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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Roemer

The Letter P: Justin Frometa

Cheering and laughter from the various crowds that formed outside of the rusted green gates melts together, as hundreds of people file into a stadium consisting of faded red brick with a bright sign atop that reads “Orioles Park Camden Yards.” As the mass of people had calmed and gameday festivities were officially underway, an excited young boy walked alongside his father to the ticket sales window.  

However, in a matter of minutes, the excitement from the boy's face faded. What was supposed to be a day of bonding ended abruptly due to a declined credit card, and resulted in a tearful car ride home. 

Fast forward about a decade later, tears begin to stream down the same cheeks; only this time the boy is now a college graduate who is getting ready to work at Fenway Park as an official staff member of the Boston Red Sox. 

“I remember wanting to go to the game so badly that day and my dad was upset that it couldn’t happen,” Portland Sea Dogs Development Coach Justin Frometa said. “Then I had that moment at Fenway Park where I thought, how did I get to where I am being paid to be at a ballpark.” 

Now in his fourth season with the Red Sox organization, the Western Massachusetts native is on a path he never thought he would travel. 

Justin Giving Instruction to athletes Niko Kavadas and Phillip Sikes

From birth until he was about 10 years old, Justin lived in government housing with his family. He is the oldest of three children and was primarily raised by his mother and grandmother. Justin’s mother is from Puerto Rico and his dad is from the Dominican Republic. The two met in New York City and brought  Justin into the world shortly after. 

“My parents had me when they were just twenty years old,” Justin said. “Due to the deck of cards we were dealt, we struggled.” 

Even when Justin and his family were no longer situated in government housing, they still remained in a part of Massachusetts which had a high percentage of residents living below the poverty line. 

According to numbers listed by Data USA, 26.5 percent of the general population in Western Massachusetts lives below the poverty line, which is higher than the national average of 12.6 percent. Additionally, the most common racial ethnic group living in poverty is hispanic. 

Despite growing up in a rough area, Justin attended private school from preschool through high school. Roughly 70 percent of students at the local public high school made it to graduation, and his family put an emphasis on the importance of his education. 

It was there that he learned more than just the basic school subjects, but how far he had come, and how hard he was going to have to work to prove himself.  

“No one really had to tell me that I was living in poorer conditions because I knew my classmates grew up differently than I did,” Justin said. “But my mom always told me I had to hold myself to a higher standard, the room for error was smaller.” 

Justin attended a small private school in Northampton, Massachusetts until sixth grade, but made the decision to switch to The Williston School for junior high and high school. 

Williston is a prestigious boarding school for grades 7-12 located in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Justin received a scholarship and attended as a day student, continuing to live at home. 

“When I opened up my acceptance letter my mom and I both cried,” Justin said. “We knew how big of an opportunity this was for me and it was a no brainer that I had to take it.” 

Since he stepped foot on campus, Justin was excited to attend classes and be involved in Williston’s afternoon programs. 

As a young seventh grader, he decided his first trial would be an attempt to make the varsity basketball team, even if that meant going up against the high school upperclassmen. His tryout result ended with him taking up a spot on the lower squad, but in the long-run, became something noteworthy to remember. 

“Looking back on that experience I think it shows how delusional I was,” Justin said. “However, that is a characteristic that has enabled me to overcome many trials and tribulations.” 

Quickly, Justin realized basketball was not going to work out so he pivoted to baseball in the spring. Though he had been playing baseball from a very young age, it was a similar situation where he knew that he was going to have to show up and compete. 

“The game did not come naturally to me as a seventh grader, I was undersized and uncoordinated," Justin said. “But, I managed to earn a spot on the JV team even though playing time was limited.” 

Once his first year at Williston came to an end, Justin knew he had a strong foundation to build upon. In high school, he was an honors student and continued to play baseball, eventually working his way up to being voted team captain his senior season. 

Nevertheless, his journey to becoming team captain and earning a noteworthy GPA was not straightforward. 

Justin stepped into his freshman year with more confidence surrounding baseball and his academics, setting high goals for himself before the school year started. Sophomore year brought more of a struggle on the baseball field, but junior year everything started to fall more into place. 

As a junior he was motivated by one of his teachers, Kyle Hanford, who knew he had it in him to be great at anything he pursued. 

“Justin always worked his tail off to get better at anything he did,” Hanford said. “He had an enthusiasm and the spark to be great, back then he just really needed to realize it.” 

Williston’s head baseball coach, Matt Sawyer, saw similar qualities and knew right away Justin was different from the rest. 

“One of the first varsity games he was in uniform, I put him in as a pinch runner,” Sawyer said. “And I’ll never forget how excited and nervous he was just to do that one small task, he really focused on it and that made him stand apart from everyone.” 

The desire to get better and go higher than people expected him to, eventually led Justin to Tufts University, a reputable private university in the greater Boston area. 

After graduating from Williston with Cum Laude honors, he entered his freshman year as a political science major and a member of the baseball program. 

“The baseball recruiting process went really well and it seemed like a great fit academically,” Frometa said. “After beating the statistics of graduating high school, I felt like I could take on anything.” 

That November he received a phone call informing him that one of his best friends had tragically passed away. This was the first time Justin had lost someone incredibly close to him and made him think deeper about what he wanted for his future. 

“It became a very low point in my life after having felt like I had everything going for me just a few months prior,” Frometa said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen going forward but I knew I wanted to make a difference.” 

Going into the spring semester, Justin realized he no longer was meant to be part of the game of baseball as an athlete. A month before the baseball program left for their spring trip, Justin informed the coach he no longer wanted to play. 

Instead, he became part of the sport as a coach and helped the younger generation take the next step in their careers. 

“The level of perfectionism I chased as a player became unhealthy,” Frometa said. “And I have never regretted that decision to stop playing and now appreciate the game more.” 

For two years Justin coached high school players, but when one of his mentors, Peter Fatse, received an opportunity to work for a Major League Baseball organization it made him realize that a role in professional baseball is something he may want to pursue. 

During the day he grinded to finish his bachelors degree and interviewed for jobs with banks and consulting firms, but kept pushing to learn more about data science from a friend; who eventually led him to a connection with Tyrone Brooks in Major League Baseball. The networking helped Justin receive an opportunity to attend a conference in Arizona, where he would interview with two major league organizations before the event shut down due to the coronavirus.   

“Everything became uncertain with the pandemic because all the teams froze their hiring processes,” Frometa said. “At that moment it felt like baseball could be over to me.” 

Like many other college students at that moment, Justin went home to finish school online and graduated virtually. 

Around the time he graduated, Justin secured a job with Amazon Logistics as a Shift Manager who would oversee package processing. After roughly nine months on the job, Justin received a text message that had the potential to completely reroute the course he was on. 

“I received a message asking if I was interested in a position that had just opened up with the Red Sox,” Frometa said. “It took me a while to think about it before I responded but knew I needed to at least go for it.” 

Two weeks after the initial text was sent with a few interviews in between, Justin was offered the role of Player Development Associate in Fort Myers, Florida, where the Red Sox organization spring training facility is located. 

The job was only guaranteed for one season, but he did not hesitate to say yes immediately and packed to leave for his new adventure. 

“My family was really excited for me but also a little sad because I had never been that far from home before,” Frometa said. “I remember saying goodbye and being really jittery on the plane, but also had a feeling of extreme thankfulness at the same time.” 

Though his time with the Red Sox was uncertain after the conclusion of the 2021 season, he progressed to a baseball operations assistant role and relocated to Boston until February of 2023. Continuing to advance with the organization, Justin became a development coach for the Portland Sea Dogs, the Red Sox double-A affiliate, for the 2023 season.

Before gearing up to return to Maine in the same role for the 2024 season, Justin was invited to speak at The Williston School’s Cum Laude ceremony. 

It is no surprise to his former teachers and coaches that he was selected as the guest speaker.

“He is all the good parts of The Williston School because of his kindness and curiosity,” Hanford Said. “Justin is an exemplary role model because if he has a goal he is going to reach it.”  

In his speech he shared his story in hopes to inspire everyone to work towards their goals no matter how crazy or out of reach it may seem. 

“Throughout my life, there have been a lot of p’s – from growing up in the projects, to attending prep school, then going on to a prestigious university and then starting a career in professional baseball,” Frometa said. “If I could go back and speak with Justin in the projects I would tell him there are no shortcuts, but you can achieve anything you want to.”

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