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Cal Ripken Jr. Helps Bridgeport Open New Baseball Fields

Davis Dunavin

On a field in Bridgeport's North End, Cal Ripken Jr. tossed out pitches. Dozens of kids lined up for their turn at bat. Nine-year-old T.J. Serrano walked up and took a swing.

He got a nice hit off the Hall-of-Famer.

"Yeah, I'll always remember this," he said.

T.J.'s little league team, the Mets, play on this field. He said it looks a lot nicer now. The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, named after Ripken's father, paid to put new synthetic turf, the same kind used by some Major League stadiums. They built new dugouts and scoreboards. But Ripken said a nicer field isn't as important as helping kids in Bridgeport connect with coaches and other role models.

"You know, I think the byproduct of doing things like this, and building these fields, is that you're promoting the game of baseball," he said. "But we're really trying to help kids. So in the end, it's less about the baseball and more about using baseball, pairing them with caring adults and mentors."

Ripken has dedicated 48 ballparks around the country, and six are in Bridgeport. That's more than anywhere else, even Baltimore, the city where he played 2,632 games in a row for the Orioles.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.