New York Times Portraits of Grief

William J. Mahoney II

William J. Mahoney II was an Adonis who did not sculpture his sleek physique at the gym. He was a player, and baseball was his game.

Mr. Mahoney, 37, coached his children's baseball teams and played center field in two adult leagues. A firefighter at Rescue Company 4 in Elmhurst, Queens, he was sentimental in his approach to the game. He had scribbled his wife's name inside his baseball glove. He also insisted that his family perform a good luck ritual before every game.

"We always had to either kiss his bat or touch his bat before he'd get up and touch the ball," his wife, Donna, said. "If we couldn't show up for the game, he made sure that we touched his bat before he left."

His ultimate baseball fantasy was to crisscross the country and visit famous baseball fields.

Around home in Bohemia, N.Y., he was the originator of projects that included making a vanity table for his wife and adding several rooms to the house. He also worked as a cabinetmaker and ran a tent-rental business on weekends.

"He wasn't just going to be sitting home watching a sitcom on a Friday night," said Ray Smith, a longtime friend and fellow firefighter. "He was always doing something. He was always looking to learn more."