PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Washington Park Cal Ripken team are New England champions, and now they’re making the pitch for help getting to their league’s World Series.
“It’s something that we don’t plan for,” admitted coach Francisco Ramirez. “It’s the first time ever that a 12-year-old Cal Ripken-Babe Ruth team has won the regionals, and we’ll be representing not only Providence in our standpoint, but Rhode Island and New England.”
To be precise, the Cal Ripken league and its associated Babe Ruth league are different business operations from the more widely known Little League operations, and the leagues operate under different rules, with different spacing for bases and so forth.
Reaching the Cal Ripken World Series is an accomplishment Coach Ramirez says would be great for any team, but it’s especially significant for his boys. Jahaira Rodriguez, whose son plays on the team, put it this way: “The fact that they come from poor neighborhoods and low-income families, and they strive to continue to be the best, and — you know, bring positive things to their lives and the community.”
The Cal Ripken league is only able to cover a portion of travel expenses for its ten World Series teams. Therefore, the 12-year-olds are pounding the pavement and fundraising.
“I like it, overall,” said Anthony Fernandez, “to say that I’m working for my team, to make it… Not just the parents, because the parents have already a lot on themselves.”
One of the team’s fundraising avenues is on GoFundMe. Their original goal was to raise $12,000; as of Wednesday, five days since they launched the online campaign, they’d raised $15,100 with donations from 325 people. Twelve players have to go, and the cash being collected will go to help lower the cost to the teammates’ parents.
The Cal Ripken World Series is August 4-14 in Ocala, Florida.