Ripken amateur league gets some big-league exposure

Fox will carry finals of Babe Ruth division

April 25, 2000|By Jon Morgan

A youth baseball league named for Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken has reached a tentative agreement with the Fox network's cable unit to broadcast its August championship game.

The Cal Ripken Division of the Babe Ruth League will hold a round-robin championship series this summer, culminating in a "World Series" game Aug. 27 in Matoon, Ill., between the top team from the United States and the top foreign team. The game, featuring players ages 11 and 12, will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net.

Playing in the preliminary rounds will be teams from Italy, Holland, Canada, Australia and Japan, said Ron Tellefsen, president of the Babe Ruth League.

Plans call for the championship game to be played next year in Aberdeen, Ripken's hometown and the base of his chain of baseball academies. A minor-league ballpark is slated to be built there, financed with state and local funds and a donation from Ripken. The Babe Ruth League, too, plans to move its headquarters there from Trenton, N.J.

This year will be the first time that a Babe Ruth League championship has been telecast nationally since 1981, when ESPN carried the game. The World Series of Little League, a competing organization, has been broadcast for years on ABC.

Tellefsen said Fox will pay no rights fee for carrying the game, and expenses probably will be shared between the league and broadcaster, possibly with a corporate sponsorship. Final details are still being worked out, he said.

Ira Rainess, business manager for Ripken, said the arrangement should raise the profile of the league, benefiting the players, the Aberdeen complex, and Ripken's for-profit chain of baseball camps and schools.

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