Riverhead Tomcats manager retiring after 14 seasons, team to merge with North Fork Ospreys

Hearing the crack of a baseball bat and cheers from the fans alongside the diamond has always made Patti Moore-White feel right at home.

Since 2009, she’s been a fixture at Riverhead Tomcats games, donning the team’s signature maroon, calling the play-by-play and working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the baseball magic happening.

After 14 seasons volunteering with the team — the last six as its general manager — Ms. Moore-White announced this month that she plans to step down.

“It’s been a big joy for me,” she reflected recently at Sgt. Jonathan Keller Field at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton, which has served as home field for the local squad since 2014. “But I’m ready to go.”

Her announcement preceded news from the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League that the Riverhead Tomcats will no longer field a team.

Instead, the ballclub will merge with the North Fork Ospreys, whose home diamond is at Cochran Park in Peconic. Other teams in the restructured six-team circuit include the Sag Harbor Whalers, Shelter Island Bucks, South Shore Clippers, Southampton Breakers and Westhampton Aviators.

HCBL president Sandi Kruel said that the decision to shutter the Tomcats was a difficult one — and stressed how much Ms. Moore-White will be missed. 

“She’s the epitome of a Tomcat,” Ms. Kruel said. “Some years we all just closed our eyes and said a prayer that the season would go [on] … And she always managed to get it up and running for us.”

Organizing a team for the summer league, which was established in 2008, is no small feat. Players are recruited from top-level college programs, and many are housed by East End families who volunteer to share their homes.

Ms. Moore-White got to work each year long before the first pitch was thrown to secure housing for roughly 20 out-of-town players.

“That was our biggest challenge. We’d try to get host families and ask them to do this amazing thing, opening their hearts and homes and generously giving [the players] a place to stay for eight weeks so they could chase their baseball dreams,” she said. “It costs money — and these guys can eat. You’re talking about 18-, 19-, 20-year-old ballplayers.”

Then there’s the pileup of grass-stained uniforms.

In addition to pitching in on household chores and exploring the local area, the players were also encouraged by league organizers to participate in community service, including hosting clinics for local youth.


Ms. Moore-White, 63, has always loved sports. Growing up, her father served in the U.S. Air Force, taking the family of six all over the world, from the Pacific Northwest to West Germany. “Growing up in the military, sports were a big part of my life … It was Americana,” she said, reflecting on time spent listening to ballgames on the radio as a way to connect with America’s national pastime.

When the family returned to Riverhead in 1973, Ms. Moore-White, then an eighth-grader, immersed herself in sports year-round as a way to ground herself in stability and community. 

As she began raising her sons, Kyle and Bryan, she jumped at the chance to coach them through years of PAL soccer and Little League baseball. Even after they’d grown and pursued other interests, Ms. Moore-White continued coaching and volunteering.

In 2009, she heard about the Tomcats and volunteered to host two players.

“They called me ‘P Mama,’ ” she said, recalling how her back deck would be “full of Tomcats” on summer evenings or between games. “I became a part of the team.”

She eventually began co-managing the club with the late Bob Furlong — “Mr. Tomcat” — who died from leukemia in 2017 and is remembered for his deep love of the game, quick wit and leadership. “He was an amazing man,” she said.

The Milwaukee Brewers’ Corbin Burnes, shown pitching for the Riverhead Tomcats in 2014, was announced as the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2021. (Courtesy photo)

That summer, Ms. Moore-White dedicated their season to Mr. Furlong and established an annual award in his honor to the player who exemplifies integrity, teamwork and leadership on and off the field.

“Patti truly loved the boys of summer,” Ms. Kruel said. “She made their experience the best that it could be and really took care of her players.”

At least two dozen former Tomcats have been drafted by Major League teams, and Ms. Moore-White beams with pride recalling their summers in Riverhead.

She recognized at least three faces playing in the inaugural “Field of Dreams” game between the White Sox and Yankees in 2021. A few months later, former Tomcats pitcher Corbin Burnes won the Cy Young Award.

That milestone complicated things when Ms. Moore-White, a die-hard Mets fan, tuned into a June matchup last season that pitted the Mets’ Max Scherzer against Burnes and the Milwaukee Brewers. “I didn’t know who to root for!” she said.

For the last several seasons, Eric Haas of Wading River has co-managed the Tomcats alongside Ms. Moore-White. “As soon as I met her, I could see her enthusiasm and passion,” he said. He hopes to stay involved with the league despite the Tomcats folding. “It’s going to be a big loss for the town,” Mr. Haas said. “And it’s a shame because it’s a great program.”

To this day, Ms. Moore-White stays in touch with the first players she hosted, Justin Sylvester and Tyler Loehr, still cheering them on through life’s milestones. “One of my favorite things is to follow their careers, whether it’s baseball or not,” she said. “It’s so much more than baseball. It’s about respect, pursuing your dreams and hard work. It’s all about the people I’ve met along the way.” 

As this inning of her life draws to a close, she’s looking forward to retiring from her job as a property title searcher and hopes to seek out a warmer locale. Before she makes a move, she’s exploring opportunities to work with minor league teams in the Carolinas or even pursue a dream job with her favorite major league team in Port St. Lucie.

The details are still a little uncertain, but one thing’s for sure: When she steps onto that diamond — ballpark TBD — she’ll feel right at home again.