What We Learned From Cal Ripken Jr. When Visiting the Ripken Experience
By Melissa Wickes
April 6, 2022
Ripken Baseball is a national baseball experience with the goal of giving young ball players an experience similar to what Cal Ripken, Jr. experienced himself in the major leagues. Through Ripken Baseball’s programs—offered at locations in Myrtle Beach, SC and Pigeon Forge, TN as well as Aberdeen, MD— kids learn the craft of baseball through tournaments and week-long baseball experiences in a way that shapes them as a whole person, not just a player.
The Ripken Experience Aberdeen
At the Ripken Experience Aberdeen, kids have the unique opportunity to play on youth-sized replicas of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, and Memorial Stadium, as well as a full-sized replica of Yankee Stadium. Players are learning and developing their baseball skills on fields just like the ones they see their heroes play on—not something you see in just any baseball program—and are made into strong, thoughtful, and sportsmanlike players using the same philosophy Cal Ripken, Sr. lead the Baltimore Orioles to victory with for over 35 years (“The Ripken Way.”) Not to mention, Aberdeen, Maryland is Cal Jr. and Bill Ripken’s hometown.
The two new fields that just opened this week at the Ripken Experience Aberdeen are replicas of the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates’ home stadiums, allowing them to host more teams from around the country.
During our visit, we not only got to tour the Ripken Experience where Ripken Baseball creates unforgettable sports experiences for thousands of kids, but we also got to sit down with the legend himself, Cal Ripken Jr., to talk about the game.
View this post on Instagram
What is “The Ripken Way”?
At LeagueApps, we believe sports should be about much more than winning and losing—it should be about what kids learn along the way. This mindset aligns perfectly with the mission that drives Ripken Baseball—The Ripken Way. This value system is how Ripken teaches kids to compete the right way, be sportsmanlike, and be great players.
“It was born out of the Oriole Way,” said Cal. “The Orioles were considered one of the greatest organizations developing talent and sending them to the big leagues. They started to do things where they found out this works; this doesn’t. And then you shape the way you play baseball.”
The Ripken Way is about making a player as good as possible, no matter where they end up playing down the road. In doing that, kids learn to be fair, sportsmanlike, and hard-working players who don’t take shortcuts.
Coaching Lessons for Young Kids
Every player starts somewhere. For example, Brian Litvack—CEO of LeagueApps—is approaching his six-year-old son’s first-ever tee-ball practice, which he will be coaching. Brian looked to Cal for some advice on how to get kids this young engaged in practice. Here’s what Cal suggested.
- Remember that they’re kids. They have smaller attention spans, so practice needs to be interactive. Make it fun. You can still teach the game with all of those different variables intertwined.
- Get them to swing the bat. That may mean putting a soccer ball on the tee for a larger target or kickball. Making contact with the ball will give them a sense of accomplishment. When Cal’s son was eight years old, he recalls replacing the tee balls with water balloons as a surprise to get kids more excited about practicing on a hot day.
- Get creative. Practice can be monotonous, especially in baseball. Cal reminds Brian to use his creativity while maintaining use of the fundamentals.
How Cal Ripken Jr. Inspires LeagueApps
It wouldn’t be a complete visit to one of our partners if we didn’t chat about the LeagueApps values and how we align with them. Brian explained the LeagueApps values—SPORTSDOG—and how we hold ourselves to each of these values every day at LeagueApps. We “award” one another with them every week during our All Hands meetings.
As some of you may know, Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played—2,632—otherwise known as “the Iron Man” streak. The determination it took for Ripken to accomplish such a feat can only be described by one word—grit, which is one of the values we deeply believe in at LeagueApps.
To thank Cal for serving as an inspiration to our team through his accomplishments and hard work throughout his career, we awarded him a SPORTSDOG award for grit.
“I was called stubborn most of my life, and maybe even selfish… But if you want to try to find out about yourself, you have to go out and try. You gotta go do it.” said Cal. “Grit, to me, is convincing yourself you can do it.”
Get on the Level of the Ripken Experience
The amazing sports memories offered by the Ripken Experience are powered by LeagueApps technology. If you’re interested in learning more about how LeagueApps can upgrade your youth baseball programs, schedule a call with us today!