Af­ter 13 sea­sons, Cal Rip­ken World Series leav­ing Aberdeen

Rip­ken Base­ball doesn’t give rea­sons for end­ing sup­port

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Randy McRoberts

Af­ter 13 years, the Cal Rip­ken Ma­jor/70 World Series, a Babe Ruth League in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment for play­ers ages 11 and 12, is leav­ing Aberdeen and the base­ball com­plex that in­cludes a sta­dium and youth base­ball com­plex bear­ing the Rip­ken name.

Rip­ken Base­ball, which hosted the tour­na­ment lo­cally for 10 days each sum­mer, and the Babe Ruth or­ga­ni­za­tion con­firmed the im­pend­ing move Wed­nes­day.

Rip­ken Base­ball “made the de­ci­sion they didn’t want to host it any­more,” Babe Ruth vice pres­i­dent-com­mis­sioner Robert Fa­herty Jr. said. “Wewere ad­vised that Rip­ken In­cor­po­rated was no longer go­ing to host the event.”

It costs about $100,000 to host the World Series, ac­cord­ing to Fa­herty.

“Be­gin­ning in the sum­mer of 2017, Rip­ken Base­ball will not host the Babe Ruth League/Cal Rip­ken Di­vi­sion World Series at our fa­cil­ity in Aberdeen,” John Bram­lette, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of am­a­teur base­ball for the Rip­ken or­ga­ni­za­tion, said in a state­ment. “The sup­port of the com­mu­nity has been noth­ing short of amaz­ing since we be­gan host­ing this event 13 years ago.

“In bring­ing the World Series here, the hope was to stage a ter­rific event in this com­mu­nity. Due to the hos­pi­tal­ity and

ef­forts of so many peo­ple in Aberdeen and Har­ford County, the World Series has grown into an in­ter­na­tional event that has cre­ated spe­cial mem­o­ries for play­ers, coaches, com­mu­nity mem­bers and vol­un­teers alike. It has been a great run that none of us will ever for­get.”

The tour­na­ment moved to Aberdeen in 2003, a few years af­ter Ori­oles Hall of Famer Cal Rip­ken Jr. be­came af­fil­i­ated with the Babe Ruth League and a new di­vi­sion of the youth base­ball or­ga­ni­za­tion was cre­ated un­der his name.

Rip­ken com­mented in a let­ter to The Aegis and The Record LeiIani Rice about the de­ci­sion to no longer host the series:

“For the last 13 years we have en­joyed host­ing the an­nual Cal Rip­ken World Series in our home­town of Aberdeen,” he said. “Al­though we had to make the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to no longer host the event for a num­ber of rea­sons, I look back on those years with great fond­ness.

“I want to thank ev­ery­one who helped make the World Series such a fan­tas­tic event. The vol­un­teers and host fam­i­lies com­mit­ted them­selves to this event and the kids from around the world each and ev­ery year and we sim­ply could not have done it with­out you.”

The Babe Ruth or­ga­ni­za­tion is seek­ing bids to host the 2016 12-U “Ma­jor 70” series, which will still carry the Rip­ken name, ac­cord­ing to Fa­herty. Babe Ruth’s Rip­ken di­vi­sion has pro­grams and tour­na­ments for sev­eral age groups play­ing on 60-foot and 70-foot di­a­monds.

“To host a Babe Ruth World series is $45,000,” Fa­herty said. “And on top of that the bud­get will be closer to $100,000. ... All of the in­come pro­duced af­ter that guar­an­tee stays in the com­mu­nity.

“Babe Ruth League couldn’t be hap­pier and more proud of our as­so­ci­a­tion in what we were able to do in our time in Aberdeen, but it’s an op­por­tu­nity for us to go and ex­pand the brand of 70-foot base­ball around the coun­try.”

Rip­ken Base­ball, mean­while, is not leav­ing Aberdeen and will con­tinue to pro­vide a va­ri­ety of youth base­ball pro­grams at The Rip­ken Ex­pe­ri­ence, Bram­lette said.

“Rip­ken Base­ball re­mains ded­i­cated to Aberdeen and Har­ford County,” he said. “Our sole fo­cus in the am­a­teur base­ball space will be on de­liv­er­ing first-class ex­pe­ri­ences to the teams, fam­i­lies and play­ers who join us from around the coun­try at The Rip­ken Ex­pe­ri­ence Aberdeen pow­ered by Un­der Ar­mour.

“We are grate­ful be­yond words to our sup­port­ers, vol­un­teers and in­cred­i­bly gen­er­ous host fam­i­lies who have opened their doors each sum­mer to young ballplay­ers from around the world. We are proud to have hosted the Cal Rip­ken World Series and look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing our strong re­la­tion­ship with the Babe Ruth League.”

The first year in Aberdeen, World Series games were played at Rip­ken Sta­dium, home of the Aberdeen IronBirds Short A mi­nor league team, where the reg­u­lar 90-foot di­a­mond was con­verted to a 60-foot sur­face with a por­ta­ble snow fence placed across the out­field.

A cou­ple of years later, the series was moved to Cal Sr.’s Yard and sur­round­ing ma­jor league replica fields con­sti­tut­ing The Rip­ken Ex­pe­ri­ence com­plex next to the mi­nor league sta­dium. The series was changed from the 60-foot to 70-foot base paths with most games be­ing played at Cal Sr.’s Yard, a replica of Cam­den Yards.

The 2016 tour­na­ment fea­tured 10 teams from the United States and in­ter­na­tional

“I want to thank ev­ery­one who helped make the World Series such a fan­tas­tic event.” Cal Rip­ken Jr., in a let­ter

teams from Ja­pan, Mex­ico, Canada, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, Aus­tralia and South Korea. Ja­pan, the tour­na­ment’s in­ter­na­tional cham­pion, de­feated U.S. champ Ken­newick, Wash., 7-0, to win the world cham­pi­onship Aug. 6.

The Aberdeen series has al­ways fea­tured a Har­ford County host-cham­pi­onship team and a Mary­land state cham­pion. Those teams will now have to qual­ify through re­gional tour­na­ments. For the first time, two Har­ford County teams ap­peared in the 2016 series. Hick­ory-Foun­tain Green was the host, and Bel Air qual­i­fied in the Mary­land tour­na­ment to be state champ.

“This is very sad and dis­ap­point­ing,” said Joe McIl­hen­ney, who coached on Hick­ory teams that had suc­cess in two of the past three World Series. “This is a sad day for Har­ford County Rip­ken base­ball pro­grams.”

Lo­cal host fam­i­lies have been a ma­jor part of the series since it came to Aberdeen.

“It’s not that you want to keep do­ing it, be­cause you’re tired, but you don’t want to stop, be­cause you’re so close to the fam­ily, so close to the team,” LeiIani Rice said.

Rice and her hus­band, Jim, and their fam­ily have hosted series play­ers from Ja­pan for the past nine years.

“We kind of had a feel­ing that was go­ing to hap­pen. Oh, well,” she said.

Aberdeen Mayor Pa­trick McGrady said he had not heard the Rip­ken World Series would be leav­ing.

McGrady threw out the first pitch at this year’s event.

“I think the [Rip­ken] World Series is a lot of fun,” he said.

MATT BUT­TON /BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Mem­bers of Team Ja­pan take a vic­tory lap around the out­field af­ter win­ning the Cal Rip- ken Ma­jor/ 70 World Series last month at Cal Sr.’s Yard in Aberdeen.

MATT BUT­TON /BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Play­ers from Team Ja­pan toss coach Kat­sumi Sekiguchi into the air as they cel­e­brate af­ter a vic­tory in the Cal Rip­ken World Series.

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