President Mary-Beth Cooper with, from left, Springfield College Trustee Kurt Ascherman ‘71; Mark Butler, chairman of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation Board of Directors; Cal Ripken Jr., former professional baseball player and vice chair of the foundation board; and Steve Salem, foundation president.
Baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation will partner with Springfield College to jointly design and build a one-of-a-kind intercollegiate and adaptive baseball park on the Springfield College campus in Springfield, Mass. Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper, Ripken, and foundation board chair Mark Butler signed the partnership agreement during the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation board meeting at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in December.
“We at Springfield College feel privileged to work with Cal Ripken Jr. and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to build a field that will serve our intercollegiate baseball team, as well as the greater Springfield community, including those with disabilities,” said Cooper.
“When we were looking for quality, national strategic partners for this important initiative, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation immediately rose to the top of our list. This partnership is an organic one for Springfield College because of the similar values and mission,” said Cooper.
“At Springfield College,” Cooper said, “our coaches hold faculty rank. As teacher-coaches, they spend time inside of the classroom with our students, as well as on our athletic fields, which are labs where those teacher-coaches take the opportunity to teach leadership, discipline, character, and other critical life lessons. This educational approach is very similar to the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation’s philosophy regarding youth development parks,” she said.
The project fits with both the mission of Springfield College to educate students in spirit, mind, and body to serve others, and the mission of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to build character and teach critical life lessons to at-risk young people through sports-themed programs.
“As a foundation, we are always striving to create opportunities for youth to excel not just on the playing field, but in the game of life. We are proud to work together with Springfield College to develop a multifunctional field that will not only benefit its student-athletes, but provide a safe place for local community members of all abilities to play, learn, and grow,” added Butler.
The first of its kind, this project will incorporate a new adaptive field within a new traditional field when the existing Springfield College team baseball diamond is replaced. Referred to as “The Springfield Model” by the foundation, the new facilities will include an artificial turf field, bullpens, and batting cages; installation of a new grandstand and press box; and a new scoreboard, sound system, and sports lighting system that will serve both the adaptive and the Springfield College team fields. Renovations will also include broadcasting capabilities and landscaping.
“In addition to providing a first-class facility for our student-athletes, the multipurpose, synthetic-turf field and facility will be a lab for our students and faculty in rehabilitation studies. It will also be a venue at which our sport management students can earn valuable experience and leadership skills running community events and tournaments,” said Springfield College Director of Athletics Craig F. Poisson.
“It’s exciting to have a project that will benefit diverse populations while promoting America’s favorite pastime,” Poisson said.
“It’s exciting that we are partnering with Special Olympics in their celebration of 50 years in 2018,” said Cooper. “We also are looking at events that we may be able to hold on the field in connection with the Law Enforcement Torch Run supporting Special Olympics and law enforcement personnel,” said Cooper, highlighting the critical connection between youth and the police, an initiative important to the Ripken Foundation.
“We are proud to work together with Springfield College to develop a multifunctional field that will not only benefit its student-athletes, but provide a safe place for local community members of all abilities to play, learn, and grow.”
—Mark Butler, Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation board chair
Youth athletes from the Miracle League, Special Olympics, and local baseball programs are expected to benefit from the renovation of the College’s Berry-Allen Field, which was opened in 1939 and has only seen regular maintenance in the intervening years. The field is named for two long-time Springfield College baseball coaches. Elmer Berry was a prominent physical education teacher at Springfield College who served as head coach from 1915-26, and Archie Allen was head coach for 31 seasons from 1948-78 and coached the U.S. Pan American Games team to a silver medal in 1963.
The College has already received financial commitments to help support the project. However, it will seek additional assistance from friends of the College and alumni. Ground breaking is scheduled for April 24, 2017, with completion of phase one anticipated for Sept. 1, 2017. Phase two, which includes the perimeter, bleachers, event management box, and lights will follow.2
Information is available from Joe Long, Office of Development, at (800) 622-6072.