Ralph V. Marchetti, a veteran city public schools educator who was also a familiar presence at Camden Yards, where he served as an usher for two decades, died Dec. 18 at his Overlea home of heart failure.
He was 65.
"Ralph was among the kindest and most wonderful teachers I've worked with in the 12 years I've been principal at Hampstead Hill Academy," said Matthew Hornbeck.
"Through the years, he's worked with thousands of kids at Hampstead. It was truly his life's work," said Mr. Hornbeck. "We're a high-risk school, and he was determined to get our students here on the right path."
The son of Vincent Marchetti, a Bethlehem Steel worker, and Sophia Luberecki Marchetti, a homemaker, Ralph Vincent Marchetti was born in Baltimore and raised in Dundalk and Rosedale.
After graduating in 1967 from Archbishop Curley High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1972 from what is now Towson University.
Mr. Marchetti began his 41-year teaching career at the Shrine of the Little Flower parochial school and at the Institute of Notre Dame. Before joining the faculty of Hampstead Hill Academy in 1996, he taught at Brehms Lane Elementary School and Roland Park Elementary School.
"He put in hours and hours working with the kids here. He cared deeply about them and how they treated one another. He was a great role model, and his classroom was a very kind place," said Mr. Hornbeck.
Mr. Marchetti was a "voracious reader," said Mr. Hornbeck, who added that he had a large library.
"Ralph never owned a TV or a computer. He got his news from the radio. He was a very cerebral guy who had an amazing appetite for books which he brought to his classroom," said Mr. Hornbeck. "He enjoyed teaching taught first-graders how to read."
In addition to teaching, Mr. Marchetti founded and coached the academy's chess club and established the MMASSAC Sports Club, an acronym for "Mr. Marchetti's After School Sports Activity Club."
A parent wrote to Mr. Marchetti in 2013: "You are a consummate professional. There was no time we encountered you — on the blacktop, in the classroom or at Camden Yards — that you were not an educator."
A sports fan, Mr. Marchetti wrote an essay several years ago on his summer experiences and various jobs through the years.
"One of the most memorable was working as a special projects driver for Johnny Unitas Air Freight in the mid nineteen-eighties," he wrote. "As a Baltimore boy with the last name of the Hall of Fame defensive end on the 1958 NFL Championship team, Gino Marchetti, working for the quarterback of that team was a singular thrill."
In 1994, Mr. Marchetti began ushering at the Flag Court level at Oriole Park, and later took up ushering duties in Section 230 where he became a familiar presence to fans.
"He'd give Cal Ripken cards to the children, and if it was a baby's first Orioles game, he made a big deal out of that," said his sister, Audrey E. Novak of Eldersburg.
He kept an annual journal and recorded his daily experiences as an usher in Section 230. Family members said he worked more than 1,000 games during the last 20 years and twice had been selected Oriole Park Usher of the Year.
He described Frank Robinson Day in 2012 when Hall of Fame outfielder's statue was unveiled.
"Being in the presence of Earl [Weaver], Frank [Robinson], Eddie [Murray], Hank Aaron ... and all the other VIPs was great," wrote Mr. Marchetti. "When Frank shook my hand, I can't think of a greater moment in my Oriole Park career."
"Being raised in the era of 45 RPM and 331/3 albums during the British invasion instilled Ralph with a passion for rock 'n' roll and pop music," said his brother, Gregory F. Marchetti of Pittsburgh.
"The Rolling Stones at the Baltimore Civic Center in 1965 and a Stratocaster in the hands of Bob Dylan lit a fire that burned throughout his life," he said. "A self-taught bassist, Ralph was a regular fixture in Fells Point and across the Baltimore metropolitan area."
Some of the bands Mr. Marchetti performed with included Buckeye, Southern Crust, Backslider, the Truetones, Slingshot and Go Man Go.
"Ralph's infectious musical energy, both onstage and off, fueled the drive of every performer, every set and every song," his brother said.
Mr. Marchetti retired from teaching in 2014 but returned to Hampstead Hill Academy as a tutor and continued to coach the chess team and the MMASSAC.
"He loved working with children," recalled his sister. "The day he died, he had been teaching at the academy in the morning and then he went home. He was to return in the afternoon, when he died."
"We are going to miss Ralph terribly. We loved him deeply," said Mr. Hornbeck.
In a letter to parents announcing Mr. Marchetti's death, Mr. Hornbeck wrote that the "Baltimore Kids Chess League will rename their novice tournament each year as the Marchetti Memorial Chess Tournament in his honor."
A private memorial service for Mr. Marchetti will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Hampstead Hill Academy, 500 S. Linwood Ave.
In addition to his brother and sister, Mr. Marchetti is survived by a nephew; two nieces; a great-nephew; and two great-nieces.
An earlier version misstated Gregory Marchetti's middle initial. It also misstated the number of surviving nieces and nephews.