Nashua’s Lajoie among pre-game honorees at Fenway

BOSTON – Fred Lajoie stood on the warning track behind the batting cage on the field at Fenway Park, watching the Red Sox take batting practice Friday afternoon.

“Oh, this is great,” said Lajoie. “I’m having so much fun.”

Lajoie was invited to Fenway by the Red Sox to honor his nearly 45 years of volunteer service to local and state baseball leagues. The honor was part of the Red Sox pregame ceremony recognizing youth baseball programs.

Lajoie began working with local leagues in the 1960s. His first project was rehabbing a field. He called in favors and friends and got the field turned into a gem for next to nothing.

“My mother said to me ‘What are you doing that for? You’re killing yourself and nobody gives a damn,’” Lajoie said.

“I said I’m not doing it because anybody gives a damn. I’m doing it because I want to do it for the kids and give them a better place to play.”

It was that kind of dedication and determination that led to his involvement over parts of the last six decades. He began as the manager of the Nashua West Roofers in 1968 and went on to be league president for 10 years and for 30 years he was one of New Hampshire’s state commissioners for the Babe Ruth Baseball. In 1998, he has named the national Babe Ruth League volunteer of the year.

But Lajoie is stepping down. His retirement is not entirely voluntary, though, as ailments have slowed him down.

In April, Nashua West’s Cal Ripken League field on Ledge St. was renamed and dedicated Fred Lajoie Field.

“This is crazy,” Lajoie said Friday. “For 40 years I do this and no one even says thank you. I say I’m all done and now I get all these accolades.”

Lajoie was at the Red Sox game with his wife Cecile, daughter Theresa Fenton, and her husband Jim.

“I really am honored to be here,” he said. “This is great.”

Lajoie joked that he would probably spend just as much time next year at the field that bears his name. But now he’ll just be sitting back and watching.