Peter Vanetti made a difference in lives of young ballplayers

There was an empty spot in the bleachers at San Marcos’ baseball game on Tuesday at Joe Mueller Field.

Peter Vanetti, the father of Royals’ baseball coach Tony Vanetti, wasn’t in his familiar place alongside his wife, watching their son’s team play.

Peter and Frances rarely missed watching and supporting the athletic and artistic endeavors of their family.

“He just wanted to be a part of it,” said Tony.

Peter passed away Saturday after suffering a heart attack. He was 77.

Tony said initially he wasn’t going to attend Tuesday’s game, but his mother told him, “I needed to be here today.”

So there he was, in his Royals uniform, watching his team play while reminiscing about his father.

“He truly was the main guy,” said Tony.

Peter Vanetti was a key figure in the Santa Barbara sports community. In 1968, he helped start Goleta Valley South Little League, which first played its games behind St. Rafael’s School before moving to its present complex on Hollister Ave. near San Marcos High in 1970.

He was the league’s first all-stars manager and won the district and area titles with that team.

In the league, he coached the same team for 14 years, Tony said.

Peter coached and Frances worked in the concession stand. They were quite a team.

He coached Tony and Tony’s youngest son, Cameron, in the GVSLL and older son Kellen in the YMCA league.

Besides his love for baseball, Peter Vanetti enjoyed playing golf and spending time with his family. On the day he passed away, he spent the early morning having breakfast with Cameron and later went to the driving range at Santa Barbara Golf Club.

He volunteered as a course marshal at the municipal course twice a week.

“He’d play on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 a.m. with the other marshals,” said Tony. “He was pretty good. He once shot a 72 at Sandpiper back in the mid-1980s.”

Tony’s involvement in sports and coaching come from his father.

“He had a knack. He was good at what he did,” said Tony, who introduced Peter at a recent Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

Tony fondly remembers the friendly competitions the two of them had when he was a kid.

“We’d play anything one on one: cards, pool, ping-pong. I always felt once I can beat him, I could compete with anybody,” he said.

He recalled the time he skunked his dad in ping-pong, and his dad was a champion player at the YMCA.

“I ran up to my room and wrote it down and I could hear me yelling, ‘Come on, let’s play another one.’ It was good natured competition.

“I had a special relationship with him,” Tony continued. “He’d go into work two hours early so he could coach or watch us play. He never missed a day of my events.”

Peter also had a special relationship with the community. He worked as a meat cutter, starting at a small butcher shop on State Street before taking a job at Jordano’s after graduating from Santa Barbara High in 1952. He later became a buyer and supervisor. The last three years of his career, he worked at Scolari’s on Milpas.

He also was known for his expertise at barbecuing. He and golf buddies Red Lopez and Mark Hawkins cooked at several social functions.

“He was a popular guy, a friend to all,” said Tony.

Peter Vanetti is survived by his wife of 56 years, Frances, daughter and son-in-law, Carlajo and Jim Smith; their children Tyler and Marine, Hayley Smith and her husband Daniel Gonzalez; son and daughter-in-law Anthony and Kathy Vanetti, and their children Cameron and Kellen Vanetti, and Kellen’s fiance, Summer.

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to San Marcos High School c/o the baseball program in memory of Pete Vanetti.

A celebration of Pete’s life will be held at Welch Ryce Haider Funeral Chapel in Goleta at 11 a.m. on Thursday April 14.


  1. Peter Vanetti was a special, special man. He, and Tony, both coached me in Little League at Dos Pueblos. Though I saw him less as years went on, I will always remember the positive influence he had on me as a player and person. He was popular with everyone. A wonderful person. RIP.

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