Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray attend a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil a youth baseball field in west Baltimore named after Murray. The field will be the home field for James Mosher Baseball the oldest continuously operating African American youth baseball league in the country. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)

When Orioles legends and Baseball Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray finally connected onstage on the baseball field built by the former's charity and named for the latter, each man's experience in such situations was evident.

What began as a handshake between the self-proclaimed brothers turned into a bear hug, with Ripken lifting the reserved Murray off his feet.

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Ripken has spent his post-playing days at events like Wednesday's, unveiling baseball fields in his father's honor. Murray, always quiet, took a little time to absorb the surroundings of a field named for him.

But as Wednesday afternoon's dedication of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation project of Eddie Murray Field at BGE Park behind James Mosher Elementary in West Baltimore wore on, the pair pulled on their decades of shared experience to strike a fitting celebratory tone for such an event.

"We couldn't be more proud to have this field in Eddie's name, and in the spirit of that relationship that many of us have with kids, and in the spirit of what Dad is all about," Ripken said.

"Hopefully, we can get our kids back involved, and this is just a little step here. I am so proud of this stadium here," Murray said.

A year ago this week, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and BGE broke ground on the field that hosts James Mosher Baseball, which was founded in 1960 and is the longest continuously operated baseball program for African-American youths in the United States.

The day — which also featured Hall of Famer and Orioles legend Brooks Robinson — included the participation of hundreds of sponsors, Mosher baseball volunteers and players, elected officials and community members who turned out to cut the ribbon and christen the field.

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Murray and Ripken took photos with community members before and after a half-hour ceremony that laid out the project's history.

Steve Salem, president of the Ripken Foundation, said that after the city's unrest surrounding the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody in April 2015, the foundation decided to build five fields in West Baltimore.

“It's not a solution, but as you can see, it's a start," Salem said. "Our first field in West Baltimore … was Babe Ruth Field over on Caton Avenue. Welcome to Field No. 2."

The artificial turf field, built to youth baseball proportions, will be gifted to the city school system.

The foundation enlisted a host of corporate sponsors and partners, but BGE took on a prominent role as part of the company's 200th anniversary celebration last year.

"You couldn't ask for a better legacy than this — a place where young people can play, learn and grow in a positive environment," BGE CEO Calvin Butler said. "We want every young person who steps onto this field to dream big and realize there are countless opportunities out there for them, and that all of us have their backs."

But the stars of the day were Ripken and Murray, who bantered in the same way you could imagine them doing in the locker room a few decades ago. Ripken playfully told a story of how teammates had to hold Murray back from attacking his father before eventually coming to embrace him as a coach and teacher. Murray took a shot at Ripken's slow start to his major league career, and chastised him for characterizing Murray's response to being asked to have the park named for him as anything other than enthusiastic.

What was easy to tell, though, was that they were both proud of the field and what it stood for. The Ripken Foundation, started by Cal and his brother, Bill, in 2001, has built 74 fields across the country, including 12 in Maryland and nine in Baltimore, that reach over a million underserved children each year.

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Anywhere the Mosher coaches teach and lead the community's children the way they have for decades is a benefit to the entire area, Ripken said, but "when you have a space like this, it makes it that much more special."

Murray connected the Mosher experience with the ones he grew up with in Los Angeles, with sports providing an outlet for children to dream beyond their neighborhood.

"It's a wonderful thing to see it up,” Murray said. “Last time, we were just here for the groundbreaking. And to actually see the ballpark here, I think these kids are going to have fun here. ... I think they're going to play together and hopefully, just be kids — stop some of the worries and get out of the house."

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