By Joyce Erekson
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the city’s youth sports organizations and when one decides it’s time to move on, the hole can be deep and tough to fill.
Greater Lynn Babe Ruth jack of all jobs Dave Raymond is calling it a day after more than a decade with the program and nearly two decades of volunteering over all if you count his years with Pine Hill Little League when his three children, D.J., Adriana and Perry, were young.
“It’s time to move on with my life,” Raymond said. “It’s time to wind down, take some vacations and relax. It’s going to be sad. I’m going to miss it, but I won’t be far away.”
Raymond has worn a number of different hats over the years including that of field director and vice president of softball operations. In recent years,he has been in charge of scheduling at Grace Rogato Field, which means juggling the needs of the Classical, St. Mary’s and English High softball teams, as well as the Fisher College women’s softball team,in the spring, the Middlesex League in the summer and the middle school softball teams in the fall.
Like quite a few people on the league’s board of directors, Raymond hasn’t had a child involved in the program for years. His daughter, Adriana,played for the Classical High softball team. She graduated in 2012 (one of Raymond’s fondest memories is seeing her hit a three-run home run off Malden pitcher Kiara Amos, who went on play for Providence College). So why spend nights, weekends and even vacations working on the fields and tending to the myriad of other things, like cleaning the bathrooms and buying food for the concession stand,that need to be done? Raymond,who works as the state housing manager for the Lynn Housing Authority,cited a couple of reasons,one being the friendships he has made over the years with the Babe Ruth gang and the other being the pride he takes in the facility.
“It’s nice hearing people coming here from out of town saying how great the place looks,” Raymond said. “When these people come, they think we’re getting paid to do it.” Raymond said he also does it because he loves the kids.
“I’ve always loved the kids, I loved coaching,” Raymond said, admitting that even the long hours he spent mowing the grass weren’t all that bad.
“To me it was relaxation. To get on the lawnmower, put on the headphones and go out there and cut the grass was relaxing,” he said.
Although he stopped short of saying he’ll miss working on the fields,the people are a different story.
“We have such a good group of people,” Raymond said, citing president Jim Beliveau, Bob Cuozzo, Jeff Earp, Jim and Annette Hennessey and all the others who have been there over the years.
Beliveau said he knows he’ll still be calling Raymond for advice on various things.
“He’s done a great job,” Beliveau said.”I don’t know what I would do without Dave, and Leon (Elwell), and Jeff Earp. These are people who put in an awful lot of hours. It’s not just me. I wouldn’t be able to run the league without them.”
Beliveau said from March or April until November (after Fall Ball ends) this group is together.
Many of them also work together at Manning Field.
“He (Raymond) is one of my best friends,” Beliveau said. “He’ll be desperately missed. He’s a good guy who works his tail off.”
Both Raymond and Beliveau are hopeful that as the group of volunteers who have been around for many years leaves, new people will come in and keep things going. Beliveau said there are some good people at the Little League level who he hopes will get involved.
Raymond will leave a program that just wrapped up a year for the ages. The 15-year-old all stars made it to the Babe Ruth World Series.