Ripken takes his shot with BayRunners

Oriole's love of basketball makes deal a perfect fit

October 14, 1999|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken describes his acquisition of a minority share of the BayRunners as part fun, part love of basketball and partly a way of giving back to the city.

Ripken talked about his involvement with the BayRunners and the new International Basketball League yesterday at the ESPN Zone.

Ripken has an undisclosed minority share, with the league still owning the majority. The BayRunners and the Las Vegas Silver Bandits are the two teams in the eight-team IBL that the league owns the majority share. Ripken would not say how much money he has invested in the deal, but his part ownership automatically gives him an ownership stake in the league.

"I'm very excited to be a part of basketball in Baltimore," Ripken said. "You know how I feel about basketball, how much I play basketball. I think secretly I wish I could have been a basketball player. So it is very exciting to me to be part of a group that can bring basketball here on a daily basis."

Ripken said he was drawn to the IBL because of the things the league stands for with community involvement and affordable ticket prices. He said he supports the BayRunners giving local talent a chance to play professional basketball. All of the seven players the BayRunners have under contract have some connection to the Baltimore-Washington area, including former Towson State and Dunbar star Kurk Lee.

"The most interesting philosophy about the league as it relates to Baltimore is that we are drawing from a lot of local talent," Ripken said.

BayRunners president Greg Smith approached Ripken's advisers a month ago and called the negotiations "as pleasant an experience as I've had."

IBL CEO Arthur Cipriani said Ripken is the type of owner the league wants, dedicated to community service.

"We all share in our love for the game of basketball," Cipriani said. "Cal has demonstrated dedication, class, family values and commitment to Baltimore, all the things we looked for in an owner."

Until he retires from baseball, Ripken said he will be involved more with the promotional aspects of the team. He may take a more active role in the business end when his career is over.

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