Charlie Barbeisch in an undated photo with the Atlantic League Championship trophy.

Charlie Barbeisch in an undated photo with the Atlantic League Championship trophy. Credit: Long Island Ducks

Charlie Barbeisch saw the biggest moments in Long Island Ducks history through the lens of his camera.

For more than a decade, the longtime Farmingville resident served as a volunteer photographer for the Central Islip-based minor league baseball team.He was a fixture at the ballpark, armed with a camera, a smile, and his signature yellow suspenders as he snapped photos of players on the field and fans in the stands.

"The ballpark became a home away from home for Charlie," said Michael Pfaff, the Ducks' president and general manager. "He really enjoyed being there and we really enjoyed having him. … It connected him to people and everybody really appreciated it. He came at it with such an honest, generous approach. He was just somebody that enjoyed connecting with other people and used his camera to do so."

Barbeisch, a father of four, died Dec. 24 from complications of COVID-19 at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, his family said. He was 80.

Barbeisch, whose favorite holiday was Christmas, acted as a sort of Santa Claus at the ballpark — and not only because of his long, white beard. He spent hours making sure that fans who walked through the gates got their happy moments memorialized.

"I think that’s why so many people know my dad," said daughter Donna Darling. "If he saw you and your kids there, he wanted to give you a lasting memory. He’d take your picture and be like, ‘Give me your email address and I’ll email you.’ That’s what my dad did. He did this 24/7. He was constantly reaching out to people, sending them pictures."

Ducks players got the same treatment, said former Ducks infielder Ray Navarrete.

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"Not only was he kind enough to take time to take photos, he was even more kind to invest his time and money into printing them and giving the photos to the players, whether it be one photo or ten," Navarrete said. "A lot of my incredible memories that I have playing for that organization, I’ll be able to look at them fondly [because] of the photos he gave me. I have hundreds of photos that Charlie took of myself and my teammates."

Barbeisch saw parallels between his own life and the passion the players had for their craft. Minor league players don't make much money and work hard just to keep alive the dream of reaching the major leagues.

"Something about the players on the team, their passion for their game, is something that he connected with his passion for his work and his family," said nephew Chris Barbeisch, 63, of upstate New York. "It felt like another family for him."

Chris Barbeisch added: "He was very purposeful in life. Even in his photography, he felt that there had to be something other than fun. It was fun connected with something, and I think he felt a great deal of value [through] his photography for the team,"

Born in Queens and raised in Bellmore, Charlie Barbeisch was a mechanic and owned and operated gas stations around Long Island for most of his professional life. He sold his final station — Charlie’s 5th Avenue on Veterans Highway in Bohemia — more than 25 years ago, said his daughter.

In retirement, Charlie Barbeisch rarely stopped having fun. He visited Florida twice a year, often going to Walt Disney World, and was frequently entertaining at his home. Barbeques and pig roasts were summertime staples, said niece Barbara Mueller.

"He just enjoyed having everybody together," Mueller said.

In the winter, he would use his snowblower up and down his block after snowstorms.

"He was the greatest neighbor," Darling said. "He was the guy that plowed everybody’s driveway. If you needed anything, my dad was there."

In addition to his daughter, Charlie Barbeisch is survived by sons Charles Jr. and John; sister Eileen Mueller; three grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and nine nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his wife, Diane; son Michael; and brother Leo. Charlie Barbeisch was cremated, said his daughter.

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