Cal Ripken Jr, one of professional baseball’s most iconic sluggers, will bring his premiere youth baseball tournament to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex starting in 2020. The big announcement was made at the Magic Kingdom where Ripken was joined by Mickey Mouse and ESPN WWOS vice president Faron Kelley. The Disney Blog was there to ask him a few questions.
We love to call ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex the unofficial fifth gate of Walt Disney World. With top notch youth sporting events including cheer, dance, soccer, football, basketball, and now baseball, the complex will bring a big-league experience to little league players with its tournament centered around Memorial Day weekend for players age 6-18.
“One of the core pillars of Ripken Baseball is to remember to have fun, so what better place to compete and maximize the family sports travel experience than right here at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort,” Ripken said. “We are thrilled to be working with such an iconic and internationally-respected brand as Walt Disney World to provide teams and their families with the most memorable experiences.”
Ripken Baseball will offer participants many opportunities for magic both on and off the baseball diamond. For instance, youth baseball participants will be treated to a dazzling opening ceremony and have free time in the Disney parks to experience new and popular attractions, such as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opens Aug. 29.
“At Disney Sports, we create the best possible experience for all of the athletes who walk through our gates,” said Faron Kelley, vice president of Disney Sports. “Working with baseball legend, Cal Ripken Jr., and his outstanding youth baseball academy, we will be taking the baseball experience at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to a whole new level of excellence.”
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex joins Ripken Baseball’s lineup of youth sports destinations, including the Ripken family’s hometown of Aberdeen, Maryland; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Across its facilities and national clinic tours, Ripken Baseball last year hosted more than 70,000 ball players from 42 states and eight countries.
If you’re not familiar with the name Cal “The Iron Man” Ripken, he set the Major League Baseball record for most consecutive games played (2,632). Ripken spent 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles where he was a 19-time All-Star shortstop. He was a two-time American League Most Valuable Player (1983, 1991) and elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
This is a good match for Walt Disney World and ESPN WWOS. I am sad that the facility is no longer used for spring training by one of the MLB teams, but it still does have that big league touch Ripken talked about. I’m sure the kids and their families will enjoy their time.