MILWAUKEE -- To say former Milwaukee Brewers player Mark Loretta was a "scrappy" player doesn't do him justice. It diminishes his talent and his baseball smarts. Loretta played college ball at Northwestern University, but Loretta did hustle, and on teams that weren't very good. FOX6 caught up with the former infielder recently when the Packers played a pre-season game in San Diego.
The Brewers didn't win too many games in the late 1990s, but Loretta won a lot of fans with his steady play. He grew up at County Stadium and still owns the fifth best career batting average in franchise history at .289 -- ahead of Robin Yount.
"I just loved Milwaukee. I spent eight years there in the Big Leagues, 10 in the organization. Lots of memories and a lot of firsts. First Big League game, first Big League hit, first Big League home run, etc. The only regret is that we didn't have better seasons, and we didn't have better teams there. We really fought to barely get to .500 a lot of years," Loretta said.
Loretta wound up playing 14 years in the majors and is now a member of the Padres front office -- a near perfect setup for him, his wife Hillary and their family.
"Things are great. I'm enjoying retirement and doing some things for the Padres in the front office -- kind of a mixed bag of scouting, player development, a little bit of instruction, but really just living in San Diego, spending time with my two kids and being around baseball. It's been a good transition for me," Loretta said.
In uniform, Loretta was versatile. He was used all over the field for several different teams. Now that he is a special assistant for baseball operations in San Diego, it's pretty much the same thing off the field.
"If I had to decide right now today, it would be off the field. Coaching doesn't really grab me at this point, but that could change. I do enjoy going out and throwing BP to the Big League guys, so getting the uniform on occasionally is fun, but right now, I like the off-field more, I would say," Loretta said.
It is different to watch, rather than play.
"It's nice to not have that performance anxiety. Actually, it's nice to realize how much you know about the game once you step away and watch it from a different perspective," Loretta said.
For Loretta, it is awfully nice to be still living a baseball life that began for him in Milwaukee.
Loretta says he still keeps in touch with some of his former Brewers teammates, including outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, who also lives in southern California.