Greg Biagini toiled in the minor leagues as a player and manager for 19 years.
He played everywhere from Quebec, Canada to Cuohuila, Mexico. He managed everywhere from Bluefield, W.Va. to Oklahoma City.
In 1992, he finally made it to the big leagues, serving as the Baltimore Orioles' hitting coach under manager Johnny Oates. He would stay with Oates and the Orioles until 1994.
“He would never give up,” Biagini's longtime wife, Vickie, said. “He spent 19 years in the minors as a player and manager. He didn't make (the majors) as a player, but he did make it as a coach.”
This week marks the 10th anniversary of Greg Biagini's death from kidney cancer. Vicki Biagini said it is a tough week for her family, but that they want to keep his memory alive. They hope to eventually provide support to the National Kidney Foundation in Greg's name.
While Greg and Vickie Biagini divorced in 2002 after 26 years of marriage, she said that she would not change anything if she had the chance to replay her life. A talk the two had near the end of Greg's life brought peace to both of them, she said.
“I would do the same thing all over again,” Vickie Biagini said. “Do I wish things turned out differently? Definitely.
“But he would not give up while in the minors. He would take teams and pull them together, getting them to work together. I am proud of him. I see the same qualities in our son, Tanner.”
Tanner Biagini played professional baseball himself, a member of the Tampa Bay Rays' farm system in 2010 and 2011. He is now an assistant coach at the University of Richmond.
Vickie Biagini said her longtime husband always put family first and worked to instill that quality in his players as well.
“He had a great love of his family and friends. He was just one of those types of guys,” Vickie said. “He told his players to speak to their moms in the stands.
“I am proud of what he did in baseball, but I am more proud of how he lived his life. He was always a players' manager. His door was always open, but you had better be ready to hear what he had to say when you would go in there. He was upfront with them.”
Vickie said Greg always took time to be with his kids - daughter Tanya and son Tanner - when he was managing in the minors. Greg took Tanya to the ballpark every day and would take care of her, even putting bows in her hair, while she was there. Greg would throw bating practice to Tanner after ballgames.
In 1998, the Biaginis went to Venezuela and Greg got sick, very sick.
“He was always the healthiest guy. He was healthier than his players,” Vickie said. “He never missed a ballgame. In Venezuela, he was as sick as I'd ever seen him. We got back and he had an ultrasound done because kidney disease runs in his family. I think 1998 was the beginning of (his cancer), even though the ultrasound didn't show anything.”
Greg Biagini was diagnosed with cancer in February 2003. He died eight months later.
“At first, I didn't believe him,” Vickie Biagini said of Greg's diagnosis.”We had always done work for the Kidney Foundation. His dad was a kidney patient for 17 years. He had an aunt die of kidney disease. His brother had one of his kidneys removed due to complications.”
Vickie said Greg committed his life to Christ late in life, a move he credited his son with triggering. A letter read at his Greg's funeral by a former player wanted Greg's family and friends to know that he had accepted Christ.
Vickie said that Greg's quick demise once diagnosed with cancer is an example of why no one should take tomorrow for granted.
“Never walk away angry. Tell family how much you love them and appreciate them,” Vickie said. “Hug them and tell them that every single day.”