Fresno High christened Ken Papi Field on Saturday to honor the longtime baseball coach who helped paved the way for players after high school.
Papi became the Warriors’ baseball coach in 1975 and led Fresno to six league championships and a Central Section title in 1987. His teams had runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2012 – his last year as head coach. although he remains son Jason’s assistant.
“I did it for the kids,” Ken Papi said. “I’m going to keep doing as much as I can, sitting in the dugout and let him coach and just to support him. That’s all. I’ve had tremendous memories out here, in the stands, coaches and players. Parents showed up. It’s just great to see this.”
His career record – all at FHS – is 608-416-2, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Fresno Bee
Former player Sean Halton said, “Ken was super instrumental in my my development as a young man as a player. I couldn’t really imagine anybody else having the name at that field. I think when anybody thinks of Fresno High baseball, it’s Ken Papi and Ken Papi’s family. It’s long overdue, and Ken has done so much.”
Jason Papi was overjoyed.
“My dad put his life into Fresno High and Fresno High baseball,” said Jason, whose team faced Lindsay in a season-opener. “It doesn’t happen very often where a man spends all his 50 years of his career at the same school as an educator, athletic director and a baseball coach. It was a long time coming and I’m so proud of him. He was more than baseball. He wanted to make kids better.”
Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, agalaviz_TheBee