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Cal Ripken Half Done With Plan For Youth Ballparks

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Mike Schuh 370x278 Mike Schuh
Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — We’re all familiar with what Cal Ripken did on the field during his time here, but now we’re learning about what he’s doing off the field.

Mike Schuh reports he’s halfway through his nationwide plan to spend $50 million on special youth ballparks.

What Cal did on the professional field earned him the right to dream big so kids could play.

“We realized through our programs and through helping kids that they needed a safe place to play,” he said.

That place is a low maintenance, multi-purpose synthetic field.

“These parks are transformational. They’re beautiful; they cost a lot of money. They come into an area and the community just grabs a hold of them and says, ‘This is going to be the safe area to give kids a chance,’” he said.

At a million dollars each, Ripken is putting 50 of these across America. Twenty-six fields have opened so far. Now cities are asking Ripken to build more. But it takes a lot of people in suits to find the money to build the dream.

The Ripken Sr. Foundation finds local donors, builds the field and gives it to a community. But to build the rest, $30 million is needed.

“This capital campaign is very important because it gives us the ability to react quicker and more aggressively in these places,” he said.

The fields are being built in neighborhoods that need help.

“And it is a beautiful thing to see the transformational nature in the neighborhood. All the sudden, you look at this beautiful place, then all the sudden they look at the others areas around that place and then improvements start to take place,” Ripken said.

From an “Iron Man” career to a lasting legacy, Ripken continues to deliver.

Fields are built or planned in 21 states. Baltimore has the greatest number of these fields–at seven.

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