Cal Ripken, Sr. signed his first professional contract in 1957. Over the next 37 years, he served as player, coach and manager within the Baltimore Orioles' organization, including the 1988 season, when he was skipper of the big club and managed his sons Cal, Jr. and Bill.
A catcher by trade, injuries eventually forced him out of the lineup and into managing. In 14 years of managing in the minor leagues, he had only two losing seasons. But Cal, Sr.'s legacy was about much more than wins and losses. The consummate hands-on company man, he built clubhouses, dragged infields, drove the team bus, ran the spring training camps, and spent thousands upon thousands of hours working on the fundamentals of baseball (and of life) with his many players, several of whom went on to Hall of Fame careers. Every step of the way, Cal Ripken, Sr. displayed the hard work, loyalty, dedication to team play, positive spirit, and integrity that became his hallmarks. He was responsible for developing a method of teaching that molded the Orioles' minor league system and became known as "The Ripken Way." The system stresses simplicity, fundamentals, "perfect practice," explanation instead of just instruction, an emphasis on fun, and the acknowledgement that different styles work for different players.
Cal, Sr.'s passion for teaching the craft of baseball ran deep and was passed on to his children. The Ripken family is preserving his legacy by teaching critical life lessons through baseball and softball themed programs to at-risk youth across America.
One of the tools the Foundation uses to inspire youth is the aura and awe of the big leagues. Youth are encouraged to dream as big as they can imagine, to set goals and to reach for them. With this in mind, the Foundation created Cal Sr.'s Yard - a youth sized replica of Oriole Park at Camden Yards complete with stadium seating, a tournament quality playing field, a press box, lighting, in-ground dugouts, bullpens, scoreboard, and other amenities. Located in the Ripkens' hometown of Aberdeen, Maryland, Cal Sr.'s Yard allows kids from across the country, regardless of status or situation, to experience life as a big leaguer.