By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun
5:47 PM EDT, April 19, 2013
Saint Agnes Hospital and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation said Friday that they have raised $1.4 million to renovate the baseball field of the former Cardinal Gibbons School, preserving a site where Babe Ruth once played.
The hospital, meanwhile, is firming up plans to add homes and offices around the field, on the campus of the Catholic school that closed in 2010.
Saint Agnes plans to break ground on the baseball field within the next year, launching what officials have envisioned as Gibbons Commons, a mixed-use development on Caton Avenue, across the street from the hospital. The fundraising goal for the field is $1.5 million.
Among the donors was Ollie's Bargain Outlet, the local discount store chain, which gave $200,000. The field is planned to be named something like Babe Ruth Field at Ollie's Park, said Steve Salem, president of the Ripken Foundation.
Later elements planned for the development include offices in a new building near the field, reminiscent of the B&O Warehouse building that flanks Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and apartments in existing Cardinal Gibbons buildings. The hospital's plans, which are awaiting zoning approval from city officials, salvage most of the buildings on the former school campus, said William Greskovich, vice president of operations and capital projects at Saint Agnes.
The site originally was the home of Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys from 1866 to 1950. Baseball legend Ruth attended for 12 years, starting in 1902.
Cardinal Gibbons opened in 1966 but closed amid a schools consolidation within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The decision drew outcry from alumni, but a group representing school graduates took part in the planning of the Gibbons Commons development, Greskovich said.
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