Rich Moscarello was proud of his Italian heritage but chafed at a clerical error that an immigration official made when his grandfather, named Valentino, arrived in the United States.
“Someone changed it to Valentine,” his half-sister, Reta Jackson Bryant, said. “He said he would have gone by his first name if it was Valentino.”
Among six half-siblings and two step-siblings, however, Mr. Moscarello had a lighter nickname: “The Grump.”
“He was grumpy, but he was a lovable grump,” Mrs. Bryant said with a laugh.
Mr. Moscarello, an equipment staffer for the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts and equipment manager for the Johns Hopkins University’s athletics programs, died Aug. 1 at his apartment in Baltimore due to undetermined causes. He was 68.
Colts owner Jim Irsay and a number of former players paid tribute to Mr. Moscarello on Twitter.
Mr. Moscarello was born in Detroit to Valentine Moscarello, a furniture delivery worker, and Margaret Jackson, a secretary. He hungered for sports, rooting for his hometown Tigers and Red Wings. In high school, he volunteered as a statistician for the football, basketball and baseball teams and earned a reputation as “a walking encyclopedia of sports trivia,” his sister said.
Mr. Moscarello enrolled at Michigan State, where he served as a student equipment manager intern for the football team for one season. During that year, he ate lunch with then-head coach Darryl Rogers every day, according to a friend, Richard Martinovich.
“I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He said, ‘No. We ate, and it was just the two of us for the whole year,’ ” Mr. Martinovich said. “They just kind of got along real well and enjoyed each other’s company. I just thought, ‘Wow, that had to be a thrill for a young kid.’ ”
After graduating from Michigan State in 1977, Mr. Moscarello worked at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia, as an equipment manager. In 1978, he joined Johns Hopkins’ equipment staff, eventually becoming the equipment manager.
Baseball coach Bob Babb said Mr. Moscarello — who was known on campus as “Moscey” (pronounced MOS-key) — was willing to help any athlete or coach burdened by an equipment problem. He also said that Mr. Moscarello attended as many home athletic events as he could.
“He was Mr. Hopkins worker/fan to the nth degree,” Mr. Babb said. “He was just a fixture at Hopkins for all of those years. … He was well-liked by everybody that knew him at Hopkins.”
Mrs. Bryant said from her home in Colfax, Louisiana, that her brother loved the fervor of college athletics.
“It just made him feel good to be able to work with the athletes,” she said. “Sports was his life.”
Shortly after landing the job at Johns Hopkins, Mr. Moscarello applied to help the Detroit Lions during training camp, but did not get a reply. When he inquired with the Colts, he was offered a job in 1980 taking care of laundry during camp.
“He liked getting to know the players and the different personalities that they had,” Mrs. Bryant said. “He liked talking to the head coaches and assistant coaches.”
Mrs. Bryant said her brother enjoyed strong relationships with Mr. Irsay, former head coaches Tony Dungy and Chuck Pagano and former quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. She said her brother was invited to join the Colts when they visited Baltimore, Washington or Philadelphia during the regular season and that he worked when the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears to capture Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007.
For his efforts, Mr. Moscarello was given a Super Bowl ring.
“He was so happy and so proud of it, and so was I,” Mrs. Bryant said. “When he got his ring, it was real. The only difference between his ring and the players’ was his did not have the ruby on it.”
Mr. Martinovich said Comstock High School in his town of Kalamazoo, Michigan, uses Colts as its mascot and also wears blue-and-white uniforms. When Mr. Martinovich asked Mr. Moscarello for posters from the Colts, Mr. Moscarello included an autograph from a player or coach. One year, it was Mr. Luck. Another year, it was Mr. Pagano.
“The kids always loved that and looked forward to it,” Mr. Martinovich said. “He would do things like that. He had a big heart.”
Mr. Martinovich said Mr. Moscarello told him that as training camp in 2017 neared its end, Mr. Pagano singled out Mr. Moscarello for his 38th camp.
“All the players got up, and they all gave him a standing ovation,” Mr. Martinovich said, adding that Mr. Pagano directed Mr. Moscarello to join the players for a pregame coin toss before a preseason game. “They realized that he had been doing these camps longer than most of them had been alive, except for a few coaches. He was really touched by that.”
In addition to sports, Mr. Moscarello enjoyed listing to rock ’n’ roll, especially The Beatles, and old-time radio programs, according to his sister. Mr. Martinovich said Mr. Moscarello owned about 1,100 cassettes containing radio shows like “The Lone Ranger” and was a history buff who digested books about World War II and the United States.
Mr. Moscarello will be cremated, and his remains will be transferred to Byron, Michigan, to be buried next to his mother.
In addition to his sister, Mr. Moscarello is survived by two stepbrothers, Clinton Jackson of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, and Christopher Jackson of Plymouth, Indiana; one cousin, Gary Montee of Pensacola, Florida; and numerous nieces and nephews.