Over 100 family, friends and colleagues celebrated the life of Peter Flintoff in the Tony Peek Pavilion on Sunday, February 27. Several speakers talked about Pete, along with some pre-recorded testimonials from people who couldn’t be there on the day.
We publish these tributes as a permanent record of a great Waverley Baseball clubman, and supporter of baseball in general.
Click here to see Phil Dale’s video tribute to Peter Flintoff
Click here to see Luke Hughes’ video tribute to Peter Flintoff
Click here to see Neil Burke’s video tribute to Peter Flintoff
Click here to see Adam Bright’s video tribute to Peter Flintoff
Hi everyone. My name is Adrian Dunn and I’m proud to have called Pete Flintoff a very dear mate for more than 25 years.
Today, we are all gathering at one of Pete’s favourite venues and some would say his second home – Napier Park.
And, even more importantly we are here with all his Waverley Baseball Club family. It’s not a throw away line – Pete considered everyone who played at Waverley, whether it was during Summer or Winter, part of his extended family.
Like me, Pete fell in love with the Waverley Baseball Club when he first brought Mark down to play for the Club in the mid 1990s.
Few, if any, people saw more Waverley games – juniors or Seniors – than Pete. He embraced the Club like few others, contributed to it significantly with the foundation of the Club web site and it’s fair to say Pete’s no-holds barred match reports were must reads from not only the Waverley faithful, but opposition team players and supporters and, indeed, Baseball Victoria.
There was not too many Mondays that passed without the Club receiving a ‘please explain’ call or email after Pete may have trodden on a few sensitive toes with his post game remarks.
The least person concerned with the apparent outrage was Pete. ‘Just calling it as I saw it’; ‘Can’t see what all the fuss is about’ or ‘They don’t have to read it if it upsets them’ were among Pete’s favourite’s go to responses.
Even when the phone in the Clubhouse rang with the threat of bodily harm to him, Pete just turned away and said ‘can i buy someone a drink’. I don’t think the phone has ever rung again.
I can still vividly recall when Andy Karetsky, a likeable young American who owned the Waverley and then the Melbourne Reds in the early to mid 1990s, mentioned that he sat next to a chap on a plane trip that he said I’d get along with famously
Andy said this guy was a sports aficionado with a particular penchant for baseball with a keen interest in information, data and stats. He also said the guy had a welcoming, easy going demeanour and keen sense of humour.
And, yes he said the guy had a liking for a cool drink on a warm day or a cool drink on a cool day for that matter.
Andy set up a meeting @ the Reds’ then Moorabbin headquarters between myself & that guy.
That guy was Pete Flintoff & Andy’s form card was on the money.
Pete & I hit it off straight off the bat.
It wasn’t long before the pair of us embarked in an ambitious project – publishing what became known as the Flintoff Dunn Almanac, which for those unaware – and that’s entirely possibly everyone given it never made the New York Times best seller list or any list for that matter, detailed everything & I mean everything, about the Australian Baseball League and all those players who played in it even if it was just for a cup of coffee.
While the Almanac carried my moniker my contribution was a modest player profile on all the players – it was Pete who did all the heavy lifting setting up all the data matrix that would spit out every imaginable statistic. It was a veritable encyclopaedia of Australian baseball.
Pete’s love affair with the Alamac and the accompanying Flintoff & Dunn website lasted until his final breath. He would daily update the statistics of every Australian who played professionally in the United States.
It’s a mark of how Pete was held in the Australian baseball community that when news spread of his death, Jimmy Beresford, Liam Hendricks & Graeme Lloyd, Luke Hughes were among the many who reached out with words of sadness, shock & condolences to Michelle, Brett, Mark & Kim.
But my friendship with Pete extended well beyond our beloved Almanac.
Pete’s son Mark & my son Jack found themselves not only playing junior baseball @ Waverley but also in the same age group and mostly the same team as they progressed through the various under age teams. They even coached junior teams together @ Waverley.
My job @ the Herald Sun meant I worked each & every Sunday & that presented a problem: how to get Jack to baseball on a Sunday.
No sooner than I mentioned this in passing that Pete declared he had a solution – he & Michelle would pick up Jack even if it meant they drove past Napier Park to collect Jack @ my Mt Waverley home.
This just didn’t happen just a handful of times. He did it for years and when Jack graduated to playing Seniors, Pete ensured that Jack found his way to the afternoon venue for the Senior game.
Pete Flintoff encapsulates the definition of a true friend – fiercely loyal, generous to a fault & always interested & caring for people. That’s the sort of guy he was. Always there for support in troubled times and always interested in what you were doing.
Pete had a genuine interest in people.
Pete was an unapologetic Waverley fan and he would staunchly support the Club and its players. It was that unflinching loyalty that was among his finest qualities. If you were part of the Waverley you could count on having Pete’s back.
Pete loved everything about Waverley. He loved seeing the juniors progress through the under age ranks of Rod Paton and Dave Warren and then debut for the Firsts’.
Whenever a junior player ventured into the clubhouse, Pete would make him feel as if he was a 10-year veteran. “Great cap,” Pete would remark. “Wear it proudly.”
Pete would love nothing more than greeting players after a game. He would not hear of them buying a drink – he was generous to a fault.
It’s only fitting today that we all charge our glasses to toast Pete – he’d love that.
Firstly, I would like to thank Michelle (Toots), Brett, Mark, Kim and their partners, for a chance to speak about their beloved Husband/Father Peter today, in what I think was his second home.
Believe or not, I heard Peter Flintoff way before I met the man.
In the days of the first ABL, playing at AFL Park before average crowds of 2500, there was always one voice after the game had finished yelling out, “Go the Reds”. Never put a face to that voice because we were on the ground signing autographs and this voice was up on the 1st level.
Then the Reds shifted down to Moorabbin and again after games had finished you would hear, “Go the Reds”. I kept saying, there is that bloody voice again.
So this day, we are playing at Waverley, I was assisting Phil Dale and I could hear thru the little window next to the bar, “Go Wildcats” and I am thinking to myself, there’s that bloody voice again!!!!!
I peer inside and ask Phil, “who is that John Candy look alike in the clubroom yelling out, Go Wildcats”. Phil’s reply was that he was an avid baseball follower who had followed the Reds and his son was playing in the juniors at Waverley. My reply to Phil was “I know he is an avid baseball follower as I have heard his bellowing voice for the last 5 or so years”.
From that day on Pete and I forged a friendship over many years and many, many beers.
I still miss his voice and personality whenever I walk back into these clubrooms.
On a serious note, the strength of the Waverley Baseball Club was built by some creditable families. The likes of, the Miles/Peek’s, Paice’s, Clarkson’s, Bownd’s, Ferguson’s and so on. I now include Peter and Michelle and the Flintoff surname as one of these iconic families who have made this club a better place to be.
I am so, so sorry I could not attend today, but I look forward to catching up with Toots and Mark the next time we cross paths at the club.
With all my love,