Another milestone for Cal Ripken Jr. - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Another milestone for Cal Ripken Jr.

Cal Ripken and Bill Ripken
Photo credit: Rich Dubroff

BALTIMORE–Twenty years after he concluded his Hall of Fame career with the Orioles, Cal Ripken Jr. is still setting records. On Wednesday, Ripken and his brother Bill participated in a ribbon cutting for the 100th sports facility developed by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

The newest youth development park, BGE Field at Reedbird Park, located in Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood near Harbor Hospital, is a $3 million complex that includes a football and soccer field that can also be used for baseball, softball and lacrosse.

The Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center, which will have three pools and multiple fitness rooms, is still under construction next to the field and will open next year.

The Ripkens were joined by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, corporate executives from Baltimore Gas & Electric, Horseshoe Casino and Under Armour.

“Everything is measured and analyzed, especially in our game, baseball, sometimes too much,” Ripken said. “But certain numbers are worth celebrating. The 100th field. We didn’t set out to build fields at the very beginning of the foundation when we got involved in it because we saw a need that kids have safe places outside to attend our programs, so we started building fields.”

The first field was built on the site of Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street in 2009, and the new facility is meant to help at-risk youth. The Ripkens didn’t play in facilities as well equipped when they were growing up and traveling with their father, longtime Orioles minor league manager Cal Sr., who became a respected Orioles coach and later was the first to manage two sons in the majors.

“It’s like Christmas when you get a present,” Ripken said. “We played in all kinds of fields, minor league stadiums where we rolled up paper cups, which I thought was good for our creativity, but we longed to play on a field like this. When you feel like a big leaguer, you put more time in, put more practice in, and it’s a safe place. That’s the most important thing, to have kids play in a safe place. We also have a for-profit business where we try to make kids feel like big leaguers and enjoy the result. You’re automatically a big leaguer, I think, when you step on this field.”

In his remarks to corporate donors and community leaders, Ripken said he wished his parents, Cal Sr., who died in 1999 at age 63, and his mother, Vi, who passed away in February at age 82, could have seen the results of the family’s work. There are Ripken facilities in 26 states and the District of Columbia.

“We lost dad way too early, and we tried to capture the legacy of dad, and dad’s legacy really was in helping kids,” Ripken said. “He used baseball to help kids. We simply started a foundation to help kids through baseball.

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“It’s really emotional for me because we lost dad and mom was a really big factor in founding and contributing to the Cal Ripken Sr. community. In many ways, they kept us humble … They would be super, super proud to be here today to celebrate this big milestone.”

The new field is about three miles from Oriole Park. Ripken has no formal role with the Orioles.

“We made choices after we retired,” Ripken said. “My kids were 8 and 12 at the time, and I wanted to actually be available to them. I’ve used the good name that dad gave us to try to do good things with it. We’ve both tried to watch ourselves over the years. We’re perfectly comfortable moving in that direction, and I’ve gotten really comfortable, period. Our foundation has grown. It has an excellent board. It feels like it’s right. It feels like we’re having success, and we’re going to keep pushing the model.”

NOTES: The Orioles agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Rico Garcia on a minor league contract, pending a physical. Garcia was 1-2 with a 7.31 ERA in 14 games with Colorado and San Francisco in 2019 and 2020. Garcia had Tommy John surgery in March and missed the 2021 season. News of the agreement was first reported by Orioles broadcaster Melanie Newman and confirmed by an industry source. … Left-handed pitcher Nick Vespi will play in the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game on Saturday. Vespi is 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA in eight games for Mesa. … First baseman Ryan Mountcastle and centerfielder Cedric Mullins were nominated for the All-MLB Team.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    November 11, 2021 at 7:57 am

    What a class act, wish he had a passion to be involved with the O’s, but I totally understand the the familial connection & him being comfortable, he doesn’t need the O’s, but they definitely need him…go O’s…

  2. Orial

    November 11, 2021 at 8:15 am

    Nice,heartwarming story on Cal. Until the O’s rise to the top,Cal and that 1983 team will remain the one place for O’s fans to hang their hats. Mountcastle can’t be a ROY finalist yet he’s an All MLB team nominee? All formalities.

  3. cedar

    November 11, 2021 at 11:35 am

    What a great legacy Cal and Bill have built for their parents and the Ripken family. 100 fields in 26 states and DC is quite an achievement.

  4. dlgruber1

    November 11, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    As great as Cal’’s Hall of Fame career was, what he and Billy, along with all the people helping them in the foundation, are doing makes his playing career pale in comparison. He is provably literally saving lives with these efforts. God bless Cal and Billy.

  5. WorldlyView

    November 11, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    I found this posting to be an emotional roller coaster. First it rekindled my love of the Ripkens and allowed me to reminisce about the O’s glory years. Then came reference to the (contingent) signing of a pitcher with even worse stats than usual: a really bad MLB pitching record embellished by recent TJ surgery. Is this another major milestone in the great rebuild or evidence of a depressing willingness to sign just about anybody who works cheap? If the farm system is as good as advertised, why do we need this long-term rehabilitation gamble (assuming there is something to rehabilitate)?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 11, 2021 at 4:40 pm

      Steve, the Orioles will sign a huge number of players to MINOR league deals. Many of them will have records like that. It costs them little. Every team does this. There are 600 minor league free agents. Of this number they’ll sign perhaps 20. They need depth because of injuries. They need players for Norfolk and Bowie as well as the Orioles.

      • WorldlyView

        November 11, 2021 at 6:05 pm

        Call me jaded, but it there are 600 minor league FA’s available, why do the O’s need to sign this sore-armed bum? If they need depth, maybe they should sign players who will be physically able to play next March; some evidence of decent MLB performance would be an added plus.

    • Icterus fan

      November 11, 2021 at 7:12 pm

      This is a great question, but isn’t it just hire and fire?
      Have more potential employees on deck than you think you’ll need, and sort things out based on attrition and competency.
      The competent get a promotion, and further consideration, and the underachievers fail out.
      That’s life, right? Dog eat dog.

  6. Buzz1979

    November 11, 2021 at 10:49 pm

    There is only one reason Ryan Ripken ever played pro ball, now watch this get deleted too! I know, the truth hurts!

    • CalsPals

      November 12, 2021 at 6:58 am

      2,140 time now this has been said…sweet Jesus…go O’s…

  7. Bmore

    November 13, 2021 at 5:45 am

    I love how you guys give us a great story and then at the end of this great story you squeeze in the garbage that the Orioles continue to bring into the organization somebody else’s garbage when are we going to start bringing in real players

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 13, 2021 at 11:09 am

      I’m glad to know I’m making you happy.

  8. Bmore

    November 13, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    The Orioles are just poorly ran every season how comes Tampa Bay can put a competitive team on the field every year with a low payroll but the Orioles continue to finish in the basement almost every season

    • CalsPals

      November 14, 2021 at 8:09 am

      $1,000,000 dollar question….go O’s…

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