In the statistics-crazed world of baseball, here's a new one to memorize: "Cal Ripken Jr. -- $6,000 per home run."
That's the key to a new fund-raising effort for Baltimore Reads Inc., a non-profit adult literacy agency providing services to about 8,000 clients in Baltimore City.
The program was unveiled at a Memorial Stadium press conference yesterday afternoon with the Oriole star and his wife, Kelly, whose joint gift to Baltimore Reads two years ago allowed the agency to open the Ripken Learning Center.
Baltimore Reads now is hoping to raise up to $120,000 for its literacy projects from people and companies willing to pledge money every time the power-hitting shortstop hits a home run.
That translates into $100 per pledge from 60 contributors, assuming Ripken hits at least 20 home runs this year, as projected, according to Heather Campbell, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Reads. (Ripken averages 25 home runs a year.)
But the agency also is accepting pledges of $10 and $50 per home run as it works toward a minimum goal of raising at least $60,000, according to Campbell.
Among those who already have pledged are Lawrence Lucchino, president of the Orioles ($100 per home run); Calvin Hill, the Orioles vice president of administrative personnel ($50 per home run); and Eamonn McGeady, president of Martin G. Imbach Inc. ($50 per home run).
Premiums include an Orioles cap and an autographed baseball for the $10 pledges, and an exclusive grandstand party with Ripken himself for those who pledge the full $100 per home run.
Black & Decker Corp., the Colgate-Palmolive Co., MCI Telecommunications Corp. and the McDonald's Corp. will pay all administrative expenses for the program, said Campbell. That means all of the pledge money will go directly to literacy projects around the city.