West Bal­ti­more gets a ball­field named in honor of Ed­die Mur­ray

Baltimore Sun - - VAR­SITY - Peter.schmuck@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Sch­muck­S­top Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, “The Schmuck Stops Here,” at bal­ti­more­sun.com/schmuck­blog.

“When you’re sit­ting here and look­ing out at all these peo­ple, this is truly a part­ner­ship and the way it’s re­ally sup­posed to work,” Rip­ken told the crowd. “There’s an en­ergy. There’s a joy. There’s a com­mon thread that we care about the kids. Sports does have a ben­e­fit. Sports can shape you. It can give you all kinds of lessons, and it can keep you safe.”

Mur­ray had to sit through tes­ti­mo­ni­als that poked fun at his re­luc­tance to place him­self in such public sit­u­a­tions, but it was ob­vi­ous how proud he was to have his name at­tached to such an im­por­tant com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive.

“This is, I think, go­ing to be an out­stand­ing place to come,” Mur­ray said. “When I saw the board out there of the replica of what the field should be, you couldn’t help but light up and smile. … That is re­ally, re­ally nice.”

Bal­ti­more Gas and Elec­tric is the ma­jor spon­sor of the project, which is ben­e­fit­ing from one of three large legacy gifts awarded by the com­pany dur­ing its 200th an­niver­sary year.

The part­ner­ship also in­cludes the Ol­lie’s Bar­gain Out­let re­tail chain, Plank In­dus­tries, Bon Se­cours Health System, T. Rowe Price and Lewis Con­struc­tion.

BGE chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Calvin But­ler said Fri­day that it was no co­in­ci­dence the foun­da­tion and spon­sors chose a site so near the un­rest that placed Bal­ti­more in a neg­a­tive na­tional spot­light after the death of Fred­die Gray last year.

“That’s why we did it,” he said. “It was no mis­take that we chose the James Mosher Lit­tle League. It was no mis­take that we chose West Bal­ti­more to come to, be­cause we know peo­ple are watch­ing. And when they watch, we want them to be amazed by what we pro­duce. These kids, we want to let them know that just be­cause peo­ple say you can’t, we’re let­ting you know we’re in-

Video on­line

For a video from the ground­break­ing, go to bal­ti­more­sun.com/sports vest­ing in you be­cause we know you can.”

James Mosher Base­ball, which has been in op­er­a­tion since 1960, will soon fea­ture a syn­thetic turf base­ball di­a­mond, dugouts, a back­stop and a dig­i­tal score­board. Upon com­ple­tion, it will be turned over to the Bal­ti­more City Public School system, but Mur­ray promised that his pres­ence Fri­day will not be a one-time thing.

“This is go­ing to be a nice piece of prop­erty here in the city if ev­ery­body stays to­gether,” he said, “and I’m go­ing to be here. I’m go­ing to come back other than the rib­bon-cut­ting. I’ll be back.”

The in­com­ing mayor was look­ing di­rectly at Mur­ray when she put the pur­pose of the event into per­spec­tive.

“To name this field for such a leg­end in our com­mu­nity and some­one who has just done such great work has made all of us proud,” Pugh said, “and I know you’re proud of this but we’re so proud of you.”

Pugh and Mosher Base­ball pres­i­dent Wil­liam Neal also made sure to rec­og­nize the work of the faith­ful group of coaches and men­tors who have kept the Mosher league thriv­ing for nearly six decades.

Young talked be­fore the cer­e­mony about the im­por­tance of cre­at­ing high-qual­ity fa­cil­i­ties for kids and re­flected on Thurs­day’s rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony for the newly un­veiled Babe Ruth Field at Gib­bons Com­mons.

“This is re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant be­cause our chil­dren need some­thing nice to play on,” Young said. “If you look at the field they opened yesterday, over at Se­ton Park — and I en­vi­sion they’re go­ing to do the same thing Ed­die Mur­ray, sec­ond from left, Brooks Robinson, third from right, and Cal Rip­ken Jr., right, were among the par­tic­i­pants in the ground­break­ing for Ed­die Mur­ray Field. here — it’s a win-win for the kids. …This is one of the old­est leagues around. These kids come out here ev­ery day dur­ing the base­ball sea­son and that’s go­ing to at­tract more kids. So you’re go­ing to have kids from all over want­ing to join and they’re go­ing to have to ex­pand the league.”

Rip­ken took some time after the cer­e­mony to re­flect on a 15-year jour­ney that has taken him and the Cal Rip­ken Sr. Foun­da­tion all over the coun­try to ben­e­fit at-risk kids by help­ing im­prove youth ath­letic fa­cil­i­ties and cre­ate men­tor­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties through sport.

He said his father could never have imag­ined what the foun­da­tion and its part­ners have been able to ac­com­plish.

“No, be­cause I couldn’t en­vi­sion it,” Rip­ken said. “I know that when we lost Dad, we re­ally wanted to put a mean­ing for us on his life and it was about the de­vel­op­ment of kids. And it was ob­vi­ously kids in the mi­nor leagues. He helped them and in many ways was a father to many of those kids who went away [from home] to play base­ball. But the real se­cret was to watch him use clin­ics in the com­mu­ni­ties and de­liver a mes­sage to those kids and use base­ball to do it, and I never re­ally fully grasped that be­cause he was away from us so much.

“Look­ing back, he was re­ally great at us­ing base­ball to get kids in­ter­ested. But re­ally, he wasn’t re­ally try­ing to find the next gen­er­a­tion of base­ball play­ers. He was just try­ing to help the kids and use base­ball to do that.”

Rip­ken com­pared Mur­ray to Cal Sr., point­ing out that nei­ther was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in get­ting any recog­ni­tion for their ef­forts ei­ther on or off the base­ball field.

“Like I tried to com­mu­ni­cate about Ed, Dad never did things to get at­ten­tion,” Rip­ken said. “He just did things be­cause he knew they were right. … Dad would have been just like Ed. Dad would have just said, ‘I’ll come out after you fin­ish with all this hoopla and I’ll come out and do the real work,’ which is with the kids. And I sus­pect Ed­die will be a lit­tle like that, too.”

AL­GE­RINA PERNA/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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