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Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to announce campaign to build youth sports parks

Baltimore OriolesCal RipkenCal Ripken, Jr.Jim JohnsonBuck Showalter

The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation is set to launch the public portion of a $30 million fundraising campaign to help build youth sports parks in underserved communities around the country.

The foundation has already built 25 "Youth Development Parks," and officials hope to bring that number to 50 within five years.

"I look at it as doing wonderful things in dad's name and helping kids," said Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who will announce the capital campaign at a Tuesday news conference. "To me, these parks are truly transformational to the areas."

In three years, the initiative has already criss-crossed the country, from Baltimore to Houston to Chicago.

The Ripken foundation designs and builds the parks at a reduced cost, then donates them to partner agencies in their respective home cities. The foundation also provides clinics and character education at the parks going forward. The parks cost about $1 million each to build.

The foundation has already raised more than $18 million of its $30-million goal and hopes to complete the capital campaign by June.

Ripken said he'd urge anyone who wonders about the value of the program to visit completed fields in Park Heights or Patterson Park and watch kids enjoying themselves in the midst of city neighborhoods.

"Come see it for yourself," Ripken said. "The sell is really seeing it in action."

Ripken also took a moment to discuss his former team, urging fans to keep the faith with Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter despite a sluggish offseason.

Ripken said closer Jim Johnson, who was traded to the Oakland Athletics earlier this month, will be "hard to replace."

"But my advice is to be patient and trust the process," he said of the Orioles. "It's been good the last few years."

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Baltimore OriolesCal RipkenCal Ripken, Jr.Jim JohnsonBuck Showalter
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