Canberra Cavalry pitcher Chris Motta. Photo: Colleen Petch
Finally on Thursday, Chris Motta got the phone call he had been waiting for.
The Canberra Cavalry recruit was born and bred in the Bronx, New York, and his mum works in the city centre of Manhattan. It meant Motta had an anxious wait as he desperately tried contacting family and friends in the wake of superstorm Sandy devastating the US east coast.
Motta is set to make his Cavalry debut as a starting pitcher in the second game of a double-header against the Sydney Blue Sox. In the first game on Friday night, the Cavalry lost 3-2.
Playing for a new club in a foreign country was always going to be somewhat nerve-racking, but it would have been so much worse if he had not heard from his mum.
Michele Motta works as a building manager in Manhattan and has been staying over at her workplace, trying to get it operational again after Sandy's wrath.
Her hours of overtime will help pay for a trip to Australia to watch her son play in the new year.
Motta is especially close with his mum, who raised him on her own since he was six months old, when his father was killed in a car accident. When his mum's name came up on his phone at 2pm on Thursday, he was a very happy young man.
''Finally today, she gave me a call … she's good and she's excited about me for Saturday,'' Motta said. ''She said, 'What's the good news?' I'm pitching on Saturday. 'All right, I'll try to watch if I can, but I'm working down here, but everything's good'.
''I was a little nervous but I have faith.''
For most of his career, Motta has been a catcher.
The Yankees fan played at Concordia College, New York, as a catcher but he volunteered to pitch in a game and was spotted by a scout, who suggested he switch from behind the plate to the mound permanently.
It is the same path Cavalry teammate Kyle Perkins is on as they look to get signed by a Major League club.
For the past five months, 22-year-old Motta had been training in Florida, where he was spotted by former Cavalry coach Steve Schrenk.
During his time at the camp, he has added some extra heat to his fast ball and now throws it in the 146-150km/h range.
Schrenk did not return to Canberra this season, but he has played a big part in recruiting for the ABL club. Motta was one of Schrenk's recommendations.
''Steve Schrenk, he saw me play down there [in Florida] and he said, 'Listen, you need to go to the Canberra Cavalry, I think you should develop a little more and if you develop and you get exposed, something bigger will come your way','' Motta said. ''No guarantees, but I'm on my way.''
It has not taken Motta long to learn about Canberra's rivalry with Sydney - in all sports.
He is sure to be a hit with the Fort faithful with comments like this: ''From what I'm hearing, Sydney is the enemy, so I'm going to be ready to take it to them.''