Cal Ripken, Jr. visits Naples to open a baseball field
Cal Ripken, Jr. joins the Baker family to open a brand new sports complex in East Naples. Video by fox4now.comvideo
NAPLES, Fla.- Cal Ripken, Jr. says giving kids a safe place to play is just as rewarding as winning the World Series!
The MLB Hall of Famer visited Naples on Thursday for the opening of Baker Field.
Ripken is no doubt a legend. He broke Major League records and set new standards for ball players.
"The dream was fulfilled early, but it didn't stop the need to continue to learn, continue to do better," said Ripken.
On Thursday, the Baltimore Orioles star coached kids from Collier County's Boys and Girls Club on a brand-new field.
"I love it, it's like the one in Maryland. I'm glad I have a field to call home," said one 13-year-old.
Ripken is keeping his dad's memory alive. He co-founded the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation nearly 10 years ago. They unveiled the new sports complex for at risk youth.
" The whole foundation started because my dad's legacy was helping kids and use baseball as a means to get them interested," said Ripken.
The complex is named Baker Field after Jay Baker, the former President of Kohl's. Jay and his wife Patty donated money in hopes the field would open doors.
"Patty and I believe in children and giving them opportunities. We've been fortunate in life and always feels great to give back," said Jay Baker.
Ripken says baseball is just one way kids can build confidence and learn about their strengths.
"As we get old, we start to realize the importance and there is nothing better you can do than influence a kid in a positive way," said Ripken.
Ripken hopes these kids persevere, not just on the field, but off and even during the difficult times when you think you might strike out!
A grant from the Naples Children and Education Foundation(the founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival) helps fund Baker Field programs.
There are other sports complexes operating in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas and now Florida.