loses his battle with leukemia

Jim Ecker        
The baseball world lost a good friend Saturday when Peter Greenberg lost his battle with leukemia.

Peter, 57, was the general manager of the Diamond Vision Elite baseball program in Palm Beach County, Fla., but he’s remembered as more than a general manager or coach. He’s remembered as a good friend and a warm, generous and caring human being.

“We’re going to miss him, but when you touch so many people, his legacy will live on,” said Craig Gero, the head coach of Diamond Vision Elite. “People will talk about Peter for a long time, and tell their kids about him. What better legacy would you want to have?”

Peter was born in New York and moved to Florida about 30 years ago. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked the past 17 years for Passport Publications, becoming the associate publisher. He had a great passion for baseball and was devoted to giving boys a chance to play the game, often resulting in an opportunity to play in college.

“There wasn’t a person who didn’t love the guy,” said Chad Upson, who helped Peter start the Diamond Vision Elite program two years ago. “He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

Peter financed much of the program with his own money, easing the financial burden on the players. And he’d do everything for the team, whether it meant coaching first base, recruiting players or charting an opposing team. “He was there, every step of the way,” said Upson.

Peter was diagnosed with leukemia five years ago when he was running the Hammer Time baseball program, but he went through chemotherapy treatments and the disease went into remission. Tragically, it came back.

He was hospitalized in Tampa at a cancer treatment center this year, underwent a bone marrow transplant this summer and was unconscious for 10 weeks before waking up this fall. “I talked to him on the phone,” said Gero, who spoke with Peter on a regular basis. ‘He said, ‘Coach, I made it. I’m alive.’”

The players, coaches and families on the Diamond Vision Elite team visited Peter in Tampa this past summer on their way home from a tournament. They knew he was fighting leukemia and wanted to say hello to their good friend. Peter was touched by the visit.

“Players, coaches and parents, I could not be any more proud than I am right now,” he wrote in a blog dated July 17 on the Diamond Vision Elite web site. “You are all a very special group. You have lifted my spirits to no end. A visit in Tampa brought tears to my eyes. I am proud of your dedication on the field and your desire to win. I have followed your progress all the way. Brandon, hit a few more bombs for me. Mike, work hard. Brad, fight through the flu. Hell, all of you just do what you do. I am feeling better and getting ready for the big transplant. Good luck to you all and I love you all.”

The “big transplant” was the bone marrow transplant. He fought bravely to the end.

Peter’s friends plan to establish a foundation in his memory. Rubber wrist bracelets will be made for players, coaches and friends to wear that say “Coach Pete 100% No Regrets,” reflecting his philosophy of life. Players on this year’s team wore T-Shirts that said the same thing: “100% No Regrets.”

“Coach Pete put his heart and soul into everything he did,” Derek Niesman, a former player for Diamond Vision Elite, wrote on the guestbook page for Peter at the Loyless Funeral Home web site. “Words can’t describe how much I know he meant to all who have played under him. He wasn’t just there as a coach, he was there for you through anything. I know I will never forget you, Pete. You got me and made who I am today! I love you, big guy.”

Niesman currently plays baseball at East Tennessee State, one of many of Peter’s former players who have gotten a chance to play in college. Niesman helped Diamond Vision Elite compile a 44-4 record in 2008 in their first year.

Peter did not have any children of his own, yet had a passion for helping kids succeed in life. ‘He just likes seeing young men get a chance to enhance their education through baseball,” said Gero.

Peter will be cremated and his ashes buried at a family plot in New York. There will be a memorial service for him this March in Palm Beach County in Florida at a baseball field. He is survived by his mother, Phyllis; a brother, Don; and Peter’s ex-wife, Paula.

Friends may monitor the Loyless Funeral Home web site at for an upcoming video tribute to Peter, information on how to contribute to his baseball foundation, sign the guestbook and receive details on the memorial service.
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