WEST BALTIMORE -- When representatives from Major League Baseball and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation toured Frederick Douglass High School last September, they found varsity baseball coach Jim Foster hitting grounders to his players on asphalt. The concrete surface was far from ideal, but such is the reality for student-athletes
WEST BALTIMORE -- When representatives from Major League Baseball and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation toured Frederick Douglass High School last September, they found varsity baseball coach Jim Foster hitting grounders to his players on asphalt. The concrete surface was far from ideal, but such is the reality for student-athletes in West Baltimore, one of the more under-served communities in the country.
Flash forward a year, and those realities have changed drastically. Students reported to Frederick Douglass on Tuesday to a brand new, state-of-the-art baseball and softball field on the school’s grounds. Spearheaded by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and dedicated as Brooks Robinson Field at Group1001 Park, the $2.5 million complex was backed by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, the Orioles, and many local partners.
“To see this world-class facility come to Douglass High School demonstrates a belief in investment in our young people that is so important,” principal Craig Rivers said. “Here at Frederick Douglass, we say every day that we are in a fight to be consistent. It's no greater honor to have the Iron Man here today to exemplify consistency.”
Addressing the sizeable crowd on hand, Ripken Jr. called it the third in a five-field project planned for West Baltimore in light of the Freddie Gray protests in 2015. All told, it is the 88th youth park completed by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which strives to create clean, safe spaces for at-risk young people, and teach critical life lessons for those living in America’s most distressed communities. Thirteen of those fields are located within Baltimore City.
“The real value of the fields is the relationships that it brings, the lessons that will be then taught on it,” Ripken Jr. said. “It was a desire to help, then to focus our attention on where that help was most needed. Once we started talking about multiple locations in the city of Baltimore, this had to be one of them.”
Baltimore mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Orioles legends Robinson, Eddie Murray and Billy Ripken also attended the ceremony, where Robinson assumed ribbon-cutting honors. The Baltimore Metropolitan Council highlights West Baltimore as one of the most dangerous districts within Baltimore City, with more than 40 percent of families living in poverty.
“This isn’t rocket science to me,” Bill Ripken said. “You put a field like this in a community that needs it, and kids say “Wow.” And they spend more time on it than they do doing other things.”
From the trainers' room
• Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Mark Trumbo was available off the bench Tuesday, a day after Trumbo was scratched with trap tightness. Trumbo has hit .263 without a homer in eight games since completing his nearly year-long recovery from right knee surgery.
• Hyde also said X-rays on Renato Núñez's left hand were negative, characterizing the Orioles primary DH as day-to-day. Núñez was struck in the hand by a 95.2 mph Buck Farmer fastball on Sunday.
• Hyde said recently-claimed righty Eric Hanhold won’t be added to the Orioles’ active roster over the season’s final few weeks. The Orioles expect Hanhold, 25, to compete for a bullpen role next spring should he survive what figures to be some serious 40-man churn this winter. Originally a sixth-round pick of the Brewers in 2015, Hanhold spent the past two seasons in the Mets system.
• Tuesday brought another guest instructor into the fold, as the Orioles welcomed Double-A Bowie manager Buck Britton onto their big league staff in a temporary role. Britton replaces Triple-A manager Gary Kendall, whose 11-day stint as a guest instructor with the club concluded Monday.
Trick or treat
The Orioles are inviting families in Sarasota County, Florida, to Ed Smith Stadium, their Spring Training facility, on Oct. 12 for the fifth annual Howl-O-Ween Movie Night Spooktacular. Attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite Halloween costumes for a screening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. For event details, visit www.orioles.com/Sarasota.
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.