League President Steve White presented a plaque to Rosemary Doucette, honoring her late husband.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Joe Doucette remembers when he was 10 years old and his brother was recruiting players for a Saturday afternoon baseball league.
Then 13, Lionel "Duke" Doucette was already doing everything he could to get young ball players on the field.
At age 84, Doucette was still serving on Pittsfield's 13-year-old Babe Ruth League board, a league he formed, when he died last October.
"He always like to be with kids. He enjoyed every minute of it. He was a coach, president of the league, the commissioner of the area," said Joe Doucette, who on Sunday was one of many of the Doucette family members at Deming Park to accept the honor of the league being named after Duke.
The board of directors decided the league should be named after the man who formed it in 1988 and who spent more than 40 years volunteering with local youth sports.
"As a board, it was an easy decision," said League President Steve White of the honor. "It was his league."
When the younger players were getting the bare minimum time on the field in the Babe Ruth League, Doucette formed the 13-year-old league to ensure they got to play. When the league's attendance grew, Doucette was known to do whatever it took to make sure all players could participate, even it meant expanding the league with new teams.
The Lionel "Duke" Doucette 13-year-old League is a development league for ballplayers before entering the Babe Ruth and high school levels.
At times during the league's 26 years, years were taken off because of low signup numbers. But as soon as there was demand, Duke was right there to help bring it back, White said.
"He was on our board of directors until he passed away. He had a passion for Babe Ruth baseball," White said. "It was always about the children and teamwork. He always preached that."
White said Duke was a mentor of his when he first became a coach. And he remembers Duke telling him that one day, he would be president of the league.
"I can't say enough about him," White said.
After Duke returned from being stationed in Trieste, Italy, as an sergeant in the Army, he worked for the former General Electric as a supervisory foreman. In 1958, he married the former Rosemary Principe and raised three children.
During much of that time, he was involved in coaching both baseball through the Babe Ruth League as well as basketball at the Catholic Youth Center.
"He loved what he was doing and he loved the kids," said Rosemary Doucette, who along with Joe Doucette threw out the first pitch of the season to commemorate her late husband. "I spent a lot of time down here at the parks."
Rosemary Doucette accepted a plaque on Sunday in remembrance of the occasion. The honor is "incredible," she said.
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